I have created a board game based on the epic 'Three Kingdoms' by Luo Guanzhong. I can't call it 'Three Kingdoms' because there are too many games called that. I want to call it Sān Qí 三棋 because it sounds good to English speakers. I have only studied very basic Mandarin. Would Sān Qí 三棋 sound wrong to a Chinese person? Maybe it is a slang or swear word. Maybe it already means something else. Maybe it doesn't make sense. Is it ok to call my game Sān Qí 三棋? If not is 三龙棋 Sān Lóng Qí better? (I have searched for 三棋 and it looks like the only match is for 成三棋 which is the game 'nine mens morris' in English. This seems to show 三棋 is ok, because the combination 三棋 exists, but is still a unique name because I'm not using 成, but I can't be sure.)
Without knowing anything about your newly minted board game, a new comer, especially a Chinese or someone having some knowledge of Chinese, would first of all subconsciously form in his mind what your "☰" means or represents. 棋 by itself of course doesn't say much as every board game is a 棋
It could therefore represent the following:-
--- something to do with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, 三國演義, which already exist in "三國志, Sangokushi, lit. "Records of the Three Kingdoms"), a series of turn-based tactical role-playing simulation grand strategy war games. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_of_the_Three_Kingdoms_(video_game_series)
--- or something to do with 乾 "Qián" represented by the three unbroken lines "☰" of the 8 Bagua Trigrams, meaning the Heaven/Firmament 天 "Tiān"
--- or something to do with the Christian Trinity, 三位一体, which may lead to an even greater misunderstanding.
--- or it may be misunderstood to mean a game about "Romantic Triangular Relationships" -- 三角恋
The point being that the #3 has lots of connotations already, carrying diverse baggages.
I am not being negative, but seeing it as I see it.
三棋 itself, though not taken yet, appears too short a name, bearing in mind the "Syllable Theory" that the number of syllables in a word or phrase is critical to its communicative function, like "123", "ABC", "IBM", "CCTV", "CIA", "FBI"
I suppose that's why @Tang Ho says it sounds lazy and undescriptive.
What to put between 三 & 棋?
It is your decision of course. But how about 三義棋 or 三义棋, (simplified), which immediately conjures up the Romance of the Three Kingdoms epic.
I think the simplified form, 三义棋, has better visual appeal.
Finally 三义棋 in alphabet form = SanYiqi = is visually uncomplicated, and easy to remember.
It is fine to call it "SAN QI" in English, as long as it sounds good
but The Chinese name 三棋 sounds lazy and undescriptive
I don't see anything wrong with 三国棋. If you think 三国 is too common, you can add something to make it more unique, for example, 三国纵横(棋)、三国争霸(棋)、 三国攻略(棋) or 三国战棋
Chinese and English names of a game do not have to be a direct translation of each other Chinese name for "GO" is 圍棋
很好! I will use 三义棋 as the proper long name, and 三棋 for English speakers (and lazy modern Chinese speakers ;) English speakers are happy saying San Qi and remember it easily. Everyone here seems to think 三义棋 works. The game is more about clever strategy like Kong Ming and Cao Cao, but duelling heroes is part of the game, and it is very much about winning loyalty - so the connotations of the peach garden brotherhood are good. Also, I see that 义气 ('loyalty') in pinyin is 'yìqì' so although it is a different tone, 三义棋 Sān yì qí (Three Righteous Chess), sounds a bit like 三义气 Sān yì qì (Three Loyal) - so it works as a phonetic pun (I guess?) - as well has referencing the 义 character in 三国演义. I wish I understood mandarin a 1000 times better - I love how all those layers of meaning work with just a few characters and syllables. (If anyone is interested 三棋 will appear in kickstarter soon and instructions will be on a website next year. It's played on a 围棋 board with simple pieces but endless strategic possibilities and is designed to capture the spirit of 三国演义.) 谢谢!