what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Discussion and analysis about openings.

what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby AlanD on Sat Feb 03, 2007 4:39 pm

I've been looking at many sites and book to see the point of the flora temple opening. It seems to me that the move 9-13 was meant to place a piece on the side of the opponent's single corner so you can run it for king later. But if I play 9-13 and 16-20, I'm leaving center for the other person to control. So how can the flora temple opening be so famous? I'm somewhat new to checkers, so can someone please explain to me in depth about the flora temple?
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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby Patrick Parker on Sat Feb 03, 2007 6:58 pm

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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby AlanD on Sat Feb 03, 2007 7:56 pm

The 16-20 is done a few turns after the 12-16. And you're right, if white should play 24-20? after red's 9-13, he'll lose. Im wondering why red play 16-20 after white plays something else other than 24-20?
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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby Patrick Parker on Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:29 pm

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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby Ingo_Zachos on Sun Feb 04, 2007 7:46 am

AlanD wrote:...It seems to me that the move 9-13 was meant to place a piece on the side of the opponent's single corner so you can run it for king later. But if I play 9-13 and 16-20, I'm leaving center for the other person to control. ...



Dear Alan, you r right from a beginner's view, as both 12-16 and 9-13 seem to violate the simple rule "play in the centre", so 9-13 seems simply like an attempt to confuse the opponent and to set some traps "...to run for a king".

But:

1. The idea behind 1. 11-15 22-18, 2. 15x22 25x18, 3. 12-16 is to play for the central squares rather then in the centre. With 12-16-20 you can slightly cramp the opponent's double corner, and 9-13 and later 5-9 r moves that r part of a "wait and see" apporach for Black, in order to attack the White centre later.

There r at least two possible centre stategies in checkers: to play with the centre or to play against the centre, but don't be fooled: in the end both strategies aim for the central squares. Hence their importance.
To occupy them or not, that is the question, as the pieces there can move rapidly forward against weak defense and crush the unaware opponent (games like this appeal ideal to the beginner's eyes). But if the opponent is skilled, he/she blocks the centre and takes care of the threats to mobilize it by tactical means (like in the opening 1. 11-15 24-19 2. 15x24 28x19, 3. 9-14 22-18, 4. 5-9, the "Second Double Corner" after 4. ...25-22, 5.8-11, White is indeed not able to advance in the centre and he/she may easily run out of moves in the long run), ideally he/she blocks them and brings them in zugzwang or he/she uses levers ("pitches" they call them in checkers) against the centre like 11-16 (or 22-17 with white)and 9-14 (or 24-19 with white).
That is the idea behind the Flora Temple. 9-13 prevents 22-17 and tries to block the white centre, and later Black even begins to attack the centre that White formed.

2. The white idea behind the Single Corner Opening is simple: he/she trades towards the centre (like the Second Double Corner mentioned above!) in order to occupy it!
The logical and most ambitious idea against it seems to allow these "occupation", but to fight the pieces there and to prove that the advance towards the centre is time-consuming and premature.
That is why 3.12-16 and later 9-13 r so popular!
It is an attempt to refute the white strategy!
Some players, like IM Liam Stephens, even try to play 3. 9-13 rather then 3. 12-16, a line with similar ideas, but less published play on it (3. 9-13 may also transpose to a Kelso, but more about this in the forthcoming book about the German Open 2006...), as 3. 12-16 allows 18-14, which most books consider to be a safe draw or an "action killer", but I thing that the last word on that is definately not spoken. White may be okay, but it is easier to find new unpublished moves for Black then new moves for White in this line, an indicator that this line is easier to play in practice for Black then for White.

If you believe White's strategy is sound you may play 3. 8-11 etc., the classical appoach that tries to fight for the occupation of the centre. (BTW: 3. 10-15 ging into a Kelso also has this classic idea), but 3.12-16 and later 9-13 (Flora Temple) or 10-14 (Agnes Grey) r more modern attempts, in which the occupation of the centre is not the only strategy to fight for the central squares.
It is a matter of taste, skill, tournament situation and preparation, which line you may choose, but master practice has shown all strategies above to be playable.

Another thing is that in practical play you may play each move that is not refuted yet, as a refutation is the only real reason to abandon any move. Remember: in the end it is all tactics, and strategy is just a map to help you find the best route (move)!

I hope that this little trip back to the history of ideas in checkers has answered your question at least partly, and was good enough to hold some thruth in the eye of a critical master.

Greetinx from Dortmund, Germany

Ingo Zachos
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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby AlanD on Mon Feb 05, 2007 8:38 pm

Thank you Ingo for the detailed response. When I first started checkers, my only tatic of winning was to place pieces in the center to have superior space control. And perhaps this is still the away I play today. But every now and then, I come across players who abadons the center and build their formation from the side...Some of these players somehow manage to block all of my pieces movement. So I try copy their style of playing(placing some pieces at the side), and I did worse with that style. My pieces on the side usually get cramp and blocked. I really dont know what I'm doing wrong... Maybe it's because I'm not trading pieces at a critical time or something. And about trading, I used to keep trading pieces in the very beginning to get superior space. But then I learned the idea of overdevelopment and time from Oldbury's book, so I stop trading much. His book is the kind of book I'd like to find more of because it teaches basic concept of checkers. Most books I find doesnt teach any important basic concept, at least in a beginner's eye. But instead, they show me a bunch of openings, grandmaster's game(which I have no idea what's going on), problems to solve, and things that beginners dont get. Does anyone know where I can get books like Oldbury's "Move Over" or something that teaches basic to advance concepts?
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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby Alex_Moiseyev on Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:36 pm

One of the best strategy book I ever study, which helped me to learn how to play right - "The Tinsley Way". You can find here everything you need.

Respectfully,

Alex Moiseyev
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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby Patrick Parker on Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:43 pm

..........
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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby Ingo_Zachos on Tue Feb 06, 2007 6:33 am

AlanD wrote:...
Most books I find doesnt teach any important basic concept, at least in a beginner's eye. But instead, they show me a bunch of openings, grandmaster's game(which I have no idea what's going on), problems to solve, and things that beginners dont get. Does anyone know where I can get books like Oldbury's "Move Over" or something that teaches basic to advance concepts?



Dear Alan,

unfortunatly this is not the case.
There is no other book devoted solely on strategy like Oldbury's that I know.
But to me the games Williew Ryan commentent in his "American Checkerist" Magazine were very insping and he tells a lot about general priciples.
If you can get them, buy them, they r worth their money.
Also some good match books exist, like "International Draughts and Checkers" and "Checker Kings in Action". The comments to that games contain much advice about strategy, just like the comments to the games in "Let's Play Checkers" by Grover and Wiswell.
If you've got more much time try to get and read "The Complete Encylopedia" by Oldbury, it covers many strategical themes, and can be read as an Expansion of "Move Over".
Practical aspects ot strategy with numerous examples you can find in Pask's "Play better Checkers and Draughts", but he is more focused on give example games then to explain with words.
Also Alex' "'The Sixth" contains many positional thoughts in between the lines he gives, but you have to read all comments to find them.
In contrast most older tournament and match books do only contain lines or tactical remarks, they probably won't help you much, though sometimes they can be helpful in learning, especially in the old American Ty books with weak players eliminated in early rounds. You can see the differences between master play and expert play, but you have to find out yourself the hard way by analyzing it.

Trading is a very difficult issue, as a rule you should not seek trading, and not avoid trading at all costs, be flexible!
Sometimes trading prevents a serious cramp, sometimes it wins time(as Oldbury showed), sometimes it is just done in order to simplyfy to a won or nearly-won ending or to change the "pawn" stucture.
I have never found any comments on a general theory of trading like in chess Nimzowitsch gave and other expanded, maybe Alex is working on it, or someone knows more abot this.

Greetinx from still sunny, but cold Dortmund, Germany

Ingo Zachos
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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby jimloy on Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:00 am

Let me use another opening to illustrate a point. In the Switcher (11-15 21-17 9-13), the defining 9-13 is strong, significantly stronger than any alternative. In other openings, 9-13 is weak or strong or somewhere in between. So, the center, and moving toward the center is not the only principle in checkers. Often more important is mobility (or freedom, as Alex calls it), and 9-13 in the Switcher (and perhaps in the Flora Temple variation too) affects the opponent's mobility greatly. Also, in other openings, 9-13 may deny 13 from an opponent's 17-13, which may be a mild attack upon the double corner. And who knows, 9-13 may affect the center in subtle ways, because of its affect on mobility, and actually improve the center.

Checker players cannot always adequately expain to you why this or that move is strong or weak. Sorry to break that news to you. Be aware that the Flora Temple is relatively strong for Red. Perhaps the reasons why will become clearer over time. But there will always be mysteries.

Loy's Law: All dogmatic statements are false!
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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby Alex_Moiseyev on Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:41 am

jimloy wrote:All dogmatic statements are false!

Jim, I disagree with you!

Checkers is scientific game :lol: It has many dogms, laws and rules. If player doesn't know them, or don't interpretate and apply them correctly -it is a player problem, not checkers.

If some rule works successfully in 95% cases and 5% - exceptions, it is always a smart thing to do - use this rule with full strength and always consider it!

Also always try to explain yourself - why some move is good or bad.

Here is an example of dogmatic statement: red mans on 21 and 32 (white on 5 and 12) are extremely weak and you have to avoid these squares as much as you can, and try to force your opponent to get there.

Do we have exceptions of this rule ? Of course, though not too many! However for novice player it would be much better just remember this rule and follow it always in the game.

Another rule: keep trades in your position and continue to build a new ones during the game. The only exception of this rule maybe type of positions, where pieces are running out of moves.

Alex
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Re: what's the strength of the Flora temple opening?

Postby jimloy on Sat Apr 21, 2007 8:32 pm

All dogmatic statements are false!

Alex, you may not have noticed that that was a dogmatic statement.

Of course checker players (forgive me for including myself in that category) are guided by general principles, but we realize that they have many exceptions. And so we use judgment too. In trying to improve my play, I have tried to estimate which principles (or other things to think about while playing) are most important. Here is a short list, which people may disagree with:

1. Shots (and other tactical tricks), both my own and my opponent's. We all miss these, on occasion. I improve my own repertoire of tricks by reading published games.
2. We usually don't evaluate moves by their looks, but by how the positions will look in the future.
3. Mobility (what Alex calls freedom) of pieces (both my own and my opponent's).
4. The opportunity to king (both my own and my opponent's), which is a major consideration in many games.
5. The center (both my own and my opponent's).
6. The ending. I think that most of us need to study endings, perhaps just by reading published games.
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