Limitation to strategy principals.

Discussion about the strategy and tactics used in the game of checkers. A forum dedicated to the aspects of checkers that are not specifically problem solving.

Limitation to strategy principals.

Postby Alex_Moiseyev on Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:59 pm

Several people already asked here and continue occasionly repeat the same question again: "is there any good book about draughts strategy principals ?" I also got the same question many times. My answer usually was - there is no one classic book and I recommended them several books from Oldbury and Pask.

I always asked myself - with so many authors, why noone wrote this book like we have it for openings ???

Today I find out probably the best answer. In "Basic Checkers", Part 3, Page 69, Richard Fortman wrote:

"... it must be remembered that principles can only be approximations of the truth, and work only when applied in a common sense manner ... "

It is impossible to say it better. Positional principals which work as golden rules, somehow limited in Anglo-American Draughts and this is probably the main difference between 10x10, Russian-Brazilian Draughts versus Anglo-American Checkers.

In 10x10 and Russian/Brazilian Checkers common sense and basic strategy principals usually apply in most cases and work fine. Not here ! In our form of game the price of concrete move is at highest degree and and the percentage of exceptions of any rule is probably 50% or more.

Often playing on Internet fast games less than 5 minutes, i lost many games by making bad moves. First time I was worry about this but later realized that without having enough time for observation, calculation and thinking, it is impossible to find scientifically a right move.

Instinct is a good thing but it's merits are limited somehow. It would be also a true to say that instinct is based on experience and knowledges !


I am playing checkers, not chess.
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Re: Limitation to strategy principals.

Postby Ingo_Zachos on Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:41 am

I do believe that especially in long endings, a mutliple-stage planning process and deep strategic play are essential, as well as proper judgement about the position.
More essential then for instance in chess.

And I would say that Alex Moiseyev is especially strong in that kind of positions where long planning helps to find a "short cut" for indefinate or at least very long calculations.

And that the process of planning is still much "underdeveloped" in draughts theory.
For instance, 1st position and 2nd position are more a strategic approach (a plan) then a tactial device (a trick).

In theory, of course, there is no seperation between best strategic play ("planning") and best tactical play ("calculating")
As draughts is a well-structured ("solvebale") game, in the end the perfect tactician who can calculate the most complicated postion until the end (indefinate calculation horizon), is also the best strategist.
That is why computers are strong.
it is not the deep planning or good judgement, it is their calculation horizon.

And I agree that the lower mobility of the pieces in our game make it easier to calculate it.
Thus it is logical to say that tactics are, compared to other games, more important.

I agree on that one.
But there is still much to be done to explain the process of planning and to develope positional judgement.
Given that two players have the same calculation abilities, the one with the better planning and judgement still prevails.

And sometimes a plan, based on positional judegment, helps you to look deeper into the psotion, so that you can beat a better calculator with a good plan.

Here is an example from the 2009 German Open.
Igor Martynov is a far better calculator then I am in my opinion, but I managed to beat him by taking up a plan beginning with 12. ... 30-25.
I did not calculate each line and still managed to "see" further ahead then Igor without calculating each move ("visualizing"), just by picking up a plan, that allowed me to find the right "formation" that would, in my jugement, have been a win for me.
Though I might have been wrong with that judgement, one can see that my strategical planning allowed me to find a "short cut" to reduce my calculation efforts.

(IM) Martynov,I -(CM) Zachos,I
DM 2009 (1), 14.8.2009

1.10-15 A surprise to me. Kelso is a rare guest in GAYP. 21-17 2.09-13 This was a pleasant choice to me.
[ Favored in the old 2-move era and certainly best is 2.11-16 ]
2...17-14 3.11-16 The inclusion of 9-13 and 17-14 certainly favors White, so I was already feeling quite well here. 24-19 4.15x24 28x19 5.06-09 22-18 6.16-20 25-21 7.08-11 29-25 8.11-16
[ Here the surprising shot 8.12-16?! 19x12 9.03-08 12x03 10.02-06 03x10 11.06x29 does not yield relief, as after 14-10-+ White has a strategical win. Note how strong the Pyramid looks. ]
8...25-22 9.04-08 32-28 Looks strange at first, but after calculating a few lines, I thought that 32-28 was necessary anyway.
[ And indeed 9...19-15 10.16-19 23x16 11.12x19 32-28 more or less transposes to the text. ]
10.01-06?! Looks natural, but might be a fatal mistake.
[ The ugly 10.02-06 is a strong defense and might survive by one hair: 22-17 11.13x22 26x17 12.07-11 ( Not 12.09-13 14-09! and White wins. ) 12...19-15 13.09-13 14-09 14.13x22 09x02 15.22-26 31x22 16.01-06 02x09 17.05x14 18x09 18.11x25 21-17 19.08-11! ( But not 19.25-29 28-24 20.16-19 24x15 21.12-16 17-14 should win for White. ) 19...30x21 20.11-15 17-14 21.15-19 and Black has escaped. ]
10...19-15 11.16-19 23x16 12.12x19

30-25!? This surprised Igor as he later confessed.It is not based on long calculation, but the positional idea, that once I win the square 23 I can win on the opponents double corner side, if I can get into the formation with pieces on 21,17, and a man on 23 that can't be excanged. So I was looking for a line to match that idea and the next moves are all made to carry that plan through. But maybe the plan does not win, as Black has surprisingly rich tactical rescources after I won the piece, which to my disappointment, I have not seen in advance...
[ But maybe there is an even stronger line available: 12...27-23! 13.20-24 ( 13.08-12 23x16 14.12x19 31-27 15.03-08 27-23 16.08-12 23x16 17.12x19 26-23 18.19x26 30x23 and Black has no move left. ) 13...23x16 14.24-27 31x24 15.13-17 22x13 16.07-10 14x07 17.02x27 21-17 and Black is lost.I did not look for that line in the game, as I was confident that my idea would win. But this might be a wrong judgement. ]
13.08-12 21-17 14.03-08 25-21 All according to my plan. 15.07-11 27-23 Now it is time to fight for square 23, as outlined above. 16.02-07 23x16 17.12x19 31-27 18.11-16 27-23 19.06-10?! This is the definate mistake that ends the game.
[ He could throw the piece in another way: 19.08-11 15x08 20.07-11! (the idea is to destroy the white pawn structure at all costs!) 14-10! 21.06x15 08-03 22.20-24 03-07 23.24-27 07-10 24.27-31 28-24 25.19x28 10x12 I had "seen" as deep as to this position when I played my 12th move and though that it would be a win, but I might have been terribly over-optimistic: 26.31-27! 23-19 27.11-15! ( 27.27-23 12-08 28.23x16 08x15 29.28-32 17-14 30.16-20 15-11 31.32-27 26-23 might still win for White, but is very complicated. ) 27...18x11 28.27-23 11-08 29.23x30 08-04 30.28-32 ( Not 30.30-25? 17-14 31.25x18 19-15 32.18x11 12-08 33.09x18 08x22 and White wins. ) 30...19-16 31.30-25 17-14 32.25x18 14-10 33.09-14 16-11 and altough White is still better and he might have improvements, Black has drawing chances. ]
19...15x06 20.07-11 14-10 21.20-24 10-07 And Black, still in time-trouble, a pawn down and in a bad position finally overstepped the time. 0-2

Here I magaed to win, because I found a plan that allowed me to "see" far ahead, even though I could not visualize that far.
Strategical play works and should be taught and mastered.

Greetinx from rainy Dortmund, Germany

Ingo Zachos
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