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Less is more ... ish

Richard Moxham
United Kingdom
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I'm so pleased that the first Morelli World Championship is now up and running, and more grateful than I can say to Bibi Morelli, managing director of Morellis Gelato, for her generosity, imagination and not least her sheer sense of fun, in agreeing to sponsor it.

Having opened his campaign with a convincing victory, the great stepanzo (add a couple of leading capitals, and a glittering career as magician or trapeze artist is surely his for the taking) posted briefly on the BGG Abstracts forum. "The only tactic that works," he said, "is the less you move, the better." About the game against Galbolle (which was the context of his remark) I don't really want to say anything here, but a few reflections of a more general nature come to mind.

Three or four years ago, when Morelli was still pretty much a babe in arms and its elder sibling, The Summer-House Floor, already on the brink of adulthood, I coined the term whitewater games to evoke what I saw as their principal shared characteristic. The intended implication was that these were games in which any careful preparatory phase was dispensed with in favour of immediate and relentless attack and counter-attack - sound and fury from start to finish. I still love the term, but whilst it exactly describes TSHF, I have to confess that in applying it to Morelli I could scarcely have got the rainbow game more wrong. And it was stepanzo who brought me to that realisation.

At the time, Morelli was available on line only at Dave Dyer's BoardSpace, where stepanzo played it occasionally (I think Hive was his real interest), but still, right from the start, well enough to beat me almost all the time. In the course of over-the-board conversation he always shrugged off the suggestion that he had any system worthy of the name, claiming to be guided by no loftier principle than the avoidance of material deficit. I never more than half believed this, but there was no doubting the effectiveness of whatever really did underpin his approach.

Later that year, Richard Malaschitz implemented Morelli on Little Golem, and it was to my considerable surprise that stepanzo turned up there one day and started playing it. Rightly or wrongly, I'd formed the impression that the Checkpoint Charlie between real-time and turn-based doesn't see much traffic. Anyway, the hundreds of games he's played since then have made him an ever more redoubtable opponent. I do beat him sometimes nowadays, but only about a third as often as he beats me. And still he contrives to imply that there's nothing very sophisticated about his approach. See? He was at it again last week.

Fact is, you don't win as regularly as stepanzo does - and against decent opposition, at that - without a good dollop of subtlety stirred into your common sense. Sure, The less you move, the better (meaning: all other things being equal, choose short moves over long ones – above all in the opening, he might have added) is fair advice. And, as you’ll have noticed, it already represents an evolution from Don’t lose pieces if you can help it. But a great deal is still left unspoken, even – or do I mean especially? – as an account of the way the man himself plays. Watching him in action, I quickly understood that ‘whitewater’ tactics would only ever be successful against their like – certainly not against him – and that his approach was actually founded on not one but three interwoven principles: conservation of material, conservation of mobility, and conservation of coverage. I’ve no idea whether in saying this I’m codifying something which for him exists on a more intuitive level, but his application of it is certainly methodical enough to warrant being called a method for the sake of argument. And a method, what's more, towards which everyone else’s play is slowly but surely gravitating. By the end of this coming Sunday, the World Championship will be down to the semi-final stage, with (at the moment) a couple of known gritty customers still in there, and another couple of players who have been managing to win with fewer than twenty-five games' experience between them. It will be interesting to see whether anyone - possibly with the aid of a bit of time pressure - can unsettle the man on the flying trapeze.
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Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:01 pm
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World Championship

Richard Moxham
United Kingdom
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Morelli World Championship 2016

Board Game: Morelli


I’m pleased to announce that this event, the very first ‘Morelli Mundial’, will be taking place over the coming weeks at Dave Dyer’s realtime site BoardSpace. It’s a knockout tournament, with time-controlled matches, on the standard 13x13 board.

The Championship sponsors are our namesakes Morelli’s Gelato, global purveyors of luxury ice-cream (find out more about them at http://morellisgelato.com). Thanks to their generosity there are some fine prizes to be won.

Entries (which are free of charge and open to any human player) must be registered by 24h00 GMT on Thursday 31 March. The draw will be made and published on Friday 01 April. Full details as follows.


Regulations

[Note: the masculine singular personal pronoun is used throughout this document - in the words of Christian Freeling’s Mindsports site (http://mindsports.nl) - “to exclude awkward constructions rather than women”.]

1. The tournament
2. The prizes
3. Registration
4. The draw
5. Time control
6. Scheduling
7. Punctuality
8. Etiquette
9. Good faith
10. The tournament director



1. The tournament

1.1 The tournament is the official Morelli World Championship for 2016. The winner will be entitled to the designation World Champion until the following World Championship is completed.

1.2 Matches are contested on line and in real time.

1.3 The venue is the website http://boardspace.net.

1.4 The board format is 13x13 (aka ‘Standard’, or ‘Red’, Morelli), with automatic set-up.

1.5 The tournament format is strict knockout (defeat = elimination).

1.6 Each match consists of one game only.


2. The prizes

2.1 For the winner, GBP150.

2.2 For the runner-up, GBP50.

2.3 For each losing semi-finalist, a Morelli set (Nestorgames edition).

All prizes by courtesy of Morelli’s Gelato (www.morellisgelato.com).


3. Registration

3.1 To take part in the tournament you first need to be a registered player on the BoardSpace site. This is free of charge and very straightforward - just follow the Register link on the boardspace.net homepage.

3.2 Next, tournament registration will automatically require you to have played at least 5 full games on the site. These need not be games of Morelli, but since their purpose is familiarisation with procedure ahead of the tournament, it’s probably helpful if they are. Games on the 9x9 board, against Dumbot (the entry-level ‘house’ AI), are recommended if you’re short of time.

3.3 Having completed the previous two steps, register your entry on the Tournament Manager (Homepage > Site map > Tournaments), where you can also link to further useful information about in-site communications.


4. The draw

4.1 A single, once-and-for-all draw takes place at the start of the tournament.

4.2 That draw determines your first opponent.

4.3 Thereafter, your path through the tournament is traceable on the bracket diagram.

4.4 There is no seeding.

4.5 Players determine possession of the Black and White pieces for each match by the ‘coin-flip’ mechanism available in the lobby under Actions. One player types his call, and the other then operates the flip.


5. Time control

5.1 Each match is completed in a single uninterrupted session.

5.2 All matches are played to an absolute time control of 75 minutes per player, with no added time ‘per move’. Any break taken, in whole or in part, while a player’s own clock is running, therefore consumes some of his time allowance. The allowance is designed to take account of this, having been set on the assumption of 60 moves per player at an average move-time of one minute, plus 15 minutes per player ‘contingency’.

5.3 A player whose time allowance runs out without his having won is considered to be defeated and must acknowledge this by an immediate resignation.

5.4 If a player appears not to have noticed the expiry of his time allowance, his opponent should politely point the situation out to him. If the defeated player then fails to resign, his opponent should bring the game to an end by resigning himself at the first opportunity, and subsequently claim the victory from the tournament director on the evidence of the game record.

5.5 In the (highly unlikely) event of a match being drawn, the two opponents will play 'blitz' games at 7 minutes per player on the 11x11 board until one of these yields a decisive result. Any such tie-break must still be completed before the deadline for that round.


6. Scheduling

6.1 The successive rounds of the tournament have strict completion deadlines at 24:00 GMT on consecutive Sundays (i.e. midnight on the night Sunday/Monday), beginning with a deadline of Sunday 10 April 2016 for the completion of Round 1, then Sunday 17 April for Round 2, Sunday 24 April for Round 3, etc, as required.

6.2 It is entirely the responsibility of the players concerned to fix a playing date and time, and to complete their match before the set deadline. This may not always be easy with busy lives and widely differing time-zones, but please be as accommodating as possible to one another. (If you foresee major scheduling problems right from the start it may be better not to enter in the first place.)

6.3 Once two players know that they are to meet in the next round, there is no objection to their going ahead with that match by mutual consent even before the deadline for the current round has passed.

6.4 The preferred medium of communication for the scheduling of matches is by exchange of messages on the Match Page, accessible via Tournament Manager.

6.5 Having agreed upon a date and time for their match, both players must communicate this information (and any subsequent change in it) separately to the tournament director.

6.6 Similarly, once the match is concluded, the tournament director must be notified of the result by each player.


7. Punctuality

7.1 Players are requested to enter the game room at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start of their match, in order to conduct the preliminaries in leisurely fashion.

7.2 A player who enters the game room after, but not more than 15 minutes after, the scheduled start of a match, has his time allowance reduced from 75 to 60 minutes.

7.3 A player who enters the game room more than 15 minutes after the scheduled start forfeits the match to his opponent.

(7.4 But please note: the opponent of an offender against 7.2 or 7.3 has the discretionary power to waive his own rights under those regulations.)

7.5 If, 15 minutes after the scheduled start, neither player has entered the game room, both will usually be deemed by the tournament director to have defaulted. It is very much hoped, however, that this will never happen, since it seriously damages the tournament


8. Etiquette

8.1 Conversation between the players in the game room before and after the game is, of course, normal and sometimes essential. During the game, however, it is likely to be a distraction and could even influence the outcome. Players are therefore requested to abstain from using the chat facility for the duration of actual play, unless exceptional circumstances necessitate it.


9. Good faith

9.1 This Championship is intended to test the comparative skills of unaided human players. We take on trust that each entrant understands this, and that in registering for the tournament he is making a tacit declaration that he is a flesh and blood competitor who will bring to the challenge nothing but his own, unassisted abilities. Anyone considering an entry but unwilling to do so on those terms is respectfully asked to look on from the outside instead. Spectators are very welcome in all the game rooms, and (who knows?) there may be a parallel Morelli Computer Championship one of these days.


10. The tournament director

10.1 The tournament director’s functions are:

10.1.1 to oversee the registration process;
10.1.2 to conduct and publish an impartial draw for the tournament;
10.1.3 to monitor scheduling arrangements;
10.1.4 to receive incoming results and maintain and publish updated versions of the bracket diagram;
10.1.4 to answer any queries raised by participants;
10.1.5 to oversee the application of the regulations and to arbitrate in cases of dispute;
10.1.6 to announce the prizewinners at the end of the tournament.

10.2 The tournament director’s decision is final in all circumstances.
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Wed Mar 2, 2016 4:23 pm
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