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Subject: GIPF Beginner Strategy: The Center rss

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Brandon Richards
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GIPF Beginner Strategy: The Center

Although I am not an expert on the intricacies of GIPF, I have found some strategies which can increase the performance of the GIPF novice. In this article I am going to focus on just one of the strategies needed to enhance the play-level of beginners. I am far from being an expert, and I hope that this article generates debate over the strategies I employ. By using these strategies I have found that I can win consistently against the computer program GF1 on levels one and two, approximately 80% of the games played on level 3, and about 20% of the games played on level 4. Most of the person-to-person games I play are against beginning players who are just learning, so beware that these strategies will mostly affect game-play against GF1, and not games played person-to-person. Although I have found that these strategies are a good basis for all game-play.

This article is only focusing on one strategy: Control of the center. Controlling the center of the game board is a wise strategy for the beginning-, middle- and end-game. There are 37 spots (intersections) in the play area. In order to know who has the most control on the board at any given time, I have assigned point values to each of the spots on the board. The center spot, or primary spot, is worth 4 points for basic pieces. The ring of spots surrounding the center spot are each worth 3 points. The next ring of spots is worth 2 points. These two rings are composed of secondary spots. The final ring or outer ring is worth 1 point each and is composed of tertiary spots.

The piece on the center spot has the highest numerical value because it has the highest ability to “attack” your opponent. For instance, a piece on the outer ring only has the power to “attack” the center spot if lying on a corner spot, or two secondary spots if it is lying between the corner spots. Or rather a row starting from a tertiary spot comprised of four pieces will only “attack” those areas on the board I have just outlined. Whereas a piece lying on the center spot has the ability to “attack” 18 different spots and in essence can “attack” any piece on the major dissecting lines. This is almost a 10-fold increase in power.

The GIPF-piece is counted differently than the regular piece. When a GIPF-piece successfully creates a line of four pieces, it has the option to stay on the board and retain its position. Obviously a GIPF-piece retaining its position on a tertiary spot is not very effective. However, when a GIPF-piece inhabits the center spot, it always has the vital position until it is voluntarily removed, taken, or pushed. Because of its ability to stay on the board, a GIPF-piece adds one point to each spot it occupies, making these spots worth 5, 4, 3, and 2 points respectively. It also stands to reason that a powerful GIPF-piece resides in the center spot, a mediocre GIPF-piece resides in a secondary spot, and a weak GIPF-piece resides in a tertiary spot.

An effective player will always try to occupy the center spot with a GIPF-piece. Not only will he have a GIPF-piece in the center spot, an effective player will always prevent his opponent from pushing his GIPF-piece out of the center spot. Except under extreme conditions, he will always try to keep his GIPF-piece in the center spot.

At any given time in the game, a person may tally up the points of all the pieces on the game-board to understand who has more control of the game. Whichever player controls the majority of the spots in the center of the board usually has control of the board, and ultimately control of the outcome of the game.

It is my experience that a typical game of GIPF has both players using three GIPF-pieces, so practice using three GIPF-pieces. Do feel free to vary this number. I will try to write a strategy guide for the number of GIPF-pieces to use, and when to remove a GIPF-piece at a later time. For a player to improve his game, I suggest that the player download GF1 and practice controlling the middle 7 spots of the board. Play on level 1 and only focus on getting your GIPF-pieces to the middle 7 spots and defending against the computer’s attacks. Play 100 games using ony this strategy (games are fast, especially against GF1) until contol of the center becomes second nature. You will start to recognize typical situations and the foundation of an effective beginning-game will start to emerge.

At first you may feel sloppy or unsure if yourself, but over time you will come to see how powerful the center really is. You will find that many captures present themselves without a need to set-up or actively “attack” your opponent. Becoming familiar and using only this strategy, you should be able to beat the computer on level 1 and eventually on level 2 every single time. Remember, this is only a beginner strategy, and a more advance player will not allow an “attack” to present itself.
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Douglas Buel
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Nice! I enjoyed reading it.
 
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Stephen Tavener
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It's good to see someone is thinking about strategy; of all the GIPF project games, granddaddy GIPF is the one least understood. Personally, I like to play as many GIPF pieces as possible; if my opponent doesn't manage to split them up, I'll often win without ever putting a normal piece on the board I think the power of a line of 4 GIPF pieces in the middle of the board is large enough that everyone should play with at least 4.
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Harald Korneliussen
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Playing all Gipf pieces is a powerful anti-computer strategy in Gipf. The computer has to consider (before pruning) a huge number of removal combinations. I also suspect that it messes up GF1's static evaluation function... but of course, this isn't fair, and not very fun in the long run.
 
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Paul Springer
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Holy cow, I'm really bad at this game. Is there any way we can get some other strategy articles up on the Geek? There are some bits and pieces in other places, but they're really broad ("Don't let your opponent capture your pieces!").
 
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Corin A. Friesen
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mrraow wrote:
if my opponent doesn't manage to split them up, I'll often win without ever putting a normal piece on the board I think the power of a line of 4 GIPF pieces in the middle of the board is large enough that everyone should play with at least 4.

It feels really bad when it happens to you! 4 is standard, more is fun.

UvulaBob wrote:
Holy cow, I'm really bad at this game. Is there any way we can get some other strategy articles up on the Geek? There are some bits and pieces in other places, but they're really broad ("Don't let your opponent capture your pieces!").

I hope to do one soon, though I am not equivalent to a grandmaster.
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