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Subject: How I Lucked Out on Ladders and Made Use of Forks rss

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Tony Chen
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You can view the match at www.boardspace.net. Simply login with your account or as a guest, set a room to "Review Room" and the game to "Hex". Two windows will appear: one the hex board and another a game selector window.

In the selector window, click on archive 2007, then click on Jul-05-2007. Then, in the match words search for: LSG (press enter after typing the word). Two games will show up, click on the second one: ronaldinho-LSG-2007-06-12.


Game: hex on a 11x11 board. I played online at www.boardspace.net.

Notation: starting from the obtuse corner, the rows are named 1~11 and A~K. So A1 would be one obtuse corner, and K11 the opposite obtuse corner. White aiming to connect row A to row B. Black aiming to connect row 1 to row 11.

Game Log:
1. I1 E5
3. F7 C7
5. C3 D3
7. D6 I7
9. I8 G7
11. G8 H8
13. I10 H9
15. H10 G9
17. G10 F9
19. F10 E9
21. E10 C9
23. E4 J9
25. G3 F4
27. D4 E2
29. F5 H5
31. J8 H6
33. D9 C8
35. D8 D7
37. E8 E7
39. F8 E6
41. F6 B3
43. B2 resign

Discussion:
On my first move as white (contrary to the convention, white starts on this game site), I played in a shitty spot because of the pie rule. Black thought the placement was too shitty so he chose not to swap colors. Instead, he plays a stone four rows away from his bottom side.

In the next move, I make a weak block on that stone. He threatens to extend that connection, but leaving me the option to cut it at D6. I think this sequence left black weak in the lower left area of the board.

To secure my advantage in that area, instead of cutting his chain at D6, I played C3. This stone threatens to cut black's path in two ways. One, by using a weak connection to E4. Or two, by serving as a ladder escape for my white stone at F7.

He chose to deny my former option by extending his chain at D3. I keep my latter option open by playing at D6.

Seeing me successfully connect to my F7 stone to my bottom side, he tries to cut me off on the top by playing at I7. I felt that this was quite a strong move. The black I7 stone is only four rows away from his upper left side, and guaranteed a connection to his bottom right side with the aid of the black D3-E5 chain.

Not finding any clear solution, I went with my gut and tried to block his path to the upper left side. I blocked his I7 stone at I8. He reacted to this block by searching for another opening to the upper left side, playing at G7.

Instead of directly using a weak block, I used a strong block-weak block combination. The purpose was to extend the eventual ladder one row closer to the upper left edge. I wanted to do this because if not, his ladder would have "ran into" a weak connection with his stone at C7.

The ladder develops, running parallel to black's border. Black must stop the ladder from running the whole length of the board, which would be a win for white if it happened. He chose to kill the ladder by jumping from E9 to C9.

I now have two chains. One connecting to my top side and running on the upper left edge, and another connecting to my bottom side running to the middle of the board. But, I cannot connect them directly yet because he will win a straight forward fight in the middle area, which I felt he was stronger for the moment.

I now make the apparent attempt at cutting off his connection to his bottom right side, with the ulterior motive of stealing the advantage in the center area of the board. I start by playing at E4, threatening to cut off his E5-D3 chain.

He reacts by playing at J9, which is actually a good move because, with the aide of his I7 stone, it kills my white stone at I8. That white stone is no longer a threat, because if I connect to I8, he can smother my path to my upper right side by playing at K8.

I play at G3, which threatens black in two ways. One, by linking a chain with my white stone at E4. Two, by serving as a ladder escape along the lower right border, helping me run the length of the board on that edge connecting my two sides.

He decides to deny my former option by playing at F4. I react by keeping my latter option alive: killing black's E5 stone's access to his bottom right side by blocking at D4, and threatening to run along the bottom right border with a chain of white. He must play at E2. If not, I will play in the same spot and form an impenetrable wall along the bottom right edge. (A white E2-G3 chain, if he had let me form it, would have connected to the bottom via either E3-C3 or C1-C3. It would also connect to the top via either H2-I1 or I4.)

I extend my C3-E4 chain at F5. Note that to "buy the time" to form this little three stone chain, I used my threat at G3. Looking back, that was a crucial move.

Again, F5 threatens directly to run up to the top via H6. He can easily block at I6, but I would then be able to use H5 to connect again to G3, and then from there to my top right side. So, he cuts me off first at H5.

I then play at J8. This brings back life to my I8 stone. If I extend C3-F5 chain to H6, I can then reach my top right side with either I6 of H7. He counters by playing at H6 himself.

Now, he killed my path to the upper right side, as I expected. But in fighting over the right area of the board, I managed to link to an "escape" at F6.

I run my chain at the upper left border towards the bottom, he cuts me off. He forces me away from my D6 stone, but I run into my F7 stone. Now, notice how before, he could've easily killed this chain by blocking at E6. But having sneaked a white stone at F5, I manage to escape to the bottom left side via F6.

Also, note how this chain is kept alive to the upper right side by the J8 stone. It can reach that side via either I9 or J10.

Looking back, some of the more crucial stones for me were C3, G3, and F5. The former two threatened black in multiple ways, and kept him honest in commiting to playing on the right side of the board, while I found time to link an escape for my other chain at F6.

Some of the black stones that really gave me trouble were C7, I7, and J9--particularly I7.

Final Words:
This is one of the better games I've played. I welcome any expert to come and dissect our game (we played moderately decent, but likely made some, in an expert's eye, glaring mistakes). And for the novice, I hope this session provided some insight to the depth and (to me) beauty of hex, my favorite game.

For More:
My review on hex with some very basic strategy tips, and definitions of some of the terms I used in this session report such as weak block, strong block, and weak connection.
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Yay ! Good one. We need more abstract sessions.

I replayed your game, and I think I learned some things ! Maybe someday I'll be able to beat my math friend at UC Santa Cruz.
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Tony Chen
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Glad you liked it.
 
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