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Subject: Fixed board start, to reduce FPA and prevent the 5-move road win rss

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Jason Catena
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Illinois
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Here is an idea I had to reduce the first-player advantage, and to remove the easy road win (if the second player doesn't respond) from the start of the game.

White has the first move, after placing one white piece in a corner, and one black piece in each of the two adjacent corners.

In PTN it would look something like this, for a 5x5 game, where move 0 means setup:

0. --- a5
0. a1 e1

Then play proceeds with the first player's (white's) move 1.

This appears to prevent white from easily just building a road along the edge, which black must respond to, or lose the game, which robs white of a strong initial tempo. It may force white to do something more interesting on the board, possibly focusing initial attention more on the center of the board.

It gives black two pieces in places which are most difficult to connect together, and have the least influence, other than preventing the initial white edge road. They could be used to set up two black edge-roads, but this might balance white's flexibility in first placed piece, and if white is seriously concerned about this then white can play in the fourth corner.

When white places the first piece, with this initial board position, it zeroes the flat-count difference, and also zeros the difference in the number of pieces played.
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Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
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Reducing First Player Advantage seems clearly good, but FWIW I can't see any point in trying to eliminate (from any game, not just Tak) quick easy wins in cases where the opponent simply ignores your threat and lets you win.

Do you view preventing quick wins as a desirable goal in itself, or you're more just mentioning it as a side effect of your proposed setup?

I.e. there's still a short win available (only 2 moves longer), if the opponent is so obliging as to let you do it without opposing you.
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Jason Catena
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Black can still do the quick easy 5-move win, along two edges, but white has the choice what to do about it, with his first move. So I guess what I was trying to do was prevent the player with the first move from also being the player with the easiest win. With this start, as white, it feels less like the board and the tempo are mine at start. Yes, both players have a 7-piece win, even if white plays the final corner, but that isn't something I'm going to try to prevent, or even necessarily a bad thing.
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Adam Ruzzo
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I do like this idea; I might use it for a while to see how it feels.
 
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