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Subject: Strategy tips from the top ranked Catchup player on Little Golem rss

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Nick Bentley
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Richard Moxham recently pointed out to me that one player on Little Golem, Jos Dekker, has turned a corner strategically and is now sitting at an ELO over 2050. I looked at some of his games, and I think he's definitively better than I am (I think I'd be around 1900 on Little Golem), so I asked him for his tips. Here's what he wrote back (I'm posting this with his permission):

Quote:

Hello Nick,

First of all, thank you for this interesting game (if I haven’t done so in the past)!

Secondly I regularly use the tool of blueblimp to analyse the game for my next move:

http://malcolmsharpe.github.io/catchup-web/catchup_sketcher....

He wrote about that in the forum some time ago (Topic “Catchup Game Analysis”). It is not so sophisticated, that it changes the colour automatically and knows how many stones you are allowed to play, but it is a nice help anyway.

There are several things I learned. The best moves are those that follow these points:

1. Leave as much as possible future connections for yourself.

2. Hinder this for your opponent.

3. Make connections, when possible, that make a group or groups which is/are 1 smaller than the largest group of your opponent. Exception: make the biggest group when it is obvious that the result of your opponent is too good.

4. When you have to make the biggest group by making connections between existing groups, make this group as small as possible and keep point 1 and 2 in mind.

5. Make “territory” on the sides (as in go) which leaves space for future growth of your groups.

6. When possible: try to “sandwich” your opponent; it is typical that your opponent has only one big group and you have 2 surrounding groups. that are smaller (not necessarily 1 smaller). In this situation your opponent can only make his big group 2 stones bigger at every move and you can make 3 moves, while making territory for future growth and while quickly wrapping up your opponent’s big group. The sandwiching has to be quick enough. If your opponent can grow about the size of 19 or 20 then you’ll possibly lose, while your territory on either side won’t be big enough to grow to such a size. Not to forget: your oppenent can always react on the side where you grow, so you can only count to a maximum of half of that territory for possible growth. It could be even less, when your opponent can make his own territory inside yours.

7. Timing of connections is very important. The same connection can have a totally different impact, when played later.



I didn't know about that tool! Maybe now I can make a push to get as good as Jos. Watch out Jos!
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George Leach
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We'd be happy to see you prove it Nick!

Now that I know Jos' approach perhaps I can find some weakness in it. He's really tough to beat.
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Rex Moore
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Thanks for posting that, Nick.

Also, if you have any more strategy learnings to build on what you'd posted long ago, that would be cool as well!
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Malcolm S
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I'm glad that the webtool is seeing some use.
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Luis Bolaños Mures
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milomilo122 wrote:
Quote:
I regularly use the tool of blueblimp to analyse the game for my next move:

http://malcolmsharpe.github.io/catchup-web/catchup_sketcher....

He wrote about that in the forum some time ago (Topic “Catchup Game Analysis”). It is not so sophisticated, that it changes the colour automatically and knows how many stones you are allowed to play, but it is a nice help anyway.


I didn't know about that tool! Maybe now I can make a push to get as good as Jos. Watch out Jos!

The igGameCenter sandbox is just as good, plus you can place numbered stones now. No reason why you couldn't have used it all along!

By the way, you are missed there. What happened to real-time Nick?
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Nick Bentley
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orangeblood wrote:
Thanks for posting that, Nick.

Also, if you have any more strategy learnings to build on what you'd posted long ago, that would be cool as well!


Off the top of my head:

1. his points #1 and #3 run up against each other a little bit. The most densely connected opening patterns often make it hard to create a group of the right size. They're so connected that you end up being forced to connect more stones than you want to. This means I don't think his #1 is always true (though it is true a lot)

2. He mentioned the "sandwich", but failed to mention that if you prioritize securing territory as specified in his #5, you should focus more on making a "wrap". However, he seems really good at denying wraps, so perhaps he has found a way to make them less strong than I have experienced them to be.



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Nick Bentley
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luigi87 wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
Quote:
I regularly use the tool of blueblimp to analyse the game for my next move:

http://malcolmsharpe.github.io/catchup-web/catchup_sketcher....

He wrote about that in the forum some time ago (Topic “Catchup Game Analysis”). It is not so sophisticated, that it changes the colour automatically and knows how many stones you are allowed to play, but it is a nice help anyway.


I didn't know about that tool! Maybe now I can make a push to get as good as Jos. Watch out Jos!

The igGameCenter sandbox is just as good, plus you can place numbered stones now. No reason why you couldn't have used it all along!

By the way, you are missed there. What happened to real-time Nick?


Real time Nick became meatspace Nick. But I have been feeling the urge to return to iggc lately, so maybe I will. I have some ideas rattling around that would be good to test there.
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Nick Bentley
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milomilo122 wrote:
orangeblood wrote:
Thanks for posting that, Nick.

Also, if you have any more strategy learnings to build on what you'd posted long ago, that would be cool as well!


Off the top of my head:

1. his points #1 and #3 run up against each other a little bit. The most densely connected opening patterns often make it hard to create a group of the right size. They're so connected that you end up being forced to connect more stones than you want to. This means I don't think his #1 is always true (though it is true a lot)


Thinking more about what's really called for: I think you want both densely connected regions and not-so-densely connected regions, but the specific way you should distribute these regions on the board is entirely contingent on how your opponent plays, in ways I don't understand yet.
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Rex Moore
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As far as the open goes....

I've not yet decided whether it's smart to connect two stones on your first move (if you're the second player) or second move (if you're first player).

I've seen Jos connect both early and later, and last time I checked (a few months ago) he didn't seem to favor either strategy.

I don't think there's a top 5 player who refuses to connect until forced to (e.g. when the board is full).
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Rex Moore
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Update: There’s a relatively new player who just stormed through the top-flight championship undefeated: NapoleonGolemite. I asked Jos Dekker about him and he said NapoleonGolemite was using a strategy that was new to him (new to Jos).

I looked at their game and couldn’t really see anything revolutionary, but that says more about me than about the strategy, probably.

Here’s the game:
https://www.littlegolem.net/jsp/game/game.jsp?gid=1876817
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George Leach
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It was like he out-Jossed Jos. There is getting to be more and more focus on the second line.
 
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Maurizio De Leo
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Jugular wrote:
It was like he out-Jossed Jos. There is getting to be more and more focus on the second line.

At least he is not invincible
https://littlegolem.net/jsp/game/game.jsp?gid=1883289
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George Leach
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Good work Maurizio, good to see the competition is just getting tighter.
 
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Nick Bentley
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I noticed Jos is slumping. He appears to have slumped three times before in Catchup, in a very characteristic way. I wonder what that means.
 
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George Leach
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NapoleonGolemite has brought about a small shift in the strategic landscape focussing a little more on the second line just adjacent to a corner. This may have forced Jos to reconsider and he is perhaps settling on new winning strategies?

I know my play has a adjusted to this new approach though I'm not sure if I'm winning more or less than before.
 
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Nick Bentley
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Another game between Jos and Napoleon
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Maurizio De Leo
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milomilo122 wrote:

Another game between Jos and Napoleon

Looks like Napoleon is going to win again. That will probably be enough to regain the second place in the Infinity standings.
 
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