2009 World Championship Finals, Rounds 3+
The field has been reduced to six players with another two set to be eliminated the weekend of February 27-28. The only two players that are guaranteed to advance to Round 4 are (1) chessandgo and (2) Fritzlein, both undefeated through two rounds, who play head-to-head this week. The matchups between the 1-1 players are: (3) arimaa_master versus (5) Adanac and (4) 99of9 versus (6) The_Jeh.
The majority of spectators have predicted all eight World Championship matches correctly so far, but this week's games offer far greater uncertainty and no one yet knows who the spectators will favour.
The_Jeh vs. 99of9
The game opened with symmetrical openings (except for the usual inversion of camel and elephant). The position continued to be nearly symmetrical until silver’s 5th move, when the elephant pulled a gold rabbit up to h3. Each player worked towards a rabbit pull after that but silver had the initiative and captured first on 9s. The_Jeh framed a silver rabbit on f3 a couple of moves later while 99of9 kept it alive with his elephant on e3. Silver held that slight material lead until move 12s, when the silver rabbit that was framed on f3. The framed rabbit was quickly given up as the silver elephant pushed the gold camel up to d3. The camel was easily rescued on its own turf, but the silver elephant followed up with a rabbit pull to c2, possibly the real intent of the rabbit sacrifice. With the rabbit-pulling phase concluded, 99of9 began setting up for an attack on the west side. The attack arrived on 18s when the silver horse took the unoccupied b3 square. The gold camel disrupted the attack and the silver horse withdrew, pushing a gold rabbit north to a5 along the way. With gold threatening his own Elephant + Horse attack in the northwest after 23s, the silver horse retreated back to its original station at b6. Silver probably had a slight advantage at that point due to the exposed gold rabbit at a5.
Seeking to gain an advantage, The_Jeh used moves 24-28 to try to push and pull silver pieces into the south. The 28th move threatened the silver horse in the southeast but the silver elephant was only two steps away for the rescue. The gold camel then created a second threat, freezing the western silver horse at b5 on 29g. One silver horse advanced out of immediate danger to h3 while the elephant trekked to the west to protect the other horse on 30s. Two moves later the silver horse took another step south to h2, but it was then semi-blockaded into the corner by a mass of silver pieces. An unusual standoff occurred next as the gold elephant travelled back and forth from east to west, protecting its rabbit and camel and west, then chasing away the silver camel in the east as it tried to rescue the buried horse. A second gold rabbit was flipped to the 5th rank on 37s leaving gold with two endangered rabbits on a5 and b5. The gold camel approached the unfortunate silver horse on 38g, but it was promptly chased back to the west by the silver elephant. The game took a shocking twist after 40s, as 99of9 wanted to set up a gold rabbit frame for 41s, but neglected to side-step his dog to safety. The_Jeh took the exposed dog, giving him a significant material advantage.
Though 99of9’s blunder had cost him a dog, he did not give up. In fact during the next long series of moves he outplayed The_Jeh and slowly began to dig out of his hole. After the silver elephant pulled a gold horse to h4 – simultaneously brining it closer to danger and providing an extra square for his silver horse – the other gold horse advanced to c5 on 44g, relieving the elephant from supporting the framed rabbit on c6. The silver dog positioned itself on d7 on 44s, both to stop the immediate goal threat and to participate in blocking the gold horse from advancing to c7. The silver dog was then pushed down to d5 and once again creating a second consecutive goal-in-one threat. The gold elephant altered its course on 46g, moving to g5 in order to threaten the strong silver pieces and rescue the gold horse from difficulty. As a result, the western gold horse was left alone to support the framed gold rabbit, and 99of9 immediately sent in his elephant to break the frame. Though the gold rabbit was doomed to fall, The_Jeh used his time to threaten a silver camel flip to g4. An exchange followed in which the gold horse and rabbit were captured in c6 along with the silver camel in the f3 trap. It appeared that a 2nd exchange of a gold dog for a silver cat would follow after 49s. But The_Jeh passed up the opportunity to occupy g6 with his gold horse and 99of9 was able to capture the gold dog for free.
After 52 moves the material situation was nearly even, with gold possessing the lone camel in exchange for an extra silver horse and rabbit. On 53g, The_Jeh held a gold horse hostage at b4 followed by the silver elephant occupying the d3 square for protection, while pushing the gold dog to d4 and exposing a cat on c2. The gold camel had the opportunity to pull the silver horse to g4 on 54g, ignoring the immediate threats to the cat and dog. But after the gold cat advanced north to save the dog, it found itself in trouble, instead. The cat was pulled into the c6 trap on 57s, giving 99of9 his first material lead since the opening phase. The hostage silver horse was exchanged for a gold camel on move 60, extending silver’s advantage. An exchange of cats on the 62nd move cleared the board even further and then The_Jeh charged up the west side with a rabbit on 63g. The rabbit nearly scored, but it could not be forced through. Had gold played 67g rb8s Ec8w Eb8e Hf5w, silver would have been able to stop the rabbit with rb6e rb7s cc7w. The_Jeh tried an alternate 67th move, but 99of9 could stop that as well. With gold’s last-ditch effort halted on the final step, silver was assured of winning thereafter. Gold didn’t quit, however, and continued to fight until move 78, when two silver rabbits marched down the centre aisle together to victory. This dramatic game was the longest of the entire tournament to date, and with his come-from-behind victory 99of9 will face either Fritzlein or chessandgo in the 4th round, depending upon the outcome of Adanac vs. arimaa_master in round 3.
Adanac vs. arimaa_master
The opening was a battle of two philosophies: Adanac played for a rabbit frame on c3 and arimaa_master was willing to allow that to occur. Then, the silver camel advanced to b3 on 9s, almost forcing it to be taken hostage. Thus, the strategy for each player would be clear: the silver army would attempt to hold powerful pieces on d3 and c4, dominating the southwest quadrant and freeing the silver elephant to dominate the rest of the board; before that occurred, the strong gold pieces needed to gain a foothold in the north, and gain some attacking counter-chances with strong pieces and rabbits. After 11 moves, the wheels were in motion as the silver elephant had rotated to e3 while gold horses were advanced on both wings. The action heated up after 14s, as the silver horse relinquished the g6 square to its gold counterpart. A silver dog travelled through the middle of the board on 15s, poised to take control of the crucial d3 square. After a gold rabbit charged up the east side on 16g, the silver elephant retreated to its home turf, creating dual threats against two the gold horses on b6 and g6. Adanac decided to secure the key d3 square with his dog, leaving both gold horses en prise. Arimaa_master had a very difficult decision on 17s, as he could easily capture both gold horses, though it would leave his southwest in mess. Instead, he maintained control of the c3 trap by pushing a gold rabbit to b4, blocking the gold elephant out of a key square. The g6 gold rabbit retreated, saving itself from danger, and indirectly protecting the b6 horse via a goal threat. The silver elephant shifted over to g6 on 18s to stop the goal threat, and that was immediately followed by a second gold goal threat in the west on 19g. The second threat was easily stopped in the west on 19s with extra steps available to threaten to pull the gold dog north from the d3 square. The gold camel joined the melee on 20g to threaten the central silver pieces, and moving closer to silver’s c4 linchpin. The first capture of the game was on 20s by the silver elephant pulling a rabbit into f6 and thereby re-centralizing itself at e6. An unusual decision had to be made on 20g, as there was a silver dog exposed to capture, but doing so might allow the silver pieces to regain control of d3. Adanac elected to decline the dog capture, pushing it out of the way and forcing the gold camel through to the d4 square. The framed c3 rabbit could not be saved from the camel and it was captured on 22g, evening the material balance at one rabbit apiece.
Amidst the chaotic mess of pieces, the silver elephant reclaimed the d3 square on 23s. With the silver elephant re-centralized, the gold horse reclaimed its g6 position on 24g. The gold dog had an opportunity to capture a silver rabbit on 25g and then advance to f7 on 26g. However, the gold horse on b5 was threatened with a pull to c5 after the silver elephant had shifted to c4 on 24s. Adanac opted to flee west with his horse, declining the potential rabbit capture on move 25. Arimaa_master used his 25th move to free his hostage camel to the b1 square, and left his position in such a way that none of his dog, horse or camel could easily be retaken as hostages. In the meantime, the gold horse, dog, and rabbit in the northeast seized control of f6 and captured a silver rabbit on 27g, giving gold a two to one lead in rabbit captures. The silver elephant, along with a dog partner, took back control of the f6 trap, and the invading dog had to sacrifice itself in order to save the gold horse. The gold dog was captured, quickly followed by the trapping of a silver rabbit in f3. The material balance was close, with gold possessing two extra rabbits for the lost dog. However, the silver army was in disarray with many strong pieces bunched up on the west side and lots of open space in the east. Arimaa_master elected to pull a rabbit to f5 with his elephant, while the gold camel threatened a silver horse in the southwest. The gold rabbit was captured, but a silver horse and cat were captured in return. After 33 moves, Adanac had a clear material advantage of an extra horse, cat and rabbit in exchange for a dog. However, many pieces awkwardly strewn around the board, there was still plenty of action yet to come.
While Adanac was re-arranging pieces, shifting a camel to the east and taking the silver camel hostage at c1, arimaa_master was able to capture a goal rabbit on 36s. The gold camel transferred all the way over to g4 on move 40, and then on 42g, it was aggressively placed on f5, threatening to capture both the g6 silver horse and the f4 rabbit. The silver elephant took three steps to freeze the camel at f5 which triggered a gold camel for silver camel and silver rabbit exchange. Rather than return to the southwest to protect the silver dog, arimaa_master gave it up in order to surge with a swarm of pieces in thesoutheast. Adanac had a large material edge after 46 moves, so the only question was whether or not the silver rabbit advance would work. Things got interesting after 48s, as a silver rabbit had an open path on the d-file with 2 supporting pieces. The gold elephant was able to plug up the d-file while a rabbit covered the f2 hole. The loss of the silver horse on 50g ended the final threat and soon 3 gold rabbits advanced up the board. Two rabbits could be stopped, but the third was able to stroll up the h-file to end the dramatic game on the 54th move.
chessandgo vs. Fritzlein
For the second consecutive game in the 3rd round, a player intentionally walked into a camel hostage at the beginning of the game! Fritzlein pushed the gold camel up to b7, but did so with both of his horses clumped in the northwest. Chessandgo could have exploited that by placing a rabbit on a3 and his elephant on b5 on 8g, disrupting the silver position by threatening a horse flip to c4 on the next move. When gold passed up that opportunity, a silver horse immediately jumped out to freedom at d4. The gold elephant pulled the silver horse back to d5 on 9g, and then its partner horse occupied c5 on 9s. The gold elephant pushed the newly arrived horse down to c4 but it was quickly protected by the second silver horse. Although the 2 silver horses couldn’t be pursued without abandoning the hostage gold camel, chessandgo pushed one horse onto the c3 trap. Fritzlein decided to trap the gold camel immediately rather than play for tactics in the south; the dust settled on the 13th move, after both silver horses were captured in return for a gold camel and dog. The consensus amongst most players and material evaluation programs is that Fritzlein had the better position at this stage.
Chessandgo’s 17th move was a turning point in the game as his dog raced up the d-file to the 7th rank. Had the dog been able to secure the c7 square it would have become a very powerful attacker as only two silver pieces could have possibly dislodged it from that powerful square. In reality, though, 17g was a blunder as the silver elephant was able to freeze the dog at d7 where it was doomed to capture. Knowing that his dog would fall, chessandgo used his subsequent moves to pull and push a silver rabbit into the c3 trap. During the next sequence of play, Fritzlein slowly advanced a mass of pieces down the east side while a gold horse pulled a silver cat straight down the a-file. The cat could not be captured in the southwest, however, as the silver pieces had shared control of both traps. The other gold horse advanced up the middle on 27g but the silver elephant promptly froze it at e6. Chessandgo then threw caution to the wind, sacrificing his frozen horse for the silver cat, and then beginning a full-scale advance of his forces. Gold rabbits advanced up the d, f and then a files but, as in Pickett’s Charge, the gold army didn’t have the positional strength to achieve its objectives. Fritzlein held his ground and by move 39 he had repulsed every gold advance. With no more bullets left in the golden gun, silver was strategically guaranteed to win and a silver rabbit marched to victory on move 44. With the victory, Fritzlein is now in the driver’s seat at 3-0. After 10 consecutive correct prognostications from the majority of spectators, this was the first true “upset” of the tournament as seven out of eleven spectators had predicted the top-seeded chessandgo.
There are four players remaining, with both games scheduled for Sunday, March 8th. If (2) Fritzlein wins his game against (5) Adanac, he will advance to the finals (with two lives remaining) against the winner of (1) chessnadgo versus (4) 99of9. If Adanac can pull off an upset then a bye will be awarded to one of the three remaining players and the deciding game will be held in two weeks time.
chessandgo vs. 99of9
Chessandgo opened the game with the setup that 99of9 made famous while 99of9 started with the decentralized camel setup that has brought Fritzlein so much recent success. The gold horse actually threatened to pull a gold dog on the west wing, where the silver camel was stationed, with 5g. Naturally that attracted the attention of the silver camel on 5s and in turn that attracted the attention of the gold elephant on 7g. Across the board, the gold camel on f3 was being pursued by the silver elephant. This led to a quick exchange of camels on 9s and 10g and the high octane pace of the game continued after the trade. A silver horse controlled the southeast trap by advancing to 10s on g3. Chessandgo used one step on 11g to protect f3, devoting the final three steps for the elephant that needed to protect a hostage gold horse in the northeast. The western gold horse took possession of b6 on 12g, effectively negating most or all of the value that the horse hostage may have had for silver. The position appeared to shift in gold’s favour on 14g as chessandgo was able to abandon the hostage horse while simultaneously threatening both silver horses and a silver dog in the south. The gold elephant captured the hostage horse on 14s and then dove straight down to f2 on 15s to threaten the gold dog. Concurrent to those silver moves, the gold pieces pushed the silver dog and then the horse into c3. After the gold dog was captured on 16s, the gold elephant transferred east to take the gold horse hostage.
A race ensued beginning on 18s as 99of9 wanted to quickly advance a dog to e3 – supported by as many rabbits as possible – in order to rotate the elephant away from the horse hostage. Chessandgo used his 19g to pull the silver cat to b5, revealing his belief that the cat could be pulled into the c3 trap before silver’s rotation plan could be realised. The silver cat could have been saved by moving to a5, pushing the silver rabbit south. Instead, 99of9 continued with his plan of advancing the silver dog to e3. As events unfolded, however, the dog never made it to e3 as the silver elephant counter-attacked against the c3 trap to save the cat and threaten the gold horse. The two players then traded horses, but the whole combination also resulted in two extra silver rabbits. A further miscalculation by 99of9 essentially sealed his fate as the silver cat on e6 was captured on 24g by the gold dog. Though the dog was immediately frozen and forked by the silver elephant, it was too late. A gold rabbit advanced to g6 on 25g saving the dog with a goal threat. The elephant took the gold dog hostage, which also stopped the goal threat, but the trap was soon contested by two gold rabbits, allowing chessandgo to shift his own elephant west. The elephant enabled a gold rabbit to cross over to d7 on 29g, giving the silver elephant a real headache, and then score on move 30. Chessandgo is now guaranteed a shot at the finals, and may receive a bye in round 5 depending upon the outcome of the Fritzlein vs. Adanac game.
Fritzlein vs. Adanac
Fritzlein used his standard setup with four rabbits forward while Adanac experimented with a decentralized camel. The gold elephant immediately made a run to the camel’s corner, but it scooted to safety on 3s. The elephant could have pulled rabbits while in the corner, but Fritzlein preferred to work for attacking chances in the north. A dog and horse quickly joined the elephant in the northwest and so the silver elephant had to return to f5 on 6s to bail out its camel. Adanac continued to dither defensively, so the other gold horse advanced to a6 on 9g. The gold elephant continued to harass the camel on 12g and it returned to safety on 12s with the slight compromise of a second silver rabbit. The silver camel returned to g6 on 13s, forcing the eastern rabbits to h5 and h6. Adanac attempted to force the exchange of camels on 14s though his move contained a tactical inaccuracy. Fritzlein could have frozen the silver camel to g4 with an extra step available to retreat his own camel to c3. That would have led to a silver camel hostage in the east but Fritzlein opted to exchange camels with the intention of pressing his eastern advantage. The silver horse each advanced one step on 16s, threatening to take over the b3 square while blocking the gold horse out of b6. Gold had two distinct options on 17g: pull the silver rabbits into the southeast or attack the weakened northeast trap. Fritzlein chose the latter plan, using an Elephant + Horse attack against f6. A silver horse occupied b3 before the elephant had to protect its home trap on 18s. A silver dog then gained control of g3 on 21s, aided by the gold horse’s inability to traverse the g-file. Though Adanac had partial control of both southern traps, the southwest silver horse gave up its b3 post to help the g3 dog beginning on move 22. As the horse moved away, many of the western gold pieces began to march forward.
With gold pieces advancing on both sides of the board by the 24th move, the silver elephant opted to push the gold horse into a hostage position on 24s. Two moves later the elephant gave up the horse hostage as it attempted to help a silver rabbit advance down the f-file. Fritzlein was in serious danger on his 27th move as his g3 rabbit was in danger of falling, and more importantly, the silver rabbit would become a huge menace if it could advance even two squares. A gold rabbit advanced from c2 to e3 to maintain control of the f3 trap on 27g but that should have allowed Adanac to advance a rabbit to the f3 square for goal-in-two. However, he missed his chance, only advancing the rabbit to f4. A gold rabbit occupied f3 on 28g, stopping the silver threat for the time being. The rabbit was framed on the square on 28s but immediately saved by a cat on 29g. Another silver inaccuracy on 30s, ceding the strong g3 square to the gold dog, once again stalled the attack. Fritzlein continued to put up a strong defence, getting both of his dogs into the southeast on move 33. The silver horse responded by pushing a gold rabbit to d5, effectively walling off the northern half of the board, and then the horse resumed its attempts to advance the silver rabbit. Though the gold rabbits had become imposing threats in the north, the silver rabbit still had the more immediate opportunities for advance. Both sides made consecutive inaccuracies beginning on 36g. Fritzlein missed the fact that his g3 dog was exposed, and after it was captured on 36s, the silver horse should have returned to f2. A silver rabbit advanced down to g1 on 37s, finally ending the long siege. The implications of the upset victory are a 5th round re-match between these two players, a bye for chessandgo, and an official 4th place finish for 99of9.
There are three survivors after four rounds, all with a 3-1 record. Chessandgo is rewarded with the bye because he placed first in the Open Classic while (2) Fritzlein and (5) Adanac must battle it out once more for the right to participate in the deciding game.
Adanac vs. Fritzlein
Adanac played aggressively on the east side in the opening moves but Fritzlein was able to neutralize the attack by placing his elephant on the g5 square. When the gold pieces continued their advanced in the east, the silver camel countered by threatening the gold horse in the west. Fritzlein had a strong positional lead after 14s because a gold rabbit was poorly positioned on g5 while the silver camel was poised, ready to strike in the west. The gold position was on the brink of disaster after 20s as the silver army was threatening to form a noose around the gold elephant, blockading it onto the d6 square with help from the d5 gold rabbit. In addition, the gold camel was trapped on the h-file, unable to help. In desperation, Adanac sacrificed 2 rabbits in order to free his elephant, giving Fritzlein an enormous positional and material advantage.
While the silver elephant kept a watch on the gold camel in the east, most of the action shifted to the west in the next phase of the game. With his 28th move, Adanac threatened a silver horse which was trapped along the c4 square in a very unusual way. However, Fritzlein deftly saved his horse and then established a strong 2-rabbit advance in the east. Unable to stop all of the threats, the gold army quickly collapsed during the next several moves. On 42s, a silver rabbit advanced to the 1st row, with no gold pieces anywhere around to stop it.
After winning against Adanac, Fritzlein locks horn with chessandgo in the Championship game for the 3rd consecutive year. Congratulations to both the players for consistently maintaining the top quality play and supremacy over other players. Fritzlein and chessandgo would be looking for their 3rd and 2nd Arimaa Championship title respectively.
|Seed||Participant||Name||Rd. 1||Rd. 2||Rd. 3||Rd. 4||Rd. 5||Rd. 6||W-L||Finish|
|1||chessandgo||Jean Daligault||S 8 W||S 5 W||G 2 L||G 4 W||bye||S 2 W||4-1||1st|
|2||Fritzlein||Karl Juhnke||G 7 W||S 3 W||S 1 W||G 5 L||S 5 W||G 1 L||4-2||2nd|
|3||arimaa_master||Jan Macura||S 6 W||G 2 L||S 5 L||1-2||t-5th|
|4||99of9||Toby Hudson||G 5 L||G 8 W||S 6 W||S 1 L||2-2||4th|
|5||Adanac||Greg Magne||S 4 W||G 1 L||G 3 W||S 2 W||G 2 L||3-2||3rd|
|6||The_Jeh||John Herr||G 3 L||S 7 W||G 4 L||1-2||t-5th|
|7||Tuks||Louis-Daniel Scott||S 2 L||G 6 L||0-2||t-7th|
|8||camelback||Tholkappian Chidambaram||G 1 L||S 4 L||0-2||t-7th|