2010 World Championship Finals, Rounds 1-2
After an exciting Open Classic tournament in which many new players registered major upsets against veteran players, the old guard came back strong in the final round to claim seven of the eight spots in the World Championship Finals. The top 5 seeds all qualified in the top five positions and almost in the proper order, too. The original 6-8 seeds did not fare so well, all missing the cut. Greg Magne took the top position, as one of four players to finish 4-1, thanks to a strong schedule in which all five of his Open Classic opponents qualified for the Finals. Karl Juhnke and Jean Daligault are on a possible collision course in the second round after staking the #2 and #3 spots while Toby Hudson quietly grabbed the #4 seed without ever facing any of the other four-win players (not yet, anyway). Daniel Scott and John Herr finished 5th and 6th, respectively, with each player seeking revenge in weekend re-matches. Hervé D’Hondt earned 7th place with a dramatic final round victory while Simon Lambert was the only first-time participant to advance to the finals, taking 8th spot despite a 2-3 record due to his difficult qualifying schedule. Interestingly, the top eight players after 4 rounds of the Open Classic were the same top eight as described above; only the order of finish changed during the final round.
We officially made it through the entire 2010 Open Classic without a single forfeit or withdrawal. That, along with the higher average playing strength and the introduction of live commentary has undoubtedly made this the best Open Classic to date. Hopefully future Open Classics will continue to build upon this year's success.
- Home Page: 2010 World Championship
- Previous Round: 2010 Open Classic Round 5
- Next: 2010 World Championship Finals, Rounds 3+
World Championship Results
|Seed||Participant||Name||Rd. 1||Rd. 2|
|1||Adanac||Greg Magne||G 8 W||S 4 W|
|2||Fritzlein||Karl Juhnke||S 7 W||S 3 W|
|3||chessandgo||Jean Daligault||G 6 W||G 2 L|
|4||99of9||Toby Hudson||S 5 W||G 1 L|
|5||Tuks||Louis-Daniel Scott||G 4 L||S 8 W|
|6||The_Jeh||John Herr||S 3 L||G 7 W|
|7||woh||Hervé D’Hondt||G 2 L||S 6 L|
|8||Simon||Simon Lambert||S 1 L||G 5 L|
The double elimination phase of the World Championship begins now with all players again having a clean slate. This is the 3rd year in which the tournament has been split between an Open Classic and the Finals. In the previous two years the top three seeds have combined to go 6-0 in the first round. Interestingly the #5 seed has also beaten the #4 both years, and this year's 4-5 pairing is once again finely balanced between Toby Hudson and Daniel Scott. The number 6, 7 and 8 seeds all face enormous rating discrepancies against their respective first round opponents but the opportunity to make history with a big upset is there.
This game featured live commentary by Karl Juhnke. Omar Syed provided supporting commentary and there was also a brief post-game chat with Greg Magne. The file includes synchonized board display. The sound quality was initially poor but was corrected during the broadcast.
The game got off to a slightly stodgy start with only a single innocuous silver rabbit pull on the east side after 6 turns. Things got more interesting after both elephants travelled to the west side and a gold horse reached the a6 square on 9g. Simon Lambert made a positional error on 9s as he failed to place the dog on e6 which would have prevented a horse push to the east. Greg Magne took full advantage on 10g by pushing the silver horse to e6 thereby providing much stronger attacking chances for his own horse. A positional mistake was followed by a much more costly tactical error on 10s: the silver horse was removed from the board on 11g giving gold both a large material advantage and a very strong elephant + horse attack. The silver elephant stopped the bleeding by protecting the c5 trap on the next move while the silver horse journeyed west with the long-term hope of a counter-attack. The gold army prepared for a swarm on the west side but two consecutive positional errors (14g should have been a rabbit pull to d7 and 15g should have left the gold dog on b6) had the cumulative effect of giving the silver pieces a strong foothold in the northwest quadrant. The gold horse bailed out on 16g while littering the silver camel’s path with silver rabbits. A silver elephant blockade was possible after 18g but Lambert wisely moved the piece to the safety of c4 on 18s. The silver camel might have occupied the b6 square on the 19th turn but 19s rc6e mc7s Db6s mc6w 20g Ra4 Rc3w Ha5s da6s potentially could have given silver more difficulties than benefits. The camel entered the c6 trap square on 20s to create the dual possibility of a dog frame or hostage and so the dog fled west to a6 along with the familiar tactic of a silver rabbit obstacle at b6. Magne had the possibility of dragging the silver dog two squares south on 23g but he wanted to retreat his own dog as well, which allowed the silver dog to return to the relative safety of a5 on 23s.
After a very quickly played 24g (gold already had 21:42 in reserve!) the gold camel finally got within striking distance of the silver horse, but the move was not optimally timed due to the mobile silver elephant lurking in the distance. The camel did pull the silver horse on 25g and that should have been converted into 26g Mh5s hg5e Hg3n Hg4n with a very strong attack for gold. Instead, Magne erred by placing his horse on f5 where it was easily and wisely pushed back to the f4 square by the silver elephant. The 27g move set up the sneaky threat of a dog pull to c4 on the 28th move but it was actually a short-sighted blunder that allowed a potential elephant blockade with 27s rc6e rb6e dc5e rd8s (Diagram 1). That would have been an enormous accomplishment for Lambert who was slowly turning the tide is in his favour despite the early horse blunder (eerily similar circumstances to his first round upset victory in the Open Classic). Silver almost had the right idea but by allowing one open space for the gold elephant, it pushed its way to freedom to d6. The silver elephant took the gift gold rabbit on 28g and though the silver dog was left hanging on d5 it should have been salvageable with correct play. However, with the silver clock nearly expired, the correct 29s ee6s ee5s Df3e ee4s was overlooked and the dog was blundered away. Down by a horse and dog for just a rabbit, Lambert ran out of time thinking about his 30th move. He will face a must-win second round game against the highest-seeded losing player while Magne will face the lowest-seeded winner in round 2.
|Predictions for Gold||Predictions for Silver||Result||Winner|
|28 for Adanac in 40||1 for Simon in 50||Adanac t30||Kourosh 31|
This game featured live commentary by Greg Magne, Jean Daligault and Omar Syed. The audio & video clip commences on the 3rd move. Karl Juhnke joined the broadcast team for a post-game chat.
Both players opened the game somewhat cautiously for the first few moves until Juhnke created the threat of a double-horse pull to b5 after the 5th turn. D’Hondt overlooked the danger facing his horse and so he casually a silver dog down to d6. Two moves later the gold horse was frozen at c5 and a frame was inevitable on the subsequent move. Gold’s position wasn’t hopeless yet because the camel was on the west side and had chances to potentially break the frame. However, there was too much cautious movement by the gold pieces and not enough direct attacking by the camel. For example, (Diagram 2) 10g Mb3e Mc3n Cd3n Da3n would have put the pressure on the frame-holders but instead the gold camel dithered on the 3rd rank moving to and fro but continuously being blocked by the silver elephant. While the gold side was too passive and unable to make progress the eastern silver pieces began their march on moves 10 and 11. A strategic error was made on 12g as the gold camel moved to the east side rather than fight to break the frame. The silver elephant and camel did not impede the gold camel’s progress. Juhnke allowed the piece to shift wings over to the g3 square on 13g secure in the knowledge that his own elephant and camel could dominate the trap without any gold pieces having the ability to break the c6 frame. The silver elephant shoved the gold camel against the side wall on 15s and it appeared that gold would lose control of his home trap. In desperation, the gold elephant could stand on d6 no longer; the framed horse was abandoned and the silver horse was pushed to c4. That at least disrupted the silver attack against f3 but silver now a large material advantage and a strong position thanks to the powerful western silver horse duo.
As the game progressed, the western silver horses fought for control of the c3 and rabbits were brought down to the south for long-term goal chances. So if D’Hondt was going to have any counter-play it would have to be on the east side. But the silver camel was a g5 sentry after 17s and it effectively blocked the entry points for any reasonable counter-attack. Unable to generate any attacks at all throughout the game the gold army just engaged in trench warfare, fighting hard to hold the ground in an ultimately hopeless battle. On move 24 a silver dog reached the d3 square, completing a frame against a gold rabbit. Now the silver elephant could operate freely on the west side without worry from the gold elephant. If the gold elephant did decide to fight in the east then it would lead to a very rapid collapse of the gold defenders around the c3 square. The silver elephant initiated an attack against the silver camel which was briefly saved by the gold dog on 28g. The gold elephant then tried to save both pieces but a tactical miscalculation meant that, in addition to losing the framed c3 rabbit on 29g, the gold camel was lost anyway on 29s. Down by three pieces and with no active play on the board, the gold elephant could only choose whether to stop the bleeding at one of c3 or f3. The c3 trap was left to fend for itself and by 32s a rabbit made its way to c2 with a silver horse supporting at c1. The gold elephant pushed the silver rabbit back to c3 but that only provided new momentum for silver on the east side. After being reduced to 10 pieces, there were too many cracks in the gold ranks and a silver rabbit scored on 32s. This dominant victory, in which silver practically controlled the entire board throughout, was reminiscent of Juhnke’s first round victory in the Open Classic against John Herr.
|Predictions for Gold||Predictions for Silver||Result||Winner|
|2 for woh in 43||28 for Fritzlein in 47||Fritzlein g35||RonWeasley 36|
This game featured live commentary by Karl Juhnke and Omar Syed. There are technical difficulties at the start of the clip which can be bypassed by fast-forwarding to 3:50. Both players participated in a post-game discussion.
These two players faced off for the second consecutive week and this time the stakes were much higher (both players were guaranteed a berth to the Finals in last week’s match). John Herr, with the silver pieces, began by pushing a gold cat, then a camel to the 4th rank in the opening moves. Both pieces fled west to safety and the camel actually switched to attacking mode on 7g. Gold’s 8th move was a nice delaying tactic, using three steps that were reversible but the 4th step made important progress: now possible was 9g Mb4n Hb3n Cc3w Ra3n. However, Jean Daligault charged ahead even more aggressively on 9g by just placing his camel on b6, knowing that a possible silver camel flip to c4 on 10g gave his own camel greater security. The silver camel stepped aside to d6 while the silver elephant froze the attacking gold camel at b6. The move 10g posed immediate danger to the c7 dog and obviously some difficulties for the silver camel after it was pushed to d5. The camel took shelter at f6 on 10s but suddenly gold had three powerful attackers as a horse raced to a6 on 11g. Witnessing the massive attack in the northwest, and with no ability for an immediate gold camel hostage, Herr started to roll an eastern counter-attack on 11s. The three gold attackers entrenched themselves around c6 on 12g with an immediate silver dog frame possibility on the 13th turn. The silver horse re-claimed its original b6 post on 12s but the 13g response introduced the possibility of a horse frame. The silver camel delayed the c6 frame by attacking the g3 gold horse on 13s. The horse ran to e3 on 14g, so the tactic worked, but 14s appeared to be a costly mistake, missing an opportunity to delay the gold horse frame by at least a full turn with just a single step (dog to d6). The silver horse was framed on 15g while the other silver horse & camel built up a dangerous-looking attack at f3. The race was on (Diagram 3)! Daligault pondered for over 4 minutes on his 16g move. He had to devise a plan in this sharp position and after the long think he sacrificed a gold dog in the southeast while devoting 2 full moves to rotate his elephant away from the frame. So the question was whether the framed silver horse plus the free gold elephant could compensate for the lost gold dog and latent silver goal threats. The silver elephant would be tied to the c5 square for the rest of the game barring some kind of releasing tactic, such as a gold horse push to e6 (in reality, the elephant never moved again).
For about the next dozen moves, the entire game would revolve around the f3 locus. On the surface, the silver counter-attack appeared to be running out of steam after 18 turns because of the potential silver camel hostage. But, as became clear as events unfolded, Herr could use his camel, horse, dog and rabbits in a coordinated fashion to provide endless headaches for the gold elephants and its relatively weak allies. A brilliant 20s tactic prevented a camel hostage by threatening the gold dog. The gold elephant pushed the pesky horse to h4 on 21g but that temporarily conceded a strong position around f3 for the silver pieces. After playing so ingeniously up to this point, Herr made a major strategic error on 21s by needlessly giving pushing the gold cat onto the f3 trap. Not only did this move give gold an extra crucial defender in the east but the cat could have been profitably frozen at d3 where it would have partially shielded the silver dog from a later western push by the gold elephant. The silver dog was pushed to d3 on the 24th move but silver had one saving grace: the e5 rabbit was poised to bump the dog down to d2 which placed strong pressure on the gold position. Daligault went into another long think on 25g, this time for 4:37. He could capture the silver dog immediately but that would cause his own dog to be lost on 25s, though with the benefit of a silver camel hostage on the following move. If he didn’t take the silver dog right away the opportunity might never re-appear once a silver rabbit reached d4 (a scary piece in its own right) and the dog pushed its way down to d2. The dog trade was selected on the 25th move with the result that 3 dogs were off the board: 2 gold and 1 silver. A clever tactic on 26s prevented the camel from being flipped to d3 and endangered the gold cat as well. But gold’s position was rescued thanks to a reversible move. Running very low on time on 27s, Herr did reverse the steps knowing that it would buy him an extra 90 seconds of thinking time for 28s. But gold undid the reversal in just 9 seconds forcing silver to deviate.
The tide started to turn in gold’s favour on the 29th move. Daligault began his counter-attack with a mobile central rabbit (Diagram 4) while the silver response on 29s seriously weakened his goal defence in a very difficult position. Herr’s conundrum was that a horse advance to f2 could unfreeze the camel but would allow the gold cat to take control of g3. He tried to resolve the dilemma by calling in his dog to take care of the cat. The central rabbit continued its surge on 30g and it was starting to appear unstoppable due to large number of supporting gold pieces and the immobilized silver elephant. So the silver dog had to reverse course on 30s to address the rabbit problem. The final error came on 31s and Daligault correctly froze both the silver camel and horse, shutting down virtually all of silver’s counter-play. The only free silver piece that could counter-attack against g3 was the silver dog but it was also a vital defender in the middle. But desperate times call for desperate measures and the dog abandoned its defensive post for an offensive role on 32s. The silver camel was pushed into c3 on 33g which gave gold the material lead for the first time and that would be the last capture of the game. With the south-east attack halted the gold rabbit pushed ahead to d6 on 36g and it would barely be possible to slow it down unless the silver elephant abandoned the frame and pushed the rabbit onto c6. Move 37g was a forced goal-in-two and the execution was flawless. The entire process of weaving the gold rabbit right up the middle of the crowded board was quite beautiful to behold and it reached the f8 square on 38g. Although he received no votes in the spectator prediction contest, Herr impressed everyone with his bold and creative play throughout the game. Daligault survived the onslaught with his sharp play and will next meet his arch-rival Juhnke in the marquee game of round two.
|Predictions for Gold||Predictions for Silver||Result||Winner|
|30 for chessandgo in 43||0 for The_Jeh||chessandgo g38||rabbits 37|
This game featured live commentary by Omar Syed.
Many expected this to be the most exciting game of the first round and they were right! Within the first 9 turns the gold horse had time to attack in the northeast, run back home and then get pushed back up to h6 by the silver elephant. Toby Hudson, with the silver pieces, took the horse hostage at h7 with his camel on 9s while his elephant was free to roam elsewhere. Although this seemed to be a big strategic advantage for silver, no tangible results were achieved by the silver elephant through 17 moves and it even had to return home to protect a dangerously exposed f5 silver cat. Daniel Scott, with his 18th move, clogged up the east side which, combined with the western gold & silver horse deadlock, meant that silver would have to work very hard to get a material advantage despite the early gold horse hostage. The silver elephant went back to the west on 20s trying to push and pull various pieces while the gold camel travelled to h5 to create a (very) long-term threat against the h6 silver horse, or perhaps to assist a silver camel pull to g5 if the gold elephant could ever achieve it. The silver elephant had no luck with trapping gold cats though it is surprising that the e4 gold rabbit was not flipped to c4 on 23s. Instead, the elephant had a more ambitious objective: the gold horse was held hostage at b5 leaving gold with a hostage horse on each wing. Despite the dual horse hostages, gold’s position improved rapidly during the forthcoming series of moves. The key to gold’s fortunes lay with the f5 camel which was able to guard the f6 trap with a wall of pieces standing between it and the silver elephant. And not only did the b5 hostage horse escape its predicament, it reached c7 on 26g giving gold strong control over the c6 trap. But until the precarious f6 situation was resolved, the game would be very unclear. Silver’s 26th move seemed to be premature because 26s ra8s hb5e hc5n Cc4n would protect the horse before the silver elephant moved east (the elephant could not be blockaded from later reaching e6 unless the gold elephant took that square away). On 27g the silver horse was pushed south to the c4 square from whence it could not be saved.
Scott took the early material lead with the silver horse capture on 28g and his free horse also took a step towards the f7 square, which likely would have clinched a winning position for gold. Hudson had 2 very interesting options on 28s to halt the gold horse at d7. The first would be a forced capture of (at least) the e6 gold dog with 28s Mf5s ee5e rf8w rc8s or, secondly, by holding the d7 horse hostage with the elephant. The silver elephant employed the latter option which left silver with two apparently powerful gold horse hostages. What allowed the gold position to remain safe for the time being was the clutter on the e-file resulting in a safe gold camel (Diagram 5). With the position at a temporary standstill in the north, a silver horse blazed a trail down the h-file on 30s. If a silver rabbit eventually followed, they could form a potent duo in the southeast. In the meantime the gold elephant was fighting around the c6 trap. The silver dog was pulled down to b5 on 31g but the move likely would have been more effective if the gold dog had occupied b6 on the final step. The silver dog used its window of opportunity to flee all the way to b2 on 31s. Both elephants departed the c6 trap on the 32nd turn: the gold elephant wanted a silver dog hostage just as the silver elephant finally wanted to achieve its long awaited breakthrough at f6. At the completion of 34 moves the firework show was about ready to begin. Scott sacrificed a gold rabbit on 35g as part of the plan to save his camel. Hudson used three steps to take the rabbit and used his final 35s step to place a dog on d5, a gamble of epic proportions. The implications of this dog step were massive: the silver elephant would not be able to protect the two horse hostages at f6, gold would take control of the c6 trap with open gold rabbit lanes on the a- and b-files and the silver elephant could soon assist the goal attack in the southeast. Yes, that dog step set the wheels in motion for an incredible finish!
After 38g the battle lines were drawn and each player knew that no time could be wasted in the ensuing rabbit race. Each side had 13 pieces on the board but silver had the slight advance of 2 horses and 1 dog on the board versus 1 gold horse and 2 dogs. The b1 gold rabbit took its first two hopeful steps on 39g while the camel fought to slow down the eastern attack. Scott had no interest in ever capturing the d7 silver rabbit because it created a nice barrier for the silver camel as the gold rabbit ran up the b-file. Meanwhile, the silver horse and elephant were in a fierce battle for space in the southeast and it wasn’t easy to make progress with so many gold defenders in the way. But a brilliant 42s suddenly gave silver some serious goal threats (Diagram 6). On the surface it appeared to be a false protection against the gold dog but on 43s Hudson revealed his real intent by creating a goal threat, preventable only by one forced move, followed by a cat capture on 44s with a renewed goal chance. Following a single step on 45g to block the vital f1 square, a gold rabbit shifted the action back to the northwest with a 3 step drive to b7. The only saving move was to place the silver camel on d8, impeding the gold dog before it could deliver the coup de grace. Despite being optically so close to goal, gold face a time-consuming operation to advance the rabbit that final step: on 46g the elephant shifted to b6 hoping to pull out the a8 silver rabbit. But it was too late because silver had already found the ingenious goal-in-three plan 46s Df1w ef2s rg2w hg3s (the rabbit advance e7 to e3 would have been far less effective on 46s because of the gold response a1 rabbit to e1). Both players are to be congratulated after such an incredibly tense and exciting game!
|Predictions for Gold||Predictions for Silver||Result||Winner|
|12 for Tuks in 52||19 for 99of9 in 51||99of9 g48||Aamir 48|
The top four seeds all won their opening round games, the first time that has ever occurred since the adoption of the current format for the 2008 World Championship. Previously, the #5 seed had won both first round matches. The two most exciting games in the first round involved a dramatic rabbit race in Tuks vs. 99of9 and a great “battle for f3” between Chessandgo and The_Jeh. In the second round, there should be a huge audience for the much-hyped re-match between the two best Arimaa players. Note that Chessandgo gets gold for the second consecutive round because colour assignments carry over from the Open Classic. The winner of that game will play the winner of 99of9 – Adanac in round 3, while the next four players are fighting for the opportunity to compete in the third round.
This game featured live commentary by Omar Syed, beginning with move 12.
Greg Magne, playing silver, prepared for an early attack with a horse advance to b4 on 5s. The gold camel crossed over to freeze the horse on 6g, setting up long-term chances for a horse hostage or frame. Move 8g was a huge blunder that should have lost the gold camel. Toby Hudson realized his mistake and had to endure 2:36 of discomfort during a long think on 8s but he then experienced a feeling of relief thanks to his opponent’s counter-blunder. A horse + dog attack against the f3 trap on 9s prompted the gold horse to return home on 10g. As the silver pieces attempted to increase the pressure in the southeast the gold frame-holders were re-arranging themselves on the west side. The frame could have been dropped with 12s ed3n hc3x ed4e Hf4n ee4e 13g cd5s Ec5e Ed5e Hf5e 13s ef4n de3e df3n Rg3w Rf3x but the vague goal threats in the southeast would not justify the loss of the silver horse. So the silver camel moved down to a3 hoping to break the frame and the horse did successfully jump out to b3 on 13s. In the meantime, the gold horse quietly slipped away to the north where it could threaten both silver traps effectively. The silver camel tried to push its way through to help in the east but the gold elephant dashed the camel’s hopes on 16g, also threatening the f3 dog in the process. A dog trade was offered on 16s but declined on 17g. Instead, one gold horse turned up the heat on the f2 silver horse while the other secured the c6 trap. A silver dog raced down the f-file on 18s to protect the horse but at the steep cost of leaving the northeast quadrant vulnerable and weak. With the f3 trap on the brink of a gold takeover, three powerful silver pieces threatened a camel capture on 19s but it was re-protected on 20g. Silver’s 20th move, made with only 20 seconds left in reserve, seemed a bit weak compared to framing the gold rabbit on f3 (with a silver rabbit on g3), which would have at least slowed down silver’s southeast counter-attack considerably – the play became so sharp in the following moves that the trap reinforcement was never achieved. A gold rabbit darted up the b-file on 21g and the silver cat should have immediately leapt across the trap to slow it down from the b6 square. That defensive window of opportunity vanished on 22g when the rabbit advanced to a6 with a strong horse on c7 ready to assist. The silver camel returned home on 22s having been demoted from a powerful attacker down to a rabbit-stopper. Gold could have taken over the f3 trap on 23g with a non-reversible move by putting his cat on d2. But Hudson let his opponent off that hook and then made an ill-advised silver horse flip onto the c3 square on 24g.
In addition to the major goal threat along the a-file, gold finally gained the upper hand at f3 on 26g by threatening the silver horse and then dog. But silver took the early material lead with a cat capture on 26s to go along with a goal-in-one opportunity. The gold camel blocked the silver rabbit’s path on 27g while an eastern rabbit stood poised for a lethal breakthrough to h7. A silver rabbit occupied the h7 square on 27s while the camel pushed its way to b5. The a6 rabbit was left unfrozen because of an unusual equilibrium: as long as the gold dog stood on the c6 trap the silver camel would have a difficult time reaching b6 and b7 but the dog also hindered its own horse from effectively pulling the a7 rabbit aside. An uneven exchange of pieces on turn 28 left gold with an extra horse in exchange for both cats. The tricky 30g Hf4e df5s df4s df3x Hg4w 30s mb5e Rb4n Rb1e hb2s 31g Rg5e Hf4e Hg4n Mb2s would lose because the camel could be flipped to d2. And pulling the silver rabbit to a3 on 31g (in the hypothetical line above) would be tricky to defend against 31s ec2w Rc1n hb1e Ra1e due to the e4 rabbit, so to be safe an extra gold rabbit crossed over to the west side on gold’s 30th move. But the final step was an error that needlessly removed the valuable gold dog off the c6 trap square, that piece which had been blocking the silver camel away from b6. The camel was forced to step north on 30s to stop the gold rabbit from reaching a7, and it gladly did so. The eastern silver dog was removed on 31g to give gold a sizeable material lead and possibly the stronger position, though silver still had a couple of positional strengths in the now-mobile camel and an h3 rabbit on a barren wing. In fact, all 4 quadrants contained enemy rabbits but none had any immediate prospects for advancement (Diagram 7)…not yet. Hudson’s material advantage began to slip away on the 32nd turn when the gold dog was left exposed and then pushed into c6. The final step on 32g was the blunder, prompted by the threat of a gold horse hostage on b7. Giving up the northwest pieces in exchange for the southwest appeared to be like the better long-term strategy because even after a whole-sale clearing of the western flank the gold army would still remain strong. On the 33rd turn the gold horse was being hunted by the silver camel, which could only be pursued in turn by the gold elephant if the d4 rabbit was first neutralized. The gold horse was frozen on 34s then pushed into f6 on 35, leaving silver ahead by two cats plus strong winning prospects thanks to three advanced rabbits. After 36s all of silver’s rabbits caused trouble for the gold defenders. Choosing the gold elephant to stop the h3 silver rabbit would create a gap on the e-file and using the c1 gold rabbit to propel the d2 dog three squares east would allow the a2 rabbit to score at c1. So the best method to slow down the rabbit would have been 37g Hg4e Hh4w rh3n Rh2n. The 37g actually played allowed a goal-in-two and the silver rabbit reached the g1 square on 38s. Magne earned his second win of the tournament in this complex struggle. Hudson still has a second life and he is guaranteed to face the winner of John Herr (The_Jeh) vs. Hervé D’Hondt (who) in the third round.
|Predictions for Gold||Predictions for Silver||Result||Winner|
|7 for 99of9 in 45||24 for Adanac in 45||Adanac g38||Tamashii 38|
Both elephants put pressure on the opposing camels for a few moves before the gold elephant attacked the western silver horse from above on 5g. With the gold elephant far removed from the southeast quadrant, the silver camel charged to g4 on 5s, got blocked out from the g3 square on 6g and then returned home on 7s. Through the first 10 moves nothing had been achieved by either side, other than a silver rabbit having been pushed down to the 6th row. The first tangible threat came on 12g because of the silver horse that was blockaded at the b4 square after it walked into a dangerous position on 11s. Daniel Scott likely had a semi-blockade at c5 in mind with his 12s move and so the gold elephant went in search of more open pastures on 13g. An alternative, and potentially stronger, idea would have been 13g Ha4n ra6n Ha5n Eb5e, with no semi-blockade threat and a better potential elephant + horse attack for gold than silver on the west side. Simon Lambert repeatedly tried to generate threats with his gold elephant in the northeast but to no avail. He missed a forced silver horse frame on 21g, though that would have led to the eventual loss of an eastern gold rabbit. The silver horses finally both ran to safety on 21s and so a symmetrical rabbit threat was tried by a gold horse on the west side. The gold elephant attempted to save its rabbit on 24g but wisely passed up on 25g Rg6e Eg5n Eg6s rg7s 26s hc5s hc4s Cc2e hc3s. But the rabbit should have been saved on 26g by pulling the silver rabbit onto the f6 square. Rather than protecting the gold rabbit and capturing the silver one, instead the gold piece was lost on 26s and the silver rabbit capture had to be delayed due to numerous threats against the gold side. At last, the material was even at one rabbit piece after 32 moves, with both sides having a serious distribution of force imbalance between the eastern and western halves.
The first 33 were rather timid and the board still resembled an opening position at a time when many games are approaching the endgame! But that all changed on 34g because of a positional mistake that left a gold horse in severe danger in the middle of the board. The error could have been mitigated by creating a counter-threat with 35g Ee5e hg5s Ef5e Ha3n but instead Lambert dug himself in deeper by hurling his camel up to b6. An astute 35th move by Scott guaranteed himself a significant edge because 36g Ee5e hg5s Ef5e Mb6s 36s ed6w He6w ec6w Hd6w Hc6x 37g Ha3n Ha4n Mb5s Rb2n 37s cc5e eb6s eb5e Mb4n would buy the silver elephant enough time to protect its own horse. Rather than attempting the above losing combination, the gold camel simply retreated to the safety of c4, losing the gold horse on 36s but the gold elephant immediately counter-attacked the silver camel on 37g. A rare but fascinating three-move three-piece sacrifice was available on gold’s 38th move (Diagram 8): 38g Cc2n Mc4w Cc3x mf4s mf3x Ef5s 38s ed4w ec4e Mb4e cb5s 39g Rc1n Rc2n cb4s Mc4w Rc3x 39s ed4w ec4e Mb4e rb7s 40g Rb2e Rc2n Mc4w Rc3x Mb4w!! Even had that remarkable combination been played, silver would have retained an enormous advantage with a stronger position plus a horse, cat and two rabbits in return for the lost silver camel. In actuality, the 38th turn was played as described but Lambert overlooked the tricky 39g and the gold camel was lost on 39s. The silver cat was taken by the horse on 40g but Scott still retained his full horse advantage. A horse trade ensued on the 43rd turn before the gold dog tried to cross over to the western flank on 44g to re-balance the gold forces. The silver elephant would allow no such thing, however, and by 47s a crushing elephant + dog attack was completed at the c3 trap. The attackers were joined by a silver rabbit on the a-file which then reached the goal line on 51s. Scott survives another week but his next must-win game will be a very difficult test against the loser of Jean Daligault (chessandgo) and Karl Juhnke (Fritzlein).
|Predictions for Gold||Predictions for Silver||Result||Winner|
|4 for Simon in 41||27 for Tuks in 41||Tuks g51||Tamashii 47|
This game featured live commentary by Greg Magne,Omar Syed and Eric Momsen. Momsen left the broadcast part-way through the game to commentate on the next game, shown below. Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor in some parts of the file. Both players joined a question-and-answer session at the end of the game.
The tone was set for a wild opening when Karl Juhnke opened with his silver elephant on f7 and a rabbit on d7. Jean Daligault didn’t defend his g3 square before launching an elephant + horse attack directly at the western silver camel on turns 3 & 4. A silver rabbit defended the c6 trap via c5, and although it vanished on 6g it had delayed the gold attack long enough for the defending camel to better place itself on c7 while freezing the invading horse at b7. So, despite losing the early rabbit, silver had already won the opening with a strong defensive position in the northwest and a powerful attack in the southeast plus extra time in reserve. The surprise opening had already proven to be an effective gamble. Unable to hold the f3 fort, a gold camel and cat fled to the west but the f1 rabbit had nowhere to run and it was captured on 8s. After the wild opening sequence, both sides were able to rebuild their defences enough to deter any more captures for the remainder of the opening phase. The gold camel briefly joined the attack around c6 before being ushered to the east by the silver elephant. A silver horse stood alone at g3 but Daligault didn’t want his gold camel to lure the enemy elephant back to the southeast and so the camel voluntarily looped back to c4 on the 12th move. The advanced silver horse pulled out of the southeast quadrant on 14s, simplifying the board considerably after a very complex, tactical opening. A silver horse crossed over the middle of the board in the early middle-game and it threatened a dog frame after 17s. The dog averted that fate by pulling a silver rabbit onto the c6 square on 18g. But the horse also had a second, less obvious, motive for being in the center of the board: to push the gold cat to f5. The horse seemed dangerously positioned at f4 but even a delaying tactic with the d7 rabbit would be too slow: 19g Ed6e rd7s de5s Ee6s 19s Cf5n Cf6x hf4n cf7s hf5e and although gold could temporarily possess the material advantage on 20g, it would not hold up for much longer. So the far better plan for gold was to add a second dog defender to the c6 trap while the elephant challenged the eastern silver pieces. The cat could have been framed on f6 on 19s but Juhnke deemed it more strategically important to fight for the key c6 trap than to worry about the cat frame. The positional skirmish for the adjacent squares to c6 went back and forth while the gold cat slipped back to f4 on 21g. A critical position was reached after 21 moves in which three gold pieces faced various degrees of danger: the c3 rabbit was vulnerable with only a single protector, the e5 cat could be pushed into f6 and saving it with the elephant would expose the c5 dog to the c6 trap (Diagram 9). Although 22g Rc3n rc7n Dd7w Hg5w seems risky at first glance, the position would have withstood any counter-try on 22s. Instead, the c3 rabbit was left undefended and Juhnke had his first material lead of the game at the end of 22 turns.
Losing the c3 gold rabbit was a mistake but at least it provided the gold forces an extra move to re-group. A second gold dog pushed its way to the 7th rank and the eastern cats backed away from the danger at f6 after 25 moves. The gold elephant was comfortably placed on c6 but it had to push its way back onto the d6 square on 26g in order to keep a dangerous silver rabbit bottled up. After the c6 trap was vacated a silver horse crossed over the square to take a gold dog hostage at c8 on 27s. In addition to having an extra rabbit on the board, the silver side now held three hostages at the c6 trap. Daligault tried to break the a6 hostage free with the three-repetition rule on 29g but Juhnke cleverly varied his elephant position on 29s to avoid the consequences of that rule and to give impetus for his a3 dog to potentially attack the c2 square. With opportunities drying up in the west, the gold army looked east for new possibilities. After the camel stopped the a2 silver dog in its tracks, the eastern gold horse used three steps to threaten a silver dog at e4. The real purpose of the dog push, however, was to clear the g6 square for a horse + rabbit attack at the f6 trap. The silver horse protected its dog from the f4 square (to remain close to the northeast trap) and then the gold attack began on 32g. Advancing the gold rabbit far to the north would not be easy, and the first attempt was correctly repulsed by the silver cat with a push back to g5. Realizing that the chances for victory with a conventional strategy were growing slim, Daligault decided to gamble everything on 33g by calling upon his elephant to assist the horse and rabbit in the northeast. Juhnke again made a strong defensive move on 33s by blocking the f6 trap to stymie any horse move to g6. Both players overlooked a strong gold horse move beginning on move 34. By failing to place silver rabbits on both e6 and f6 during 34s the gold horse had a window of opportunity with 35g Ee7s rf7w rf6n Hf5n (Diagram 10). Instead, the gold horse stood on f5 while the gold elephant fought its way over to the g-file. The attack stalled on 35s because the gold horse was pulled west and frozen at e5 as the silver horse stood securely on f5. Additionally, the silver elephant was wisely placed on the d5 square, rather than e6, so that the gold camel would have no chance to protect the northwest trap via c5. Another strong defensive move on 37s left many gold pieces hanging and vulnerable with the gold elephant horribly placed on g6.
Gold’s last available resource was the camel that could not be pursued by the silver elephant without re-activating the e5 gold horse. Rather than worry about the gold camel, Juhnke initiated a four-for-four piece exchange on 38s that left him ahead by a full horse at the end of 42 turns. With no miracle goal on the horizon, Daligault had to bring his elephant back into the action while fighting a full-board battle a piece down. The gold elephant couldn’t challenge the silver army on both halves simultaneously so it focused on one last rabbit charge in the east as the silver elephant took care of the gold camel on 50s. A goal-in-three would have been unstoppable with a rabbit advance from c7 to c3 on 53s. Rather than that simple winning move, a slower plan was selected on the 53rd turn. Incredibly, what seemed to be a guaranteed victory on 53s suddenly looked scary for silver after 54g. But although a rabbit did reach e7 on 55g the threat was illusory. The gold rabbit had no possible way to score and the 55s move correctly set the table for a goal-in-one threat on 56s while leaving the gold rabbit 5 tantalizing steps away from the 8th rank. Juhnke won a hard-fought battle in which he appeared to have the advantage all the way from moves 3 to 56, despite a few scares along the way. This was the first game of the Finals in which only a minority of the Spectator Contest participants backed the winning player.
|Predictions for Gold||Predictions for Silver||Result||Winner|
|22 for chessandgo in 44||9 for Fritzlein in 45||Fritzlein g56||Hippo 59|
This game featured live commentary by Eric Momsen. The clip begins on the 6th turn. There is an accompanying video board display up to move 60.
Both elephants spent the opening 17 moves to pull various cats, dog, horses and camels, but to no avail: the first 25% of the game passed by with no concrete result for either player. But on the 18th turn Hervé D’Hondt noticed that with the gold elephant 11 steps away from the c4 square a perfect opportunity to introduce the silver camel into the play had arisen. The camel chased the gold horse around for a few moves until the horse found itself cornered at a2. John Herr, rather than burrow his horse into b2, delayed the potential horse pull by counter-threatening a silver horse at h3. But rather than posing any real danger to the silver horse, the silver elephant + horse combination simply converted the situation into an attack at the f3 trap. Silver could have gained a strong advantage on the 23rd turn by pulling the gold horse to a4 with the silver camel at b4 (Diagram 11). If the gold elephant had frozen the camel via c4 (otherwise, a clear advantage with a later horse push by the camel) then the f2 gold rabbit would have been lost and the powerful g3 horse would have provided a pillar of strength in the east. Nonetheless, D’Hondt obtain a material lead with a safer and more conventional strategy. By slowly pulling out a gold rabbit and then pushing it offside to the north, he was ahead by one rabbit after 28 turns. That was quickly followed by a second gold rabbit push into the north on 29s, but this time Herr at least found some compensation for an endangered rabbit: the western silver horse was encircled at b4 before being taken hostage at a3 on 33g. The eastern silver horse captured the second gold rabbit on 33s, giving silver the better chances despite the problems in the southwest. A swarm of gold pieces built the perfect a3 horse hostage on 34g, complete with horse linchpin at a4 and supporting pieces at a2 and b2 but the silver camel lurked nearby as a potential spoiler.
Rather than hold his camel on the west side for a possible hostage-break, D’Hondt dispatched it over to the weaker east flank. Even though the silver camel posed a major threat on the eastern wing, Herr astutely kept his elephant in the west long enough to add another brick (a silver b4 rabbit) to his already formidable fortress around the a3 hostage horse. During the next few moves it became increasingly obvious that the gold plan was the correct one. The silver camel tried, but did not have enough time, to push a strong gold piece offside. And the hostage horse could not be freed directly unless the silver camel returned all the way back to the west side later in the game. However, not only did the silver camel never to the west, it became a second silver hostage on the east side. And so D’Hondt’s only two options were to abandon the horse (a bit too much to give up with a 2-rabbit lead) or rotate the silver elephant to e3 while using smaller pieces to defend c3. The only strategy that put up a fight for the advantage was the latter plan and so on turn 43, just in the nick of time, a silver horse occupied d3 so that the silver elephant could defend the eastern trap from e3. Accurately detecting that his a4 horse was no longer necessary as a linchpin, Herr used the piece as a second attacker against the c6 trap on 45g. That represented a serious challenge to silver’s control over the home c6 trap and, in fact, 46g Hc5n cd6e Hc6e would have essentially destroyed the silver position; in no way could there have been any resistance against a 3rd vulnerable trap. The failure to play that 46g only delayed gold’s decisive advantage, it did not do any damage to his already existent positional dominance.
With a second lease on life, Dhondt played more aggressively by advancing rabbits to the south, certainly his best chance to regain his footing in a game that was slipping away. However, a sharp 52nd move by Herr suddenly robbed the entire southern silver army of any real mobility. With nothing better to do, the silver elephant at least succeeded in freeing the silver camel hostage, and it fled to h1 on 54s. Dhondt’s chances for a comeback (he was losing despite having a 16 to 14 piece lead!) vanished on 55s. His elephant had broken north of the 3rd rank, the camel was safely tucked away at h1 and there were threats against two fourth-rank gold pieces (Diagram 12). Herr correctly noted that, despite all of the aforementioned factors, he could thoroughly destroy the silver position by first placing his elephant at e3 on 56g, with a later frame-break at c3 to follow. After being behind in the piece count for the previous 28 turns, the gold side came storming back with 5 piece captures between moves 57 and 63, versus 2 for silver during the same period! Silver rabbits attempted to advance along the h-file, possibly to be assisted later by the h1 camel, but that wing was too cluttered for the idea to work. Conversely, the western half of the board was wide open for the gold horse and, close behind on it tail, a gold rabbit. The rabbit gold rabbit raced to victory on 68g without too much difficulty. John Herr will face Toby Hudson in the 3rd round while Hervé D’Hondt finishes the tournament in a tie for 7th place.
|Predictions for Gold||Predictions for Silver||Result||Winner|
|27 for The_Jeh in 46||4 for woh in 62||The_Jeh g68||RBriney 68|