Saturday, May 19, 2012

Intermediate Class Chapter One

Openings

While it is possible to apply Rule Number Two from the basic class of playing group, small, inside to most centralising openings, there is always a limit to what a general guideline can provide for you. Some openings focus more on the centralising theory while others requires in depth study of the edgeplay and checkerboarding techniques.

There are perhaps close to 100 types of standard openings each with their given names. The names of these openings and their starting few moves can be found at this website: http://www.samsoft.org.uk/reversi/. Although it is not advised for one to immediately start memorising all the openings provided there and their consequent sequences, it is always useful to have good knowledge of at least one or two openings for each colour so that you can develop your own signature opening.

In the Wzebra software, most openings are named after players who have played it first or have played very well in them. For instance, there is an opening called Tamenori which is named after the 7 time world champion, Hideshi Tamenori. However, these openings are mostly named after animals in Japan and they refer to certain openings to tiger, rabbit or snake variations. These are usually named based on the shape of the board.

We will first study the wipeout openings in order to avoid losing too early in the game and study the tougher openings later.

Wipeout Openings

There are also openings built to kill opponents who follow Rule Number Two too strictly without watching closely what would happen in at least one move ahead. These openings are called wipeout openings. The website that I have recommended above covers many possible wipeout variations. However, in real game situations, wipeout openings that can actually work to trick an opponent is far and few.

I will show here some wipeout openings I personally believe would be more likely for novice players to fall to. I will first give the entire sequence of the wipeout opening and explain the important moves accordingly step by step.

Rose (-8) Wipeout Trap

The sequence of the wipeout trap is: F5D6C5F4E7F6G5E6E3

Diagram 1-A
Following the first 4 moves of the sequence given above, Diagram 1-A shows the resultant shape. Over here, it is common for Black to play E3 in order to make a setup move to D3 or E6 to play small and group as well as to centralise his or her discs.

However, to set up the wipeout opening, one would need to play E7 which is evaluated to be (-8) by Wzebra. This sort of dispersive move will lure White to make the next move using the F5 disc.

Diagram 1-B
In this situation, it is possible that White would be considering either the G5 or F6 move. Since F6 forms a relatively more compact shape as compared to G5 which forms a more elongated shape, it is more likely that F6 will be selected over G5.

Diagram 1-C
After F6 is played, Diagram 1-C shows the final set up move that is required of Black to form a large frame by playing G5.

Diagram 1-D
Over here, after Black has played into G5, E6 becomes an obvious "hole" or gap to really jump into for playing small, group and inside following Rule Number Two that is widely known among all novice and above players. Thus, White as an unexperienced novice player may decide to move immediately into E6 without thinking much. The result is shown in the second diagram of 1-D.

As a result, Black would be able to play E3 and perform what is called a wipeout opening in order to sweep all of White's discs in one move, forming a nice Black Diamond shape in the center. Since both players are unable to play any more legal moves, both of them should pass and the game would end here.

By the rules of the game, if there are any empty squares at the end of the game, they would be awarded to the side which has more discs on the board. In this case, there are 13 black discs but no white discs. Therefore, Black would win by a score of 64-0 which is the largest margin one can win in an Othello game.

Lesson Learnt: The lesson to be learnt here is that before making your move, the minimum consideration for each move should be at least visualising 1 move ahead before you make your current move. In other words, when you plan to play a specific move, anticipate at least what your opponent might play in response to avoid moves that will immediately lose all your discs and get wiped out.

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