On Trax


On Trax
The New Zealand Trax Association Newsletter. Issue: 6

Do As I Say!

David Smith

nav Technicalities Part 2

(Note - the notation has been changed from the original article to reflect the new notation).

Last issue I pontificated about how one should never lose a game of Trax on a technicality. "There is really no excuse for it ..." I opined. "Careful players build white or black circles beside them and write messages like I AM BLACK on their score pads". And so on. Well take a look at this extraordinary game from the 1995 World Email Tournament.

It starts off harmlessly enough with 1 @0/ 2 A0/ 3 B2+ 4 C1\ 5 B3\ to arrive at a symmetrical pattern. A bit tricky these, as each colour has identical chances. Then black plays 6 B0/. Now some doubt exists here as to whether Black may have made a keying error intending 6 B0+ to give a four deep black line and a black edge down the right side.

Nevertheless, White is clearly put off by this White looking move which, as played suggests that she is in fact Black and her opponent has tried to turn back her line threat towards his corner. So White is now convinced that she is Black and plays 7 B0/??? Oh dear! She has made a black L for her opponent who will now play 8 A1\ and win on 10. Right? Wrong! If White thinks she is Black, why shouldn't Black think he is White and play the resounding 8 A4+? So he does. I am sure by now you will have guessed that this equally stupid Black fellow is me and that White is Kelly Martin of the US, the only woman in this year's tournament so far as I am aware.

So Kelly is lured into making the L and must have been overjoyed to realise that her much vaunted opponent has done the very thing he preached against last issue and killed it stone dead! For she it is who is first to spot this comedy of errors and play 9 E5/. Only now does yours truly wake up also.

My first reaction was to grieve for the lost opportunity. My second reaction was to read the position as an almost certain win for White. My third reaction was to wonder why Kelly had not played the even stronger 9 E4+ and get her line out to five rows across as well as to form the white edge. That hunch proved to be well founded as the opportunity shortly presented itself for Black to suss out an 11-stage salvage job from this salutary game which would not have been possible had 9 E4+ been played.

The game continued 10 C6\, capping off the edge, 11 C7\ ditto, 12 C8+ and 13 A2+ out of concern for the growing black line threat down the left side. It was at this point that my considerable embarrassment at missing the earlier winning chance drove me to spend a huge amount of time seeking out the 11-stage win I referred to earlier. And it is at this point I will pause to allow the reader to solve the same puzzle ie Black to play and win in 11.

Solution to puzzle

Here's how the game continued: 14 C0\ 15 B1\ 16 A9/ 17 B10\ 18 @5+ 19 A3\ 20 A2\ 21 @5+ 22 D0\ 23 C1\ 24 F1/ 25 E0+ 26 G3\ 27 G4\ 28 G1/ wins on 30.

Unfortunately, Kelly did not play the best available move on turn 25 where the actual game differs from the solution I found, which would continue: 25 D0+ 26 G3\ 27 G4\ (27 F4+ loses to 28 G5+ on 30) 28 H4\ 29 H6+ 30 I6\ 31 any 32 I2+ winning on 34.

Note how close three white line threats come to winning. The top threat is the one that would have stopped this sequence of moves for Black had White played 9 @4+ all those many moves ago! The middle threat is forced back on the top threat when Black has to play 29 H6+ while the bottom line remains tantalisingly close to the very end.

So a game that started off as a mini disaster and should have ended much sooner, flourished to provide an exciting battle that would otherwise still remain hidden among Trax's many still to be discovered secrets. So confusing one's colours proved not to be an ill wind after all. Or so I say, still trying to maintain my dwindling reputation as an expert on how this game should be played.

P.S. Donald Bailey has since pointed out that a shorter 8-stage win was possible from this position. His complete solution:
14  15  16  17  18  19  20   21  22   23  24  25  26  27  28  
C0\ B1\ E4+ E3/ F8+ any F3/  any win  
            any A9/ any @4+  any C0\  B1\ @1\ B0/ F1+ any win  
                                              any F2/ any win  
                                      B1+ @2+ any F1/ any win  
                                      B2\ @2+ any F1/ any win  
                                      A3+ F1/ any win  
    B2+ B1+ A1\ @1+ C0/ E1/  any B11/ any A7+ any win  
                    any B10/ any A6+  any win  
            A2+ A9/ any @2\  any A5+  any win  
    A2+ A9/ any @2\ any A5+  any win
This solution is another example of how the order in which the moves are played can be very important. This solution only works if E4+ is tried before the White lines become more serious. If played any later, White can respond with E3/. The length of the white lines to prevents Black from using the edge. The top white line also prevents black from completing the remainder of the threat (it links up to form a line attack if Black plays 26 F1/).

Overall, a very interesting game!

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