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Analysis of the games of the world champions

Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2022 2:12 pm
by Draganov
Hello tafl warriors!
I would like to write a small (or not so small) book about the history of the World Tafl Championship. I am planning to analyze all of the games of the world champions for the years in which they won the title. I am not going to analyze the other games except some really nice games, that I think are worth to be mentioned. I would like to start from the title of CRUST 2011 (Fetlar variant) and going further to my title in 2021. It will be useful for the new players to improve their understanding on the game and for everyone to see how the playing skills and tactics evolved during the years. It will be tremendous work, so don't expect the games analysis to be delivered soon. I will deliver them in parts in the big forum but even that way, it will take a long time. When all of the tournaments winner's games are analyzed, I will packed them in a book in PDF file and upload it for free downloading. I would also like to give some historical background on the tournament format and some info about the champions, so I will need the help of Hagbard and some other experienced players, who I am going to ask some questions about the tournaments. I don't want to include only my analysis of the games, so I would be glad if some other players analyze the games of the championship winners and publish their analysis in the forum. It will be good to see diferent opinions on some complex positions and see how diferent players understand them. It is not a problem if players with low rating publish their analysis, so feel free to discuss the games. I am going to start from the 2011 championship but you can start from any other championship. I hope that this work will be beneficial for the tafl community.

Re: Analysis of the games of the world champions

Posted: Wed Jan 19, 2022 6:00 pm
by Draganov
Here is my comment on the game between Crust and Jonas from the World Tafl Championship 2011 (Fetlar rules):

White: crust (tourn.), somerset, UK
Black: Jonas (tourn.), Arendal, Norway
Fetlar Hnefatafl 11x11
White won.
2011-08-04 23:34:18 (Copenhagen time)

1. h1-h4 Trying to surprise the champion. Tim Millar (Crust) was the reigning Quickplay Fetlar Hnefatafl champion. He won the championships that were held on the Fetlar island in 2009 and 2010. So, Jonas probably would like to try to surprise him by playing an unorthodox first move.
1…g5-g2 This move is the beginning of the so-called Millar Gambit. The aim of the whites is to force the blacks to move one piece twice in the opening stage of the game. It also creates opportunities for the whites to place their viking from g2 to j2 and occupy the corner. Moreover, the black’s viking on f2 is on danger and could be taken if the whites move e5-e2xf2. By putting pressure on f2 the whites are trying also to postpone the black’s development and open 6th rank for their king.
2.h4-h2xg2 Millar’s gambit accepted. Other possible moves for the blacks are f2-c2 or e1-e3 or e1-e2, which I consider the best response.
2…g6-g2 The pressure on f2 continues and the king is almost ready to leave his throne and attack the corners by reaching i6.
3.e1-e3 Covers the viking on f2 and prepares to take on g2.
3…g7-g3 Defends the viking on g2 and half-controls the 3rd rank. The viking from g3 is closing the possible move of the black’s viking on e3 to the right side of the board. The whites could try to kill the black’s viking on e3 by moving d6-d3 which will destroy the black’s formation on the bottom side of the board.
4.h2-h3 With this move the blacks are trying to kill the viking on g3 or g2 either.
4…h6-h10! The king is ready to reach the i6 square and attack the corners. Moreover, the viking on h10 could be used for occupying the upper-right corner. If the blacks take him by playing h3-h9xh10 it will be disastrous for them due to the attack of the king from i6 to the corners and the half-opened 3rd and 2nd ranks which are in white’s control.
5.k8-h8?? It is a mistake to leave the king to reach the i6 square. The blacks should have played j6-i6. This is the most critical point in the game. See the diagram below.
5…f6-i6 The king is ready to attack the bottom-right corner. The blacks must have covered the ‘I’ file by playing 6.k4-i4. However, even in this situation their position is really lost, and the whites could have continued with the moves 6…f5-j5 putting pressure on j6 and aiming to occupy the bottom-right corner. The other continuation for the whites that will probably lead to easy win is by attacking the upper-right corner by playing 6…i6-i11.
6.k7-i7?? Immediately losing the game.
6…i6-i3xh3 It would have been better to play 6…i6-i1 forcing the black’s response 7.j6-j1 and then 7…i1-i3xh3 killing the black’s viking on h3 with tempo.
7.j6-j2 More difficulties for the whites would have offered the response 7.j6-j3 or 7.k4-k3. If 7.j6-j3 then the winning moves for the whites would have been 7…i3-i1; 8.j3-j1 i1-i2; 9.j1-j2 g3-k3 setting up the guillotine position.
The other continuation after 7.k4-k3 would have been 7…i3-j3; 8.g1-j1 j3-j2; 9.k3-k2 g3-k3xk2; and nothing can stop the whites to play j2-k2 and escaping.
7…i3-k3; 8.j2-k2 Blocking the corner but the ‘J’ file is fully opened.
8…k3-j3 The king can reach the squares on j1 or j10 either.
9.k6-j6 Covers the upper-right corner.
9…j3-k3xk2 The corner is fully opened, and the king is escaping with ease.
10.h8-h2xg2 Desperately trying to defend the corner by placing the viking from h2 to k2.
10…k3-k1 The king escaped and Crust (Tim Millar) won this game.

Re: Analysis of the games of the world champions

Posted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:07 pm
by Draganov
Here is a short explanation about the annotation symbols that I used.
The common symbols for evaluating the merits of a move are "??", "?", "?!", "!?", "!", and "!!".
Read more about them in this Wikipedia article:

Re: Analysis of the games of the world champions

Posted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 5:10 pm
by Draganov
Here is my comment on the game between Crust and Hagbard from the World Tafl Championship 2011 (Fetlar rules):
White: crust (tourn.), somerset, UK
Black: Hagbard (tourn.), , Danmark
Fetlar Hnefatafl 11x11
White won.
2011-08-01 19:01:28 (Copenhagen time)

1.h11-h9 g7-g10 This is the so-called Millar Gambit, named after the former world champion Tim Millar (Crust).
2.h9-g9 Millar Gambit Accepted. Another possible option for the blacks is to accept the gambit by the move 2.h9-h10xg10 or to decline it by one of the moves 2.f10-c10; 2.e11-e10; 2.e11-e9; 2.f10-b10.
2…h6-h9 The black’s viking on g9 is vulnerable and could be taken or forced to withdraw. Making several moves with the same piece in the opening can slow the development of the blacks.
3.f10-f9?! This move is controversial since it defends the viking on g9 but fully opens the 10th rank.
3…g6-g8 It opens the 7th rank for the king to reach the square on ‘I7’.
4.k8-i8 This move is half-covering the ‘I’ file and aims to kill the viking on h9 too.
4…h9-i9! Good move! The viking on h9 is moved to a safer place and attacks the black’s viking on i8. It also controls the upper-right corner and can easily reach the squares on i11 or k9. Because the blacks don’t have a viking on the 10th rank, they cannot kill him. Moreover, the 10th rank can be attacked if the whites manage to move their king from the throne to the H7 square.
5.k7-h7 Covers the viking on i8 and the ‘H’ file. However, the black’s position is completely vulnerable.
5…f6-h6 The king is going to attack the viking on h7 and if the blacks move him, the viking on i8 will be killed. The king is also aiming to reach the 3rd rank and to attack both corners at the bottom of the board.
6.h1-h4 The 3rd rank is covered but the blacks are going to lose their two vikings on h7 and i8.
6…g8-h8xh7 The viking on i8 is in danger but if the blacks move him, they will leave the upper-right corner fully opened. The plan for the whites could be to place their viking from h8 to h11 and to place the king on h10.
7.e11-e10 The 10th rank is half-covered.
7…f7-i7xi8 The whites have plenty of good plans to develop their attack. They can play i8-k8 or h8-h11. The blacks don’t have even a single defender in the upper-right corner.
8.e10-j10?! It is trying to cover the corner but opens the left side of the 10th rank. It might be better if the blacks have played 8.g11-i11 but the position would still have been lost.
8…h8-h11 This move prevents the blacks from placing a viking on i11 and is also giving the king the opportunity to reach h10 with tempo because the 10th rank is half-opened, and the blacks need to cover it again.
9.k6-k9 It prevents the whites from placing another viking in the upper-right corner.
9…i7-j7 Attacks the viking on j6 and prevents him from reaching j9 and consolidating the black’s position in the upper-right corner.
10.k5-i5 Defends the viking on j6 and covers the ‘I’ file.
10…i9-j9? Attacks the viking on j10 but it gives the blacks a good chance to save the game. Probably the right move would be to advance with the king to h10 and to organize an attack to the upper-left corner or put pressure on the black’s formation on the upper side of the board. It would be even a better plan to place the king on h9 aiming to place him on j9 by playing i9-i11 and then move the king from h9 to j9.
11.f11-f10?? Covers again the left side of the 10th rank that was opened after the 8th move. However, after losing the viking on j10 the white’s attack could not be stopped.
11…h11-j11xj10 The king is going to reach h10 and to attack the corner.
12.g11-i11xj11? More difficulties for the whites could create the move 12.g9-h9 or even 12.f10-h10.
12…h6-h10 The whites set up the guillotine. The white’s viking on j9 is waiting to kill every black viking who the blacks can place on i10.
13.g9-i9xj9 h10-k10; 14.f10-j10 k10-k11 And the king escaped.