Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Round 13 - Playoffs 5 of 2016 US Tak Open

This past week saw a number more exciting games. SultanPepper and Unsweet have successfully locked themselves into the top 3 for this playoff.  Trailing behind them are other playtak veterans: Simon, Abyss, NohatCoder, Turing, Ally, and Simmon. Personally, I'm particularly interested in watching the upcoming match between Turing and Simmon.

As a bit of a prelude to this, the game I'm focusing on this week is the second in the match between Turing and Tayacan. This week, I wrote a brief, high-level annotation of the game that can be found at https://goo.gl/1co2QM or in the viewer below:

I particularly wanted to focus my deep analysis on the position after white's 12th move:

[12. b1]
While listening to the running commentary of this game on youtube, I noticed that at this point most of the commenters were focused on black pushing forward momentum with c2 or d2. What I think they were failing to anticipate, however, was white's intentions here. White does have a bit of a threat along the 4-rank, but white's greatest potential is actually in f1! If white can successfully capture this, white can make serious threats, or at the very least, push white substantially forward in terms of flats. 

Note, more so, that white currently has the tempo to push to a means where he can take advantage of this situation. And plays at c2 or d2 can be surrounded or blocked while retaining a significant lead.
Therefore, black needs to seriously consider an alternative play.

Given these considerations, my first response attempt was to play 12. ... f2:

[{12. ... f2}]
This fairly simple move counters white's ability to immediately gain control of the f1 square, while mostly maintaining tempo and tying the two on flats. In addition, white's next move here is not a particularly easy one.

Posing this position to Tako returns the move d2.  Conceptually, this is seems to be a fairly subtle move, acting on a lot of small ideas. I see it as extending white's control a bit, while simultaneously blocking the developing east-west threat from black. In addition, depending on black's response, white can also press tempo with d2-, creating an edge-based dual tak threat (d2 and d1>).

[{13. d2 c3 14. d2-} taks in grey]
While our proposed response of 12. ... f2 is a fairly straightforward approach that seems to mostly work, Tako actually seems to recommend something a bit counter-intuitive: 12. ... c3+:

[12. .. c3+]
Playing this out a bit with Tako, and it seems that Tako wants to use 2c4>11 as a deterrent to f2:

[{13. f2 2c>11}]
I'm not all that convinced that this is much better for black, since white can run south with the d4 stack or press tempo in another area, but it is certainly an interesting line.

Overall, however, I think that the original positions shows precisely a case where prisoners can actually be beneficial to a player - creating actual potential, and how white can subtly use this to press towards taks or gaining significant leads on flats.

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