Some people have achieved considerable experience in the popular logical board games. This people are capable to win against other competent players, but can not to formulate (or to explain) the principles of successful play.
It is usually recommended to any novice player in simple draughts to adhere to some basic principles, for example:
ท To not lose the draughts and to try to capture the draughts of the opponent.
ท To occupy squares in center of the board by the own draughts.
ท To limit the moves of draughts of the opponent forcing him them to lose his pieces.
The players use these criteria to evaluate of advantage or disadvantages of the position as it is customary in the actual game.
But these principles are incorrect for columns draughts (bashne (rus.) - towers). For example, it is possible to lose some draughts and to have nevertheless a good game situation.
The game practice has detected the criteriaof game advantages for the columns draughts.
Height of a column:If the more own draughts enters to the column, then it has the greater game force. (But! The useful increase of an amount of draughts of a separate column had led to empty of other squares of the game board and will result in to attenuation of the position).
" A Negative potential ":The "weak" column has negative potential. The weak columns are consist of 1-2 upper draughts and they hold in the down part of column some draughts of the opponent. The columns of this type can be attacked by the opponent and turned into opponents columns.
It is possible to formulate three ground rules of good strategy:
At first, it is necessary to capture under the own pieces more possible set of draughts of the opponent. Secondly, it is necessary to move columns with a plenty of "prisoners" of draughts into depth of own position. Thirdly, it is necessary to attack the opponent by the most high columns, attempting to transform his most weak columns with the purpose to make free the own pieces.
However using of these principles of game is the kind of the art and it demands skilful application of the tactical methods (see "AG" Issue 7 Autumn 2001" Bashne: Basic Tactical Methods"). The position with large material odds can be losing because of a capability of tactical combinations.
The tactical methods, known in usual draughts, was subjected to essential revision. For example, if in simple draughts the lock-out of pieces of the opponent is an infrequent and unexpected game method, in columns draughts endspiele the lock-out is as one of basic as tactical means, and way of completion of a win.
These properties of columns draughts also led to that the beautiful invented combinations in a reality can be losing.
Black have selected the tactical method, which one, as it seemed, provides material odds: 5....c5b4, 6.a3:c7 c7b6, 7.a7:c5 f6g5, 8.h4:f6 e7:g5?(More preferable 8... g7:e5 with equal chances) 9.c5:e7 f8:d6
Black supposed, that White necessarily will play 10.h6:f8? (see diag.2) And then Black will achieve considerable odds: 10....h8g7,11.f8:h6:f4:c7 e7:a3,12.g5:e7 b8:f8.
Black hold reliably 4 whites draughts in columns on the squares a3, f8 and have strong high columns (see diag.3).
But White have analyzed the position (Diagram 2) more carefully and have made the contrcombination: 10.h6:f4! f6:h4, 11.f4e5 d6:f4, 12.f2g3 h4:f2, 13.g1:e5 e5:g3, 14.f2:h4 g3:e5, 15.g5h6!
White make threat to reach on kings row in this position, and Black is compelled to make the move: 15.... g7f6, as White will follow: 16.h4g5 f6:h4, 17.d2c3 h4:f6, 18.h6:f4:d6:f8D f6:d4, 19.f8:g1(see diag.5).
The "weak" column of White ( the white king hold in the column 7 black draughts) is reliably hidden on the square g1 and cannot be attacked by Black.
The second example.
1.c3d4 f6e5, 2.d4:f6 e7:g5, 3.g3f4 f6e5.
White have made tactical man oeuvre: 4.a3b4 e5:g3, 5.f2:f6 g7:e5, 6.g5:c5 b6:h4, 7.b4:f4 f6:d4, 8.h2g3 h4:f2, 9.g1:e3? White may be to played more better: 9.g1:e3.
White supposed this position (see diag.7) as very strong. They have created the column with four draughts on the square f2 and threaten to continue destruction of the position of Black by following moves: 10. f4g5 h6:h2,11. f2:f6 g5:e7,12. b2c3 d4:b2,13. a1:c3 e7:g5,14. f6:h4 etc.
But Black carry out the combination, that it is known in simple draughts also: 9.... d4e3! 10.f2:b6 a7:c5, 11.b6:d4 h6g5, 12.f4:h6 f8g7, 13.h6:f8D
For White there is no capability to free the draughts, that are captured by the black king on the square d8. However Black will destroy the weak white column on the square d4 by the next moves: 16. (b2a3) d6c5, 17.d4:b6 d8:a5 18.b6:d4 g3h2, 19.d4:b6 a5:d8.
In a practical game there can be a cases, that except of the combinations and contrcombinations exists contr-contrcombinations also etc. The availability of a plenty contrcombinations is the relevant advantage of columns draughts and make this game very beautiful and magic.
by Victor Petrov (St. Petersburg)
Victor Petrov (1934 - 1994) was the known master of Russian draughts and one of the first enthusiasts of columns draughts.