Maxims for moves



In Twixt the first move is so very powerful that black is given the option of swapping. To avoid giving black a powerful first move, white should play a very weak move. D-3 and D-22 are good examples. If you play black and your opponent plays a strong move *always* swap as your first move.

mryan asks: If white wanted to make a strong first move, but instead makes a poor move to avoid black taking the move, and thus on blacks first move black goes where white wanted to go, I see black in the strong hole no matter what white does.Would it be better for white to make a medium move and if black took it, white could then make that killer first move, and if black declined the swap, wouldn't white now have a better first move than if he had made a weak move? Please help me understand mryan9810c

That's exactly right, mryan: the first move should be medium: neither too strong, nor too weak. What Steven is alluding to above is the fact that the first move is such a strong advantage, that a good medium move will look very weak to a new player. Thanks to the way ladder chases work out, a move like 1.d3, way off in the corner, turns out to be medium, although it may seem very weak the first time you see it. Even 1.c3 is pretty even-handed. -Alan

The most common defensive strategy is to play directly ahead by 2 pegs or 4 pegs. Beware of playing 3 pegs directly in front of your opponent. It only works well under specific conditions. More than 4 pegs may allow your opponent to setup bridges. Too close and he may go right past you.

Strategy changes as you get farther from the middle. Blocks that work in the middle will not work close to the border. Blocks that work well close to the border, may not work in the middle. The cardinal lines are your guidelines as to when to change strategy. The most basic strategy to keep in mind is to play between your opponent and his border whenever that is feasible.

Playing between your opponent and one of his other pegs is risky, especially if you can't see an absolute block. Always think twice or even thrice about trying this strategy.

Another good strategy is to try to place your line parallel to your own board edge when you can. This gives you multiple points of attack making your opponent work harder to decide where to block.

Finally, try to find a way to create 2 paths to your border. Again this makes it more difficult for your opponent to block.


These guidelines for Twixt moves contributed by Steven Medcalf and reflect the author's personal opinions about Twixt play.

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The following maxims are contributed by Alan Hensel.

A good defense is the best offense. Learn to block. Defensive tactics are important to understand early, because they make it easier to make sense of opening moves. And the person with better opening moves will grab the upper hand early, and end up in a good offensive position. (This is an intentional twist on the typical saying, "a good offense is the best defense". Please don't edit it back! -awh)

Play the whole board. Local battles are very tempting. Resist. Keep your mind on winning the war. The player with better holistic thinking gives himself more choices, and the advantage. When your opponent gives you a narrow alley and a broad alley, don't go down the narrow alley.

Make double threats. This applies from the late opening moves to the end of the game. The winner of the game is often the last person to make a credible double threat. Spread your double threats; a widely separated double threat is the hardest to defend against.

Go left by going right. You can often use a threat of going one way around your opponent, even if it's obviously not going to work, to make it possible to go the other way around. Also called the mousetrap.

Almost sometimes counts. For example, where you see the opportunity to play a beam (0-4), a 1-4 gap is often also worth considering. (On the other hand, sometimes Twixt can be very unforgiving.)

A dashed line is better than a dotted line. A dashed line is often even better than a solid line, especially when forming parallelograms, because it can make the end of the line harder to block.

When winning, simplify. When losing, make chaos. And when playing against an opponent stronger than yourself, take him off the beaten path quickly, if you can, to deprive him of familiar patterns.

Learn to see the best moves quickly. Don't think you can just think harder or spend more time to make up the difference. You're staring down a combinatorial explosion. Someone who is seeing the best 2 moves each time can look 3 moves ahead more easily than someone who is seeing the best 3 moves each time can look 2 moves ahead (2^3 < 3^2). Therefore a good heuristic/intuitive sense of what looks like a good move is very important.

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Forced moves are a very powerful tool in TwixT, if you use them right. One example already mentioned here is the mousetrap, but you can expand this tactic. Every move that forces the opponent to play in a certain area if he doesn't want to lose the game or get a very weak position is considered to be a "forced move" in this text.

The most important thing to gain the maximum profit out of a forced move is timing. Look how the game may develop and decide when to use your ace in the sleeve. Thus it appears, that the order of your moves is very important too.

Warning: be always aware of the consequences of a forced move. For example an often used counter is to place a peg with 4 holes difference towards the opponent's border (means towards your border, if used against you), this makes the path to one side safe and increase the power to the other side. Of course this works only in specific situations and forced moves don't have to be at the border, they can be spread over the whole board.

Here a short forced move guide for intermediate TwixT players:
1. Look for forced moves
2. Look for their consequences (advantage for you or opponent, following forced moves, ...)
3. Decide how / when you want to use them (when you get the most profit, which order, ...)
4. Check if the one you maybe want to play later is still "alive" after your opponent's move
5. Always keep in mind, the opponent could play forced moves too...
6. Forced moves can be very powerful, but remember they are only one of many ingredients of a succesful TwixT tactics mixture.

Forced move example (move 14 and nearly all following moves): little golem game 891661.

These guidelines for Twixt moves are contributed by maraca and reflect the author's personal opinions about Twixt play.

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Some terms related to "forced moves" are "sente" (Go terminology for the concept) and "cascade attack" (making a series of threats against the gaps in your opponent's line, which he can easily close up, in order to set up a real threat.)

Twixt Maxims bear a striking resemblance to Go Proverbs. Here's one that also applies to Twixt:

"Your opponent's good move is your good move. It may often be useful to think about what your opponent would like to play if it was his move. If it is a good thing for your opponent to get something, it is a good thing for you to stop him from getting it. To stop him from playing on a point, you can play there yourself. Note that your move need not always be exactly the same move as he would have played. Rather, it often is a move in the same general area."

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