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Friday, January 27, 2017

Tak Training Guide

Here is a roadmap to get you started on your way to Tak fame and fortune:
  • Watch James Ernest's Introduction Video.
  • Read the Rules.
  • Companion Book- buy the ebook if not the physical copy (either one supports Cheap Ass Games).
  • Join r/tak for the community, advice, and inspiration.
  • Join USTA to stay current on tournament goings on as well as discussions of Tak ettiquette, rule balancing, volunteer opportunities, Tak club resources, and much more.
  • Watch my tutorial for using
  • On, start with Beginner Bot to get the idea of the game mechanics.
  • Subscribe to Tak Strategy YouTube channel to watch good matches and hear commentary.
  • Learn PTN.
  • Read blogs to learn more strategy and taktics (in no particular order): mine, Turing's, nqueron's, Tayacan's, NoHatCoder's.
  • On, work through FriendlyBot levels 2-5 and play as many human games as you can, especially with those ranked in the top 50.
  • Learn how to lose with grace and learn something from each game.
  • Try playing ShlktBot. Do NOT learn opening strategies from this bot, but appreciate how well it plays from the mid-game on.
  • Play more humans to learn current conventions on moves and strategies (and for fun, of course!)
  • Build your own Tak set. The Tak Subreddit has many builds you can mimic, or you can create your own design.
  • Continue reading and re-reading blogs.
  • Solve puzzles as they appear on r/tak.
  • Contribute to r/tak if you are not already doing so:  make puzzles, ask questions, come up with something new, and in general enjoy this awesome budding community.
  • Start a Tak club at your local school, pub, workplace, library, etc. -- teach others to play and love Tak.
  • Review each game after you play it. Try using ptn ninja to notate it if you have the time and inclination.
  • Most of your games to this point will have probably been 5x5. So, try playing IntuitionBot to get the basic idea of 6x6. The strategies and feel of the game are appreciably different. Experienced players can also guide you through some 6s strategies.
  • Level up to FriendlyBot 6-9
  • Continue to play human players of all levels. Try teaching some newbies. You can learn a lot just by teaching to others.
  • Participate in tournaments (online and in person) to experience that aspect of Tak. Everyone needs some eustress in their lives.
  • Spread the work of Tak far and wide.
  • On, go up against Takkerus/TakticianBot/FriendlyBot 10-14 -- learn how they make you lose and fold some of those taktics into your own game. Don't feel bad if you lose, because you will lose...a lot. Remember, these bots are looking 5-10(?) moves into the future and they don't miss Tak threats...the only way to beat them is to play your best.
  • Find your niche in the Tak community and begin analyzing your personal Tak style.
  • Begin winning some games against FriendlyBot 10-11
  • Continue losing to Takkerus and TakticianBot, but begin to lose more on flat count and less on Tinue/missed threats.
  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
I can't give much advice beyond this point, since this is where I currently reside. But, I plan to update this blog as I progress.  One day we will have Grand Masters to interview and advise us as well! 

Puzzle #2 - How does black get out of this?

At first glance, this looks like Tinue. But, black can weasel his way out. How?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Puzzle #1 - white to play, Tinue in 7 moves

This is the end of a game that I misplayed a couple days ago. Lack of attention on my part and a time crunch at the end of lunch lead to a loss. So, I went back to review it later and saw that I had Road to Tinue. Enjoy the puzzle!

Monday, January 16, 2017 Tutorial

Youtube link

A good overview of the Playtak program with tips and tricks for new users.

Enjoy and give feedback!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Open Comment Game #2

Open Comment Game #2 (youtube link)

fwwwwibib vs LuKAs


This is just raw footage. It is complete with technical difficulties, unscripted mumbling, and no frills.
Maybe it will be a collector item one day as we all become famous :)

Future videos will be more polished as I slowly learn the limits of my system.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Tak Emblem

Above is my emblem for Tak. I came up with it while designing my newest Tak board. If the winter is cold enough (read: I have enough time by the fire) I plan to burn this into each white stone and inlay copper wire into each black piece. Ambitious much?

The emblem came about while breaking in my new fountain pen and handwriting some Tak theories (read: my wife and kids were out of town and...I'm a nerd). It started out as the "T" in Tak and then evolved into a kind of personal logo for the game.

Others may see additional things in the symbol...but, to me:

It represents the building and interrupting of roads. I view it as ambiguous; either the "/" line is a road that is interrupted by the "~" (maybe by a stack spread), or the "/" are walls/flats ready to sever the "~" road.

It shows that different styles all have a place in the Tak universe. From direct to circuitous, angular to fluid, experimental vs tried and true.

I also see it as a reminder and a warning. The "~" is the wind finding cracks in...well, everything. So, no matter how good I get, my strategies and human nature will always have chinks in them. Likewise, no matter how good my opponent is, their strategies suffer the same fate and I always have a chance.

But, whatever else you see in the symbol, hopefully you find it to be simple yet elegant and beautiful, just like Tak.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

He's dead, Jim.

 The promise of the future is a powerful thing. It can keep you pushing through hard times, bolstering your morale; because, just over the horizon is a better world where things will all settle into place and your hard work will be justly rewarded.

But, my post today is not a cheery exposition on the promise of the future. I'm here today to crush your dreams. Not the ones about moving into the woods to build a yurt and sustainable farm...those are perfectly valid :) The dreams of yours I plan on burying under a mound of cold reality are the ones involving that East/West road you continue to pour your heart and soul into...even though your opponent has 2 nobles hindering your progress and has managed to gain a stranglehold on the Western edge of the board.

I understand that these dreams and the promise of the future are hard to give up. I struggle with "letting go" myself. When you place your stones on the board to bring to life your schemes, you are investing a part of yourself into the game and are optimistic about the outcome. This is only natural as they are your plans; your ideas, your actions, attempting to reach their full potential and earn you a pile of just desserts.

So, the key is to fight back against the promise of the future with some guidelines to keep your optimism from losing you the game.

My wet blanket for your dreams:

    1. Give up and change taktics on a road if your opponent has >1 noble that can easily cut your road in twain.
    2. Chin up and move on if your opponent drops your tempo by 2 or more.
    3. Take a deep breath and find a new strategy if your opponent has gained a stranglehold on an edge you need to complete your road.
    4. Sigh and scrap your current project if your opponent makes a +3 (or greater) flat count differential move.
    5. Grumble and accept it if you need to scrap your road threat to stop a road to Tinue threat from your opponent.

    The above are just guidelines. Each specific game has instances where it is worth the risk to trudge onward towards your goal even with all the obstacles.

    Being flexible in your schemes (especially developing bidirectionally or playing offense/defense simultaneously) will be of much more benefit to your gameplay than continuing to beat a dead horse.

    And here is another tidbit along the same lines to take to heart:  Unless you are playing a bumbling newbie or a buggy bot, your initial road will go nowhere. So, stop taking it so badly when that first foray onto the board gets stopped cold. Just take out your thesaurus, find some synonyms for perseverance, and persevere!