You know that bruise that you have in the center of your forehead? No, not that one; that one is from walking into a pole while playing Tak on your phone. I'm talking about the one that seems to be exactly the size of the heel of your hand. Yep, The Bruise of Stupid Mistakes. It's a painful one that mirrors the bruise to your confidence every time you slap your forehead and go DUH! after forgetting something simple.
So, to help reduce the occurrence of these during your Tak games, I have assembled a list of things to check before each turn in a game. Please add to the list if you have something. (I'm a very list-y person and would appreciate it very much. (With enough lists (and parentheses(apparently)), I will take over the world!))
- a) Check your time remaining and recall your time increment for the game. This will determine how much time you can spend on each list item.
- b) Check your opponent's time. If there is little time remaining and a small enough increment, you may be able to speed up your analysis in order to run their time down more. Remember, they are getting to analyze the game while your time is running.
- Check/count pieces remaining for each player. I usually check them until they drop below 8-10, then I begin counting. If you have 1 piece remaining, it may be pointless for you to go through the rest of this list.
- Count flats for each player. Try to plan your next move with flat count in mind.
- Check for 'Tak'. A LOT of games are lost because a 'Tak' was missed. When I say check for 'Tak', I don't just mean your opponent's threats. Check and see if he/she missed one of your own threats. As a side note: Capstones still count as road pieces.
- Check tempo. If you have control of it, what plays can you make to keep it or make it more robust? If you don't have it, would a flat capture or a wall/capstone placement/capture be more useful to reduce your opponent's tempo. Is there a move that can be made to reduce his/her tempo as well as making a threat of your own?
- Check for board fill. You can become so involved in your own schemes, that you accidentally end the game earlier than intended (or give your opponent the opportunity to end it on their terms).
- Check stacks. This includes single capture stacks. Check for: who has control of the stack, carrying capacity, reach, hardness vs. softness, obstacles (capstones/walls that are in line with stacks), FPFCD, etc.
- Look for Roads to Tinue (for you and your opponent). Tinue patterns are many and varied and nothing but hard study and experience can make you a master of them (which I am not). Dove had started a collection of games ending in Tinue, but with the quantity of games played, I'm not sure how up to date it is.
I'm trying to make this list a habitual game tactic of mine in hopes that it improves my game. So, I made a mnemonic to help remember: The Fox Prances To The Barn, Smelling Turkey.
I'm upping my game; so, up yours! Wait, that didn't come out quite right. Oh well, I'm leaving it.
Now, follow my list and we can all watch as those bruises fade through the rainbow and finally disappear! (except for those of us who play AaaarghBot...we need to come up with an AaaarghBot helmet)