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Dec 19 13

Exploring Common Beginner Mistakes

by infamouswhiteknight


 

I recently did some work exploring some common beginner mistakes for the website pentolla.com, where I go through a game and single out specific (bad) moves that are common for beginners, explaining what the mistakes are, why they are mistakes, and examples of better moves.  You can take a look at it in one of three ways:

1.  Use this pentobi file: here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/ExploringBeginnerMistakes/BeginnerMistakes.blksgf)

(note that the pentobi file is a little more raw than the other sources, which means you get a bit more info which I didn’t cut, but my explanations may be slightly less clear, and there may be more typos)

2. Check out this cool PDF I created: here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/ExploringBeginnerMistakes/BeginnerMistakes.pdf)

3. View the content on the web through pentolla.com here (link: WILL UPDATE WHEN IT’S POSTED).

Enjoy!

Nov 30 13

Games from BBT6

by infamouswhiteknight

Here are pentobi finals from the BBT6 tournament.  Guiduf won the tournament beating IWK (me) in the finals.  Pentti79 beat norocgogule for 3rd place.

 

Final game 1: IWK vs Guiduf: here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/BBT6/BBT6Final-game1(IWK-vs-gui).blksgf).
Final game 2: Guiduf vs IWK: here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/BBT6/BBT6Final-game2(gui-vs-IWKJ).blksgf).
Little Final game 1: Pentti vs Noroc: here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/BBT6/BBT6SmallFinal-game1(pentti-vs-noroc).blksgf).
Little Final game 2: Noroc vs Pentti: here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/BBT6/BBT6SmallFinal-game2(noroc-vs-pentti).blksgf).

Nov 30 13

Guest Contribution: The Most Important Pieces and the Problem with the Z5 (according to Mike_Yosuke)

by infamouswhiteknight


 

 

When playing Blokus, it’s important to have a sense of the value and importance of the pieces. Some pieces are better for attacking moves, others for defending, some are great for cut-moves, others usually just for kiss moves. If you are able to balance which pieces you use by considering which pieces you will need later as well as the single best piece in a given spot, you will be able to get the maximum value from each of your pieces, not just the ones you use earlier in the game. The following is the list of the 4 most important pieces, in order, according to Mike_Yosuke. All of these pieces are flexible, and can serve multiple purposes when using them, though they have different qualities which make them so important.

4. The N5. This piece has great reach, and the ability to quickly move around an opponent’s corners, often blocking their most advanced corner in the process. At it’s best it quickly circles around the front edge of an opponent’s piece, pushing them back and completely changes the control of of one area of the board. Its length also makes it a great piece for connecting (or the threat of connecting). The N5 can also make great blocks, and has the potential to set up a 1-hole and 2-hole in sequence to defend your space really well. And unlike the L5, the only other piece with the same reach and connection capabilities, the N5 doesn’t have many natural leaks, and can often be played in such a way that it doesn’t leave any leaks at all.

3. The F5. This piece is all about defence, it is the block-master. It contains all of the L4, Z4, and T4 shapes, making it at useful block in many situations, and it is often the perfect piece to set up the blocks (almost always at least 2 blocks in one piece) you need to keep the pressure on your opponent. Even when this piece is used in attacking, its strength comes from being able to prevent counter-attacks at the same time. Add to all this that it has tons of corners and no natural leaks, and it’s clear why this piece makes the top 4.

2. The W5. This piece is the master of flexibility. It has the stairs shape built into it, allowing you to set up un-passable positions quickly, or to create a series of 1-holes in the same move. It also protects you from being forked, and can often end an opponent’s attack in a single play. On the other hand, the W5 is great when attacking as well, being a piece with maximum length, that allows you a quick, strong attack while preventing counter-attacks with ease. Again, this piece has no natural leaks, and creates tons of corners for you. In fact, the strength of the W can easily be missed because it is often used early in the game, but it gets used so often on the first 3 turns precisely because of how strong it is, and when you still have it after that, you can almost always find a great use for it.

1. The Y5. Of the top 4 pieces, this one actually has the biggest natural leak, but in practise that leak is almost never exposed, and the Y is completely safe. Also, it can set up great blocks, has lots of corners and is very powerful in connecting because it can connect while defending itself at the same time. But it’s true power is it’s speed when circling. It can be used as a cut move which can’t be cut-back, or a kiss move which has nearly as much power as a cut because of the easily defend-able corners. At it’s best it can command an entire side of the board by itself. And it is often the best piece for forking an opponent. When you’re using your Y5, you almost always get a great move out of it, but be careful to make sure that you’re really getting maximum value, because you’ve only got one of these per colour!

———-

The problem with the Z5:

Many people might have wanted to put the Z5 on the above list as well, seeing that it has full length, no natural leaks, and seems like it can often set up a series of 2-holes, which can be just as effective as a series of 1-holes. But the problem with the Z5 is that as soon as you use it, the piece you want most is another Z5. It sets up perfect i2 holes on both sides, but the best piece to close them off is already gone – itself! If you’ve played a lot of games, pictures like the ones below probably seem familiar to you, and you may have spent a lot of time thinking about how strong the Z5 can be, and worrying that you just don’t know how to handle it properly. Well, good news, the problem is the Z5, not you!

 

This Blue player probably wants another Z5 to go right where the Green one is…

Z-Problems1

 

 

and this Yellow player could sure go for another Z5 where the Red one is…

Z-Problems2

Jun 6 13

Puzzle 12: Find a hard bonus

by infamouswhiteknight


 

In the following game, Blue and Red have secured a big DCCZ and will win the game.  But is a bonus possible?  The answer is yes, but it is hard to find.

Note: this puzzle is very difficult.

 

The puzzle can be found here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/Puzzles/12FindRedBonus/FindRedBonusProblem.blksgf)

The solution can be found here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/Puzzles/12FindRedBonus/FindRedBonusSolution.blksgf)

See a hint by clicking below.  You should spend some time with the puzzle before reading the hint.

[Show]

Feb 6 13

What’s the Error? A Case Study From FS2013

by infamouswhiteknight


 

On Febuary 5th 2013, a Freestyle game between the 2-time (and currently defending) Freestyle champion, Guiduf, and 2011 Freestyle finalist, Bears34 took place.  Depending on the outcome of the game, one of the players would move on to round 3, and the other would be eliminated from the tournament.  In order for Guiduf to advance, he needed to win by 14 points or more, where Bears34 needed either to win, or to lose by less than 14 to stay alive.

Bears34 was player A, and surprisingly chose W-i4, a connecting opening.  Even more surprisingly, Guiduf chose to play as Yellow/Green leaving Bears34 to make the connection.  The game had many twists, and a number of questionable moves, but the outcome was that Guiduf won by 19 and advanced.  After the game there was a lot of discussion about which move in particular was the biggest error.  At one point Bears played a Blue U that Guiduf responded to with a Yellow i5, killing most of the relevant corners on the Blue U.  Most players, including Bears34 thought that this was the single biggest error of the game, and was ultimately responsible for the outcome, but I maintained that it was not as bad as it seemed, and that Bears could still play well enough to stay in the tournament, or possibly even win the game at that point, but that more damaging moves came shortly after.  To be fair, seeing the Blue U get killed (Guiduffed!) the way it did is definitely tilting, and could certainly have led to compound errors, but strictly in terms of move quality, it was not a tournament-ending blunder.

To that end I have done some analysis using a pentobi file, showing how I think the tournament was still salvageable by Bears34 after the Blue U, and how he could have even won the game if not for a much more damaging error (the Red N).  You can access the file here (link : http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27727822/FS2013/bears34-guiduf-freestyle2013.blksgf)

The conclusion I end up drawing is that the Blue U was probably a mistake, but really only about a 3-point mistake.  Yellow gained a sizeable zone in the bottom right on account of the Blue U, but also lost tempo, as well as some space in the small DCCZ Red shared with Blue.  On the other hand, the Red N two moves later was a big enough mistake to cost the game (and in this case, ultimately the tournament).

Enjoy!

Nov 4 12

Blokus Palooza 2012 Finals

by infamouswhiteknight


 

The Blokus Palooza 2012 finals took place between Mike_Yosuke and ccc33.  Mike won both games, and the tournament.  I have made comments about the games in two separate .blksgf files.

The first game of the finals is here (link: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27727822/Palooza2012/CCCvsMike-game1.blksgf)

The second game of the finals is here (link: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27727822/Palooza2012/MikevsCCC-game2.blksgf)

Aug 11 12

Freestyle 2012 – Final game file

by infamouswhiteknight


 

Freestyle Blokus is a variant where one player first chooses the starting pieces for blue and red, and then the other player decides who will play as blue/red, and who will play as yellow/green.  This style of game eliminates (at least mostly) the advantage of going first, and so a “match” typically consists of only one game, instead of two games.

Each year there is a Freestyle championship held between January and March.  In 2012 the finalists were infamouswhiteknight and guiduf.  infamouswhiteknight chose the pieces for blue/red, and guiduf chose to play as yellow and green.  The game was incredibly close, with guiduf winning by a single point, and it was widely considered to be an example of an exceptionally well played and tight game.

I have included a .blksgf of the game, with some comments, and a few variations to explore some other possible moves.

The game file is here (link: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27727822/FS2012/FS2012.blksgf).

May 18 12

Blokus Community Meeting

by infamouswhiteknight


 

To all members of the Blokus community:

Currently the site has been taken down for reasons that most of you probably at least partially understand.  Many community members have come together to try to act as a single unit, and work to get the website we love back to a usable condition as quickly as possible.  As such, I have sent the following email to Mattel.  I would ask that others refrain from contacting Mattel – overloading them with complaints will not help this problem – in fact it is part of what started the chain of events that led to the current state of the website.  If you would like to support this, please leave a comment in support at the bottom.  If you have specific messages you think Mattel needs to hear, either post it in the blokus.com forums, or let me know, and I will do my best to help make sure Mattel gets the word.

 

To MATTEL,

My name is Eric Hart, I am a blokus fan, and have been a member of the online blokus community for a long time.  Obviously you have been hearing a lot about blokus lately, so I will try to keep this short and try to avoid repeating things that are I get the impression you’ve already heard from a number of other blokus community members.  I really have 3 main purposes of writing this email, so I’ll just jump right in.
First of all, I want to apologize on behalf of the community for the trouble that may have been caused by a few of our members.  I use the term “members” quite generously – as there is nowhere to sign up for this community you essentially become part of it by playing online, and getting to know other people in the community – and as a result we have very little influence over members who behave in a way that most of us feel uncomfortable with.  In particular, while many of us do hope for better communication between our community and Mattel, very few of us agree with the tactics of constant phone calls, and harassment that a few have been trying to employ.  Many people have expressed a desire to make sure Mattel is aware that most members of the Blokus community are quite reasonable people, and are not supporters of the “spam” tactics that are being used by a few.  So here it is: We’re Sorry!
Before I continue, I would like to tell you a little about myself, and my position within the community, to try to give this apology a little more weight and context.  I have been using the blokus.com website since it started way back when it was owned by Sekkoia, more than 10 years ago, but I have been a VERY active participant within the community for the past 6 years.  In that time I have been to two live blokus tournaments in Canada, one of which I organized last year, and another two in Europe.  I will be going to another in Chicago this July.  Further, I run the website blokusstrategy.com, which is frequented by many players within the blokus community as a source of information and contact.  I have also organized and participated in numerous online tournaments during that time.  I know the vast majority of the players online, and speak to many of them regularly, and during the last few weeks, as issues relating to this site seemed to be coming to a head, many of them have talked to me, suggesting that I try to contact you, or someone else who may have some responsibility for what is going on, on behalf of the community as a whole, to try to open a line of communication between the whole community and Mattel.
That leads me to my second reason for contacting you, which is that if you don’t mind, I’d like to make a suggestion for a part of the resolution of the problems that have been going on lately.  I think the single most important thing that can be done to help would be to open a clear line of communication between Mattel and the blokus community.  One of the reasons that I am contacting you is that, from what I understand, you seem to have a bit more control over the website than anyone who has been found by the blokus community in the past.  While Mattel might like to deliberately keep the people in charge of the website hidden, many people within the community have even come to believe that there actually just isn’t anyone “in charge” who can hear our feedback.  While the recent change to the blokus.com website suggests that someone talking to you may have at least kicked something into motion, I have a feeling that you do not want to be a long-term contact for the blokus community, and further, that the current changes are more about stopping the recent calls and complaints Mattel has been receiving than they are about solving the problems that the complaints are about.
If you’d permit me to digress briefly: A little over a year ago I had an idea which I sent to Mattel – I thought that it would be worth while for Mattel to appoint a “Blokus Community Ambassador”, who would be the main go-to person for the community.  At the time I tried to contact Mattel with the intention of applying for such a job, but ultimately nothing came of it.  Regardless, I think that the community has grown to a point where such a position would be warranted, and at the time I even had a number of suggestions for other tasks to be undertaken by that ambassador which could help grow the community, and increase the customer-base for Mattel.
This “Blokus Community Ambassador” would have been exactly what I suggested above – a line of communication between Mattel and the blokus community.  While this may seem like a small problem on Mattel’s end, it certainly means a lot to the community, and having a contact on staff at Mattel would, in my opinion, either entirely solve the recent problems, or at least go a long way towards solving them, while keeping the community happy and keep them spreading the good word about Blokus and Mattel.
My final reason is a simple request on behalf of me, and a large number of others who have contacted me within the last couple of hours: please keep the site running while the changes are being made.  Technically speaking this is not difficult, and although Mattel must not be happy with the way things have been going for the past few weeks, the majority of the site users find blokus.com eminently usable (while not perfect), and far better to be left online than to be taken down indefinitely.
Hopefully you’re in a position where you can take these ideas seriously, and I hope they come to fruition, but thanks for at least taking the time to read my letter.  If you’d like to ask my any more questions about this idea, or the blokus community, I would love to answer them, or have a discussion some time.  And thanks again to Mattel for keeping the (free) website running for as long as it has – the whole community is thankful for that.
Sincerely,
-Eric Hart
May 2 12

Puzzle 11: Secure a DCCZ

by infamouswhiteknight


 

In this puzzle, the goal is to play the best blue move (just one) on the current turn to secure a huge zone for blue (and ultimately red as well) on the top.  As well as playing the move, you should make sure you understand WHY the move is very good.  Ultimately I will post the solution as well as a separate file with an explanation about why the move is effective, exploring a few lines of play .

 

The pentobi file with the problem is here (link: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27727822/Puzzles/11SecureADCCZ/SecureADCCZ-Problem.blksgf).

The pentobi file with just the next move (the solution) is here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/Puzzles/11SecureADCCZ/SecureADCCZ-Solution.blksgf).

I also created a pentobi file where I explain the solution, and play out two lines from there, which can be found here (link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27727822/Puzzles/11SecureADCCZ/SecureADCCZ-Solution-Explanation.blksgf)

There are two hints hidden below, click (separately) to see them:

[Show hint 1]

[Show hint 2]

Mar 26 12

Puzzle 10: Two Colour Optimization

by infamouswhiteknight


 

 

Thanks to Toby for submitting this puzzle.  The goal is to get the best total score for blue and red combined.

The problem is here (link:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27727822/Puzzles/10TwoColourOptimization/twocolouroptimization-problem.blksgf)

The solution is here (link:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/27727822/Puzzles/10TwoColourOptimization/twocolouroptimization-solution.blksgf)

The best score is hidden below.  If you wish to see the score, click on the Show button.

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