Strategy Breakthrough

22 replies. Last post: 2012-05-22

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  • johnxcrowe at 2007-04-29

    Is there any sort of strategy that anyone has developed yet? I just don’t know where to start when I’m playing. I quick google search reveals few relevant results.

  • MRFvR at 2007-05-02

    I have now strategical ideas whatsoever... I just play a ‘scheme’ in the opening, hoping for survival and to play some tatics...

  • FatPhil at 2007-05-23

    I too don’t really know what I’m doing.
    I know a few things to avoid, so I avoid those, and games seem to have gone OK just using that.

  • brunbrun at 2007-05-24

    I can see too major strategy :
    -an offensive one : try to force a space in the opponent pieces
    -a defensive one : force exchange in my half of the board and wait the opponent make a space in his defense by lack of piece.

    most of the good player are offensive one’s, and for long I was the only defensive player in the top ten (but now i am the only defensive player in the top eleven)

  • powerrade at 2008-11-10

    moze ktos w skrocie powiedziec o co chodzi w tej grze ?

  • hammurabi at 2009-03-05

    Here’s a good defensive strategy. Keep four back rank rooks on the b,c,f,g files unless absolutely necessary. This will keep the back rank defended, and prevent your opponent from automatically winning if he slips one rook past. Now your opponent will have to get two rooks through to win, and believe me, that is a lot harder to do, and it takes a long time to do. Breakthrough often comes down to a race to the back rank, and the further back your last line of defense is, the longer it will take your opponent to get two rooks down the board.

  • hammurabi at 2009-03-05

    Another tip – whenever one of your opponent’s pieces attack one of yours, capture it if it is on your side of the board, and otherwise just defend your own. When you trade rooks, you want to exchange rooks that haven’t moved much for your opponents rooks that have already far forward – this will give you the advantage since your pieces will be slightly further ahead on average. Similarly, try not to cross the middle point with a rook unless you can adequately support it, and establish it permanently. If you move to the 5th rank, and can defend every time your opponent attacks your rook, it is usually right to do so, since your far advanced outpost will give you combinational possibilities later in the game, and every exchange will only cost you 1 tempo. However, if you can’t support it enough, your opponent will force you to trade it off, and when you capture something with a rook on your 5th rank, and your opponent recaptures with a rook from his 2nd rank, you lose a LOT of time (3 tempi). That said, ideally you want to set up a rook on the 6th rank that can never be challenged, and ties up 2 or 3 of your opponent’s rooks to defend it from breaking through, e.g. if you have a rook on a6, and your opponent has rooks on b8 and c8 (but no rook on a8, a7, b7), then the b8 and c8 rooks are ‘frozen’, if either one moves, your a6 rook will go through. You can essentially play the game as if these three rooks don’t exist, and that gives you a material advantage! Central rooks on the 6th rank can sometimes tie up three back rank rooks if the configuration is right, and the rooks can’t be challenged, although a,h file rook tie-ups are a lot easier to accomplish.

  • halladba at 2009-03-05

    Thanks a lot for making clear what I had glimpsed ! And I did not realise that it was good indeed to have a supported piece on 5th or 6th row.

  • wccanard at 2009-03-05

    This site rocks. Random gold nuggets appear when you least expect them.

  • Ed Collins at 2009-03-05


    I don’t play much Breakthrough, but all of those tips DO sound like gold!

    Since hammurabi has only lost twice, I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about!

  • bennok at 2009-07-20

    Hammurabi’s advices are exactly the considerations I figured while playing here (and losing some games).

    The defensive back rank seems to be well adopted among strong players. Often, in an even more defensive form: the rooks/pieces on the d and e files are left untouched as long as possible, this way even 2 opponents pieces can be stopped.

    I would also add a fairly simple advice: try to keep as many pieces on the white fields as on the black ones. (I know it’s a bit difficult, LG only shows boring “beige” fields! Just imagine the Breakthrough board as a chessboard – which it should be, don’t you agree?).

    Evidently, if most of your pieces are on black fields, your opponent will easily find a path through your pieces using the white ones. Changing the color of a piece back to white is not always possible and forces you to advance it.

    I would like a real chessboard as an option like the optional twixt board. So if Richard is listening....

  • Ricardo (Santos) ★ at 2009-09-09

    while lost in space... these were very very nice explanations/analysis... thanks a lot for the tips, now the game becomes more interesting :)

  • hammurabi at 2009-09-20

    One other thing that I should mention – in breakthrough it is CRITICAL to use concrete calculations at the right moment. In the opening, calculation isn’t very important, and even when a few exchanges are made, you don’t really need to calculate much because breakthroughs are nearly impossible when the back ranks are thickly defended. However, there comes a point in the game where all of a sudden, both sides have forced breakthrough possibilities and the one that breaks through first wins. The key to winning at breakthrough is to recognize the moment where concrete calculations become relevant, and to analyze the game through to the end hopefully while your opponent is still moving on ‘general principles’, and is not looking for forceful sacrifices and not paying attention to move orders. Even if your opponent is winning, a careless move can waste a critical tempo, and that is usually enough to reverse the outcome! If you are going to analyze at all, it has to be right through to the end of the game, because going for the breakthrough almost always leaves fatal weaknesses in your own camp, and you have to figure out who is going to break through first. I suggest sitting down with a chessboard when the position seems to be critical, and trying to look for a win. If it looks like your opponent is in fact winning, look harder. Even if you don’t find a win, you might be able to find a tricky line that requires some subtlety for your opponent to navigate safely. If you are having trouble analyzing concrete variations then pack the chessboard up – you probably aren’t at that critical moment yet.

  • David J Bush at 2010-02-02

    hammurabi, have you ever seen a zugzwang position in Breakthrough? That’s a position where the obligation to move is a disadvantage. Or does one side or the other always have a way to improve their position? Any true zugzwang is mutual, meaning if the player to move has no good move but the other side does, that’s called squeeze not zugzwang. Is it possible that the initial position is zugzwang?

  • Marius Halsor at 2010-02-02

    Let’s say both players have two defending, adjecent stones on the back row, and one attacking stone two places away from the opponents defending stones. Then I think whoever has to move will lose. Move your attacking stone, and it is captured. Move one of your defending stones, and the opponent will break through.

    In fact, it can be made even simpler: One player has two stones on his back row, and the opponent has one stone two places away. If the defender has to move, the attacker breaks through, and of the attacker has to move, his last stone is captured.

  • ypercube ★ at 2010-02-03

    Another zugzwang position: White two stones (at e3, e4) and Black two stones (at e5, e6).

  • David J Bush at 2010-02-03

    Thanks for the examples. Could the initial position be zugzwang?

  • kingofthebesI at 2010-02-05

    If the game is won for the second player sure the start could be zugwang, but I doubt it is. This doubt is based on instinct not experience, but I don’t see an extra move not being of benefit.

  • halladba at 2010-02-05

    If I remember well, such a topic was already discussed in the forum earlier. I think breakthrough was solved on a smaller board (not that small actually) and the second player had a winning strategy. Unfortunately I’m unable to recall the size used.

    What does the stats between top players say on breakthroug 8x8?

  • Ray Garrison ★ at 2010-02-05

    I feel that white has the advantage in 8x8 breakthrough as white has the initiative from the start.

  • Christian K at 2012-05-22

    I think second playe has a winning strategy on a map that is 3 wide and 7 deep where each player occupy the two back rows with pieces. Here, however, it would also seem that white has the initiative. Since there is no strategy stealing argument, it is hard to do a proof.

  • halladba at 2012-05-22

    If I remember correctly, and to the best of my knowledge, the second player has a winning strategy on all solved board sizes so far (wider > 2 and deeper > 3). This includes 3x4..3x7, 4x4, 4x5, 5x4, 5x5, 6x4, and 6x5.

    As a player, I believe that 8x8 is a second player win but for imperfect players like us it’s easier to play well as first player than to play well as second player.

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