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Monday, December 10, 2007


This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Part of what makes a good game player is the ability to see patterns, to discern a moment in the game where, if X is done, the opponent will do Y which will lead to the ability to do Z. This applies in any game, but the best example is in chess.

When playing chess, the player who is able to see the game several moves in advance has the advantage. This is not always easy because the opponent is human, and may miss the significance of a particular move, or indeed be seeing a different game.

One particular game of chess I played was building towards a stalemate. My opponent and I had so interlocked our pawn structures that there was no way to break the line without sacrificing several major pieces, and thereby hand the opponent a decisive edge. Looking at the board at one point, my opponent made a move and into my mind flashed an image that if my pieces had been in a particular order when he had made that move, I would win the game. I spent the next couple of moves setting up that configuration and then waited for him to again make that particular move. He did, and from that point, ever subsequent move he made was a "forced move". He had no real choice but to respond to each of my moves in the manner I had "foreseen". That game was the one and only time in my life, out of thousands of games of chess, that I saw the board quite literally eight moves in advance.

But I saw that "pattern" that one time, and seeing that pattern led to victory.

This is not unusual, to see a pattern, but it is something a player needs to think about. In SFB an opponent crabbing in a given direction usually indicates that he has heavily reinforced that shield that is facing you. A plasma ship that launches plasma torpedoes and turns away has very probably launched real plasmas, and not pseudoes (he is trying to open the range to reload his now empty tubes before you catch him). But the veteran plasma player may either be following his real torpedoes in for a close range phaser strike, or following his pseudoes to launch his real torpedoes at close range after dealing with your weasel. Watch your opponent and learn the pattern of his operations. Watch yourself and avoid giving your opponent a pattern to play against.