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FIDCHELL: GAME ONE


RULES


This is not Fidchell proper, but is the game most players prefer, as it is simpler to get to grips with, faster moving and generally over in around half an hour. Along the way it teaches most of the manoeuvres required for Game Two, which is best left until curiosity suggests trying a variation.

The object for both sides is to create a continuous (not necessarily straight) line of their own stones linking the centre of the board to the outer circle.

The first to succeed is the winner.



- 1 -
The King or Navel Stone (the one larger than the rest) is first placed in the centre of the board, where it remains throughout the game. It is dead to begin with and can be ignored until players start moving their pieces on the board.

- 2 -
Either White (in the first instance) or the loser of the previous game goes first, players taking turns to place one stone at a time into vacant spaces. Each player starts with 27 stones or 'men'.

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                                - 3 -
An enemy piece is captured by trapping it between two of your own. That is, by making a pair immediately next to, and on opposite sides of a single stone, as indicated by the lines on the board.

- 4 -
Capturing an enemy's piece grants you another turn. This can be repeated any number of times. Capturing more than one piece in one move, however, just grants you one more turn. Captured stones go out of play till the game's end.

- 5 -
An empty space between two enemy pieces already on the board may be entered without harm, but you become vulnerable if one of those pieces is moved.

- 6 -
When you run out of stones to place down, those on the board become free to move along any one line till they meet an obstruction (i.e. no turning onto other lines and no jumping over other pieces). Capture still entitles you to another move and all other rules remain in force, plus a new one that comes next:

- 7 -
When either player starts to move their pieces, the King stone becomes alive to both of them as a friend, and can be used to capture opposing men.





TACTICS


Whoever goes first in this game begins with a slight edge of advantage, so the other player's priority is to frustrate the creation of their line. But it is not enough just to block them, attacks must be tied in with the creation of your own line. The way to seize or hold onto the initiative is to force your opponent to concentrate more on your plan than their own. For this a bluff often works as well as any real stratagem.

Below are shown two configurations useful for creating no-go areas for the opposition. That is, groups of empty spaces which they cannot enter without immediately being taken.

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In configuration a) the only time your opponent can enter either of the empty spaces without being taken is in the final, winning move of the game. When doubled up along one of the quarter-lines, this arrangement can secure a straight path to the circumference with only three stones. Filling the gaps does present problems, however, particularly when your opponent sets up the same configuration at right angles across it.

Configuration b) is far stronger when planted in an otherwise clear sector. In general the best way to counter it is by not giving your opponent time to fill the gaps.

The innermost ring can present a problem if one player manages to set up the arrangement shown below, because their opponent cannot enter either empty space without being taken. In effect, configuration c) is configuration a) bent into a ring. But, you can enter either space if it completes a line to the circumference. For this reason it can even be a useful gambit - letting your opponent secure the inner circle puts you one step ahead in securing the outer circles, but unless you know what you are doing it is safest to put one of your pieces in that ring as soon as your opponent does.

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An example of a win by White. It doesn't matter how convoluted a winning line is, so long as it is continuous. In this game Black has managed to create quite a strong line of its own, but failed in the end to seize the initiative.

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By entering the arrowed space Black takes three White pieces in one go, but only gains one fresh turn.

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Here is shown a useful way Black can deflect White's advance to the edge.



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