There are two players, Black and White. The board is a 12x12 square the four corners of which are omitted from play. There are 10 white and 10 black checkers.
The initial position: the 'Marquisian Method'
The Marquisian Method to balance a game is named after a 19th century French Draughts player who made money by offering opponents a similar choice in a particularly nasty endgame of which he knew every nook and cranny, and betting on the outcome.
The main characteristic of the method is that it allows the player who makes the initial position, to present an in-deep studied piece of homework. It is therefore not a true balancing method, yet it takes that form in games between less experienced players.
In the case of more experienced players, the fun for Player Two is to figure out the nasty tricks his opponent has woven into the position, and try to let him fall into his own traps.
The initial set-up is totally up to Player One. The restriction is that a checker may not be placed on a row or column that already holds a like colored checker. Once the initial position has been completed, Player Two has a choice, he can:
- move first, in which case his opponent decides on color, or
- choose a color, in which case his opponent moves first.
The movement phase
The diagram shows a possible position at the end of the placement phase. Player Two now decides whether or not to start the movement phase. Players in turn move one piece. Moving is not compulsory: a player may pass without losing the right to move on his next turn.
In the game black stacks and white stacks arise, but no mixed stacks. Men and stacks are called 'pieces'. Pieces may never move over other pieces, regardless of color. Pieces may not land on opposing pieces. Pieces may land on pieces of like color, forming stacks. Stacks may move as a whole or as any top part (according to its height), leaving the bottom part behind.
- Single men move diagonally.
- Doubles move orthogonally.
- Triples move both orthogonally and diagonally.
- Pieces higher than three may not move.
Be the first to make a stack of 10. If neither player can succeed, the game is a draw.
Because stacks may split, an immobile stack will always have mobile top parts. If a player creates a stack of four or more though, that's likely the intended square to build his stack of ten on. Having to break it down by moving a top part is not the most efficient way to do it.
For maximum flexibility, 3-3-2-2 or 3-3-3-1 appear to be the best sets to fix a square and stack as final destination. Of course one should not end with a single on the wrong diagonal subgrid.
A single on the edge can be easily blocked, so don't put one there lightly. If it occurs, the way to liberate it is to move a double onto it and leave with a triple. A double blocked on the side can also leave diagonally in two steps as two singles. There are several liberation tactics, but they are time consuming. Better avoid singles on the edges whenever possible.
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