Arimaa/Omar vs. Fritzlein, 2005 Postal Championship

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This game was played over four months, and ultimately preserved Fritzlein's perfect record in the 2005 Arimaa Postal Championship. Had Omar won this game, he would have tied Fritzlein for first with a 9–1 record. The ultra-slow speed allowed this game to be highly tactical; long-term strategy was still important, but the players had time to work through various sequences and weigh moves that would be risky in a live game.

The gameplay reflects the understanding of Arimaa in 2005. Players later became less keen to drag enemy pieces homeward, as trap attacks proved effective against overly home-oriented play.

Game

  • 1g: Omar uses a variation of the 99of9 setup, placing dogs behind his traps. Since a dog cannot be pushed aside by an enemy dog, this alignment limits the ways in which a trap can be attacked, and may even make a dog frame more feasible. A dog might later advance through a trap and be replaced by a rabbit or cat.
  • 1s: Fritzlein chooses the classic 99of9 setup, with cats behind the traps and dogs back and center. While this leaves his home traps slightly more vulnerable than Omar's, it would also be slightly less costly for Fritzlein to abandon a home trap, as the piece behind the trap is usually the first to go when the opponent takes over.
  • 2g: Omar aggressively advances his elephant four squares, threatening to capture a cat or flip the camel.
  • 2s: If Fritzlein now advanced his own elephant four squares, he would concede a cat but also threaten a dog. Any such capture would use all four steps and create further threats, so this could begin a race with an unclear outcome; Fritzlein would initially capture a dog for a cat, but Omar might still have a first-move advantage. Declining such a race, Fritzlein defends both home traps and shields his camel.
  • 3g: Omar's elephant can't do much where it is now, and could get smothered if it advanced further. Omar thus steps his elephant back a square, and uses his other three steps to develop at home. It would have been faster for Omar just to advance his elephant three squares and a horse one square on 2g; this later became the most popular opening move for Gold, with the horse advance usually occurring on the side where the elephant advanced.
  • 3s: Fritzlein advances his elephant, stepping it east to face Omar's camel. To defend the c6 trap, Fritzlein advances his western horse to b6.
  • 4g: Omar drags Fritzlein's eastern horse towards the f3 trap. While Fritzlein can easily defend it from capture, Omar hopes to build a strategic advantage.
  • 4s: Fritzlein decides to free his horse before it can be taken hostage. Fritzlein uses his elephant to unfreeze the horse; he could have advanced the h7 rabbit to h5 and unfrozen the horse that way, but the rabbit would have then been exposed. Another option was to step the g7 cat forward, but Fritzlein preferred to return his horse to g6, which could not have immediately happened had the cat been on that square.
  • 5g: Omar moves his horse away from Fritzlein's elephant. So far the opening has been defensive, with non-elephant pieces retreating from threats.
  • 5s: Fritzlein further decentralizes his elephant to pull a rabbit on the h-file. Later Arimaa theory would frown on this, but in a defensive game it may have seemed logical, as a rabbit cannot retreat homeward. Fritzlein could have instead used his elephant to push Omar's e3 horse to d3, thus placing both of Omar's horses in the west, where Fritzlein's camel could have then gone to face them. With no horse in the east, Omar could have been vulnerable there also, and Fritzlein might have gotten strong threats on both wings. Such long-term planning may be more effective than rabbit pulling.
  • 6g: Omar moves his elephant west to make a bigger threat. Fritzlein can hardly continue hunting an eastern rabbit when his western horse and potentially the c6 trap are in jeopardy.
  • 6s: Rather than moving his western horse and thus immediately opening up b6, Fritzlein centralizes his elephant and threatens to flip Omar's e3 horse.
  • 7g: To centralize his own elephant, Omar pulls the b6 horse twice rather than flipping it. Omar could have pulled the horse to b4 where it would have been harder to rescue, but preferred to have his elephant as centralized as possible, so as to limit Fritzlein's progress in the east.
  • 7s: Fritzlein's elephant gets its horse to safety. Continued pull-and-retreat play would slightly favor Fritzlein, since Omar has a rabbit exposed on h4.
  • 8g: In a somewhat more aggressive move, Omar advances a horse to a6. This horse may pull a rabbit, but also threatens to take b6 in a potential trap attack. Note that the horse advanced on the wing away from the enemy camel.
  • 8s: Fritzlein could try to bring his camel across to take the a6 horse hostage, but Omar's elephant will not make that easy. Fritzlein could simply take the horse hostage with his elephant, but there is a big difference between a horse-by-elephant hostage and a horse-by-camel hostage. Threatening a mere horse usually does not justify keeping one's elephant in a corner.

    Rather than immediately taking a weak hostage, Fritzlein drags the h4 rabbit further forward, seeing that as a better first threat which might in turn allow for an effective western threat.

  • 9g: Omar could use his horse to pull out Fritzlein's a8 rabbit, but a rabbit-pulling race would not favor Omar at this point. A more forceful option would be an elephant–horse attack on the c6 trap, which Fritzlein's elephant might have to defend against. The threat would be slow to develop, however, and might not make up for a rabbit lost in the meantime.

    Omar instead advances his camel in the east, perhaps intending to use his pulled rabbit to his advantage. An advanced camel is often at risk of being taken hostage, but a supporting flank piece can make this less likely. Omar also advances a cat to d3, to give the c3 trap a second defender.

  • 9s: Fritzlein moves his elephant east to keep Omar's camel under control. Whatever else is going on, an elephant must keep a constant eye on the enemy camel. Fritzlein also drags the rabbit to h6, now threatening it with one-turn capture and thus perhaps staying ahead of any threat by Omar.
  • 10g: Omar defends the f6 trap to save his rabbit, placing his elephant on e6 rather than f5. From e6 Omar's elephant exerts influence on the c6 trap as well, and limits Fritzlein in the center.
  • 10s: Unable to capture anything in f6 as long as Omar's elephant defends, Fritzlein moves his camel west to threaten Omar's advanced horse in c6. To maintain his own defense of f6, Fritzlein places a cat behind it and steps his elephant another square east.
  • 11g: Omar's horse retreats empty-handed, but his camel advances undaunted, creating an immediate capture threat in f6. With a friendly rabbit on h6, the camel can neither be frozen in place nor taken hostage on h6. No matter how things work out for Fritzlein here, this shows how an early rabbit pull might backfire.
  • 11s: Fritzlein defends f6, and clears room in his back ranks to push Omar's camel to g7, where it could be kept frozen and thus held hostage. Fritzlein's camel inches west, stopping on d6. With Omar's elephant on e6, this does jeopardize Fritzlein's camel, but only if Omar's elephant abandons the f6 trap, where Fritzlein could then capture Omar's camel and rabbit.
  • 12g: Omar would have liked to use his camel to pull the f8 rabbit to f7 or the g8 rabbit to g7, because either move would have deprived Fritzlein of a square on which to hold the camel hostage. Unfortunately, either pull would require all four steps, leaving the a5 horse to be taken hostage by Fritzlein's camel. If Omar retreated his camel, his rabbit could be threatened in the east and his horse threatened in the west. Omar thus retreats his exposed horse and steps his camel onto f6, conceding the camel hostage but making it trickier for Fritzlein to set up.
  • 12s: Fritzlein secures the camel as a hostage, albeit in a temporarily very awkward position. Before leaving one's elephant on a trap square, one must double- and triple-check that it is safe; since this was a postal game, Fritzlein had plenty of time for that.

    Fritzlein steps his camel west, no longer offering an immediate trade.

  • 13g: With d6 now empty, Omar has room to flip Fritzlein's cat to e5. For Omar, capturing a cat might compensate for the disadvantage of having his camel held hostage. The position of each elephant is critical. If Omar's elephant moved to f5 and then Fritzlein's elephant moved to the e-file while pulling Omar's camel along, the camel might get forked and then captured outright.
  • 13s: If the camel hostage were fully established, Fritzlein's eastern horse could now defend f3, preventing any capture therein until Omar's elephant left the northeast and thus gave up its camel. Not yet having the proper hostage-holding position, however, Fritzlein has no time to save his cat.
  • 14g, 14s, 15g: Omar captures the cat, and Fritzlein improves his hostage position. While a camel hostage is generally considered to be worth a cat or less, Fritzlein also holds a rabbit hostage, perhaps tipping the scales in his favor if he optimizes his free pieces. Omar would now like to swarm f6 and rotate his elephant out of hostage defense, or capture a second piece while his elephant continues to defend the hostage.
  • 15s: Fritzlein must move his eastern horse, which could otherwise be flipped to f4 and threatened with two-step capture. Fritzlein advances the horse, but leaves it on a bad square.
  • 16g: Omar abandons his hostaged camel to capture this horse. While a camel hostage-holder often does end up trading a horse for the camel, it is best not to make this too easy for the opponent, especially if he is currently ahead in material. Fritzlein could have moved that horse to the h-file and advanced his other horse in the west. Alternatively, he could have advanced his eastern horse to g2, in effect defending f3 without exposing the horse to one-turn capture.
  • 16s: Fritzlein will capture the camel; the only question is whether to end the move with his elephant on e6, f5, or g6. Had Omar been forced to spend multiple turns on the horse capture, Fritzlein could flip the camel into the trap and then capture the rabbit as well. Since Omar's elephant can again defend f6, however, Fritzlein must not keep his elephant in a corner on account of a rabbit. Fritzlein chooses f5 over e6, perhaps wanting to protect the eastern flank.

    Omar is now out a camel, but Fritzlein is out a horse and a cat. While this is close to even, tit-for-tat play will now tend to favor Omar, and thus Fritzlein must play to get ahead.

  • 17g: Since Fritzlein's elephant chose f5, Omar's elephant takes e6. Eyeing an elephant-horse attack against f6, Omar steps a horse east.
  • 17s: Fritzlein threatens the h6 rabbit, which Omar will likely lose if he abandons the f6 trap.
  • 18g: Omar advances his eastern horse and a dog behind it, preparing to take the g6 square. It would now be pointless for Fritzlein to flip the h6 rabbit into the trap, as the frame would immediately be broken.
  • 18s: Fritzlein moves his camel east, hoping to limit Omar's progress there. Fritzlein could have instead counterattacked in the west, where his camel would have been the strongest piece as long as Omar's elephant stayed in the east. Fritzlein may have feared that such a strategy would lead to a material exchange which would benefit Omar, or a western deadlock which would leave Omar strong in the east.
  • 19g: Omar proceeds with an elephant–horse attack on f6, advancing a dog to keep the horse mobile. Once again, the h6 rabbit complicates a potential hostage for Fritzlein.
  • 19s: Fritzlein's camel moves to take Omar's advanced horse hostage on g7; this would be a double-hostage, as the h6 rabbit would also be threatened.
  • 20g: Omar moves his elephant to f7, pushing Fritzlein's camel west. The camel could still reach g6 on the next turn, but could not take the horse hostage, as g7 is now blocked and the horse would not be frozen on g5. In decentralizing his elephant, however, Omar risks a blockade and gives away time.
  • 20s: Fritzlein blockades f6, setting the stage for a full elephant smother if Omar's elephant doesn't move west.
  • 21g: Omar retreats his horse, abandoning the attack on f6 but also freeing his elephant to move with no risk to the horse. It would have been faster simply to retreat the horse on 20g. Another option was to allow the horse to be taken hostage, as Fritzlein might struggle to support his camel given the current alignment and balance of forces.
  • 21s: Fritzlein now threatens Omar's dog as well as his rabbit. Moreover, an elephant–camel attack on f3 is now possible.
  • 22g: Perhaps hoping to block a long-term dog hostage, Omar pulls a rabbit to g7. However, Omar may soon have to choose between giving up his dog immediately or having his elephant smothered.
  • 22s: Fritzlein sets up an elephant smother, which could be completed by moving the e8 dog to d7 and a rabbit to e8. Omar's elephant must now go west; with Fritzlein's elephant now on e6, Omar's elephant cannot continue to defend the trap once it leaves f7. However, Fritzlein should have added a defender to the c6 trap; it is easy to neglect one area while focused on another.
  • 23g: Omar's elephant escapes, and has a one-turn threat to Fritzlein's b6 horse. A horse capture could make up for a dog and rabbit loss in f6.
  • 23s: Fritzlein elects to save his one remaining horse, rather than trade it for a dog and rabbit. Since Omar has no camel, Fritzlein's horse can only be threatened by Omar's elephant, and Fritzlein sees the value in having two pieces which face only one threat. Without a friendly horse, Fritzlein's camel would be useless, as Omar's elephant could neutralize it at little cost elsewhere. Given the current balance of forces, Fritzlein's horse and camel need each other. Even a horse-for-horse trade would be bad for Fritzlein and good for Omar.
  • 24g: Omar plays the one and only move which centralizes his elephant and saves his f5 dog.
  • 24s: Fritzlein could simply capture the h6 rabbit, but would have to end the turn with his camel exposed. Fritzlein thus moves his elephant to f5 and pulls the rabbit to g6, setting up a solid rabbit frame even if Omar defends the trap.
  • 25g: Omar once again defends f6 with his elephant. Anticipating a trap attack by Fritzlein, Omar defends f3 with four pieces. Omar also steps his western horse to the a-file, perhaps preparing to pull a rabbit; while this is not ideal, Omar does not have many ways to create a threat while defending f6.
  • 25s: Fritzlein frames the rabbit and thus pins Omar's elephant to its defense. Fritzlein may soon attack f3, but must watch the squares around f6 if he wants to keep the frame.
  • 26g: Fearing a camel-held hostage beside f6, Omar moves his eastern horse and dog. However, having one's horse passive in a home corner is not much better than having it held hostage beside an away trap.
  • 26s: Fritzlein develops in the east. The g-file rabbit advances to support its camel, not to threaten goal, as Omar's defense is sufficiently thick at the moment.
  • 27g: Omar pulls a rabbit in the west.
  • 27s: Fritzlein rotates a dog forward with the idea of freeing his elephant to attack f3. With the enemy camel gone and the friendly camel patrolling the east, the dog can take f5, and a rabbit can hold g6. The framed rabbit couldn't retreat to f5 in any case, but Fritzlein's dog will block Omar from relieving the frame.
  • 28g: Omar retreats his e-file cat and dog. However, this gives Fritzlein's elephant a clearer path to e3, from where it could lead an attack on the f3 trap. Had Omar kept the dog and cat in place, it is not clear whether Fritzlein could have threatened the dog without exposing his camel.
  • 28s: Fritzlein attacks the f3 trap. Intending to move his own elephant to e3, Fritzlein advances a rabbit to h4 so that his camel can retreat if Omar's elephant comes to f4. Omar likely cannot avert disaster in f3 unless he brings his elephant south and thus abandons the f6 rabbit. Until that happens, however, that rabbit is a potential goal threat, as Fritzlein's recent rabbit advances have thinned his eastern defense. For now, Fritzlein's camel must remain on the g-file to ensure that the frame cannot be relieved from the side.
  • 29g: Omar blockades f3, but such a defense cannot hold for long. Moreover, c3 is now undefended. For Omar, this might have been the time to abandon the framed rabbit and move his elephant south to slow Fritzlein's attack.
  • 29s: Fritzlein threatens Omar's dog in f3 and cat in c3. Omar would need only one step to save the cat, but that step could be costly. Omar might concede the f3 trap if he could free the f6 rabbit and threaten goal, but he cannot do that quickly enough to offset a cleanup in f3.
  • 30g: Omar finds a way to save both the cat and dog, creating phalanxes to protect the pinned f2 rabbit.
  • 30s: The dog flip leaves Omar with only one way to defend f3. Fritzlein could have instead flipped the horse and likewise forced Omar's hand, but prefers to keep Omar's horse passive in the southeast.
  • 31g: Omar must move his elephant to f4 and thus give up his framed rabbit. Omar pushes Fritzlein's dog onto f5 rather than e4, so that it can't immediately participate in an attack on the c3 trap.
  • 31s: As Fritzlein planned on 28s, his h4 rabbit allows his camel to retreat. This may be the difference between the camel being taken hostage and the camel holding a hostage.
  • 32g: Fearing an elephant-horse attack on c3, Omar blocks Fritzlein's horse on the b-file. Fritzlein might move his horse through the trap, however, if his elephant goes to d3.
  • 32s: Fritzlein gets his camel safely away from Omar's elephant, which must now defend f6 to save its dog.
  • 33g: Omar defends f6 and shores up the southeast against any possible goal attack. If Fritzlein's camel went south to attack f3, Omar's dog could become a strong attacker at f6.
  • 33s: Fritzlein threatens to frame Omar's dog in f6; this frame would likely force Omar to give up the dog, as Fritzlein's elephant could otherwise dominate the board.
  • 34g: Omar blocks the frame/capture and retreats his western horse out of immediate danger.
  • 34s: In a mostly defensive move, Fritzlein's camel pushes Omar's dog up to the edge. A buried dog-by-camel hostage is not efficient, but Fritzlein's camel is out of danger, and Omar's dog is stuck in the corner. The downside for Fritzlein is that his camel does not currently threaten either of Omar's horses, and Omar's elephant could now leave without immediately losing the dog. This 34s may have been a good move given the position, but previous moves might have been better spent threatening a horse rather than a dog.
  • 35g: Omar threatens a rabbit in f3.
  • 35s: Fritzlein defends f3, and begins to clear space for an eventual dog-capture threat in f6. Advancing a rabbit from f7 may not be wise, however, as it thins his back ranks and exposes yet another rabbit to possible capture in f3. Fritzlein could have instead attacked in the west, likely outpacing any eastern progress by Omar, whose western horse likely could not have held b3.
  • 36g: Omar frames the rabbit and thus pins Fritzlein's elephant on e3. It is rarely worthwhile for an elephant to defend a mere rabbit; Fritzlein must soon either give up the rabbit or advance more pieces to the southeast and create a new threat there.
  • 36s: Fritzlein moves Omar's dog a square closer to the f6 trap. Rather than moving his cat west, Fritzlein advances it, perhaps hoping to relieve the frame in f3. However, it might be difficult to do this in a way that would free Fritzlein's elephant; if it left, the rabbit and any supporter could be at risk.
  • 37g: Omar blocks the cat and rotates forward his horse, threatening an attack on f6 which the hostage dog might also eventually join.
  • 37s: Fritzlein finally establishes a one-turn threat to the dog. He also blocks g5 and thus g6. With rabbits now on g5 and h5, however, Fritzlein may face additional losses in f3 if his elephant is forced to leave.
  • 38g: Omar clears the path to g6.
  • 38s: Fritzlein re-establishes the g-file blockade, but Omar's eastern horse can continue to undermine that blockade and perhaps threaten more rabbits in f3. Fritzlein also moves his own horse from b6 to d6, perhaps hoping to advance it through the center. Fritzlein is now vulnerable on the b-file, however, and risks an attack on c6.
  • 39g: Omar advances four different pieces, gaining space in the east and preparing an attack in the west. He could have advanced the horse further, but didn't want to tempt Fritzlein's pinned elephant to move.
  • 39s: Fritzlein advances his horse three squares, aiming to either attack c3 or dig his rabbit out of f3.
  • 40g: Omar abandons his hostaged dog and threatens Fritzlein's horse. Since the horse cannot be frozen, Omar gains little by stepping his elephant south. Omar could have instead used the last two steps to advance the b4 horse to b6, and thus attack the highly vulnerable c6 trap. Note that if Fritzlein immediately captured the f8 dog, Omar's elephant could then capture the d3 horse even from d5.
  • 40s: Fritzlein gets his horse onto Omar's home rank, and might soon dig out the f3 rabbit from behind and create a goal threat. The horse was able to escape because it took only three steps on 39s; had it advanced to d2 on that turn, it could have then been frozen in place and threatened with one-turn capture.
  • 41g: Omar now attacks c6. Had Omar started this attack a turn earlier, he could now create a forceful goal threat.
  • 41s: Fritzlein has time to snatch the dog and thus also activate his camel. He will now lose two rabbits, but could not have saved both.
  • 42g: Omar captures a rabbit and advances his rabbit one step, setting up a goal on the c-file. Fritzlein is very weak in the west, and would only lose more pieces if he tried to block the goal on the back ranks.
  • 42s: Fritzlein is forced to defend with his elephant, giving up the f3 rabbit and thus a potential goal threat of his own. For Omar, a goal attack is still feasible, but less straightforward now that Fritzlein's elephant blocks the c-file.
  • 43g: Omar shores up his defense of c3 and tries to prevent a horse hostage beside c6, as Fritzlein appears able to get two material threats if he gets one. However, it may be a mistake to think in terms of material threats when one can advance rabbits toward such a thin goal line.
  • 43s: Fritzlein places a dog on c7, blocking a potential c-file goal even if his elephant goes to b6. He also inches his camel forward in the east.
  • 44g: Omar's horse retreats and threatens a rabbit. However, Fritzlein's horse can defend c3 from behind. Unless a capture can be quickly forced, bringing an enemy rabbit homeward is rarely a good move on a depleted board.
  • 44s: Fritzlein defends c3 from behind. Rather than placing his elephant on c4 and going for an immediate attack on the trap, Fritzlein steps his elephant east and thus impedes Omar's elephant's path to the southwest. Fritzlein may want his own elephant to occupy d3 rather than c4. By stepping his elephant to the d-file, however, Fritzlein gives Omar greater prospects for a western goal.
  • 45g: Omar finally advances a rabbit past the third rank.
  • 45s: Fritzlein wants to move his camel to g5, but this would require four steps; if Fritzlein does not spare a step to block the c4 rabbit, Omar can advance that rabbit onto c6 and a dog onto c4. With plenty of time to think, Fritzlein calculates that he can ward off such a goal attack, and thus uses all four steps to slide pieces in the northeast.
  • 46g: Facing no immediate threat in the east, Omar presses his goal attack in the west.
  • 46s: Fritzlein steps his elephant back to c5; he cannot get a solid frame in c6, but his elephant must defend goal. Fritzlein uses his other three steps to threaten Omar's eastern horse.
  • 47g: Omar's western horse relieves the frame in an irreversible manner, as Fritzlein's rabbit could never step back to b6. The c6 rabbit is now a strong goal threat.
  • 47s: Fritzlein's elephant takes b6, pushing the horse to b7. This will not be a long-term hostage, but it does limit the c6 rabbit's movement.
  • 48g: Omar creates a one-turn goal threat, which will force Fritzlein's elephant to d6.
  • 48s: Fritzlein neutralizes the goal threat, vindicating his 45s. Fritzlein himself now has a formidable goal threat in the southwest.
  • 49g: Omar defends c3, and tries to reopen a goal path for his own rabbit.
  • 49s: Fritzlein threatens Omar's b6 horse and d5 rabbit.
  • 50g: Rather than defend or delay, Omar offers a horse exchange. Every even trade diminishes the influence of Fritzlein's camel and increases the importance of Omar's extra rabbit. However, Omar may soon have to scramble to save his other horse in the east.
  • 50s: Fritzlein has little choice but to accept the offered trade, as he can't defend his own horse without giving up a dog in c6.
  • 51g: Perhaps seeing little difference between a horse and a dog at this juncture, Omar now offers his other horse for Fritzlein's western dog. The b4 and d5 rabbits may also be exchanged.
  • 51s: Fritzlein could save his dog and rabbit, but sees no point in doing so.
  • 52g: Preferring to keep his elephant on c4 and remain strong in the west, Omar uses a flip to capture the dog.
  • 52s: Fritzlein first captures the rabbit, which could have become a goal threat. Moving the elephant to c5 lends extra defense to Fritzlein's depleted west wing. Omar's horse cannot be rescued on the next turn, so Fritzlein loses nothing by capturing the rabbit first.
  • 53g: Omar's b3 cat captures to c2 so that Omar's elephant can leave without hanging the cat. Considering that Fritzlein's western defense was quite thin, Omar might have done better to flip the rabbit into the trap and thus keep his cat and elephant positioned to support an a-file rabbit advance.
  • 53s: Fritzlein completes the exchange and moves his elephant to d4, keeping Omar's dog in the east. Fritzlein is again vulnerable in the west, but not as vulnerable as he would have been had Omar's cat stayed on the b-file; had Omar kept his cat in place, Fritzlein would have had to keep his elephant on defense.
  • 54g: Lacking any effective material threat, Omar threatens goal.
  • 54s: Fritzlein defends in the most efficient manner possible, keeping his elephant and camel free.
  • 55g: Omar freezes Fritzlein's dog, which Fritzlein would now need three steps to unfreeze; on the fourth step, Fritzlein could not safely move the dog, as that would allow for a capture in c6.
  • 55s: Fritzlein brings his cat to e6 to prevent his dog from being pushed east. Fritzlein's eastern goal defense is becoming thin, but his elephant and camel are well-positioned.
  • 56g: Omar takes d6 and d3. At this point, a rabbit on d3 might do more to stop an enemy goal than would a rabbit on d1.
  • 56s: Fritzlein moves his dog through the c6 trap, blocking Omar's goal path and threatening an attack on c3.
  • 57g: Omar moves his elephant east to face Fritzlein's camel. While this might seem like a good alignment, Omar has effectively given up the west wing. Had Omar instead pushed Fritzlein's dog to c6, Omar would have at least retained a potential goal threat while preventing a western goal attack by Fritzlein.
  • 57s: Alert to the risks in both f6 and f3, Fritzlein moves his camel east. His elephant takes d3, blocking Omar's dog. Fritzlein is now well-balanced, with his dog and camel active on opposite wings and his elephant in the middle. Omar is poorly balanced, and must quickly defend in the west.
  • 58g: Omar temporarily defends c3, but leaves it vulnerable.
  • 58s: Fritzlein controls the entire board; his dog can now dominate the west, his cat defends f6 from behind, and his camel is supported by rabbits in the east. Whatever Omar now tries can likely be stopped easily.
  • 59g: Omar hopes to sneak a rabbit to goal. Fritzlein could now capture the c4 rabbit, but then Omar could capture Fritzlein's camel and try to get something going in the east. Even after losing his camel, Fritzlein could defend in the east and attack in the west; this is no longer a material game.
  • 59s: Fritzlein preserves his camel, but leaves Omar the option of taking it hostage. In that case, Fritzlein's dog could capture Omar's c4 rabbit and then create further threats in the west. For Omar, holding the camel hostage might not be worth having his elephant in the southeastern corner. The strength of a hostage further depends on what the defending elephant can do; a hostage defender might leave at any time in pursuit of some other prize. Usually that other prize is a horse at best, i.e. something worth less than the camel which would be lost. In an endgame, however, a camel can be abandoned in pursuit of a goal, which is obviously worth more.
  • 60g: Omar declines to take the hostage, and instead moves his elephant west. Fritzlein's rabbit advance to e4 costs Omar a step here.
  • 60s to end: Fritzlein's win is now a matter of patience and technique. He has time to calculate variations exactly to be sure that his goal threats will always land home one move sooner than Omar's, so Omar must always defend rather than race. At this point, Omar can only delay Fritzlein and hope for a mistake.

    On 62g, Omar stops an immediate goal by surrounding Fritzlein's camel. On 63g, Omar does not have time for a dog capture, as he must ensure that he can occupy f1 even if the rabbit is pushed up. On 64g, Omar's elephant is forced to its home rank to get the cat onto f1. Fritzlein then threatens goal in the west, and Omar decides to go down shooting.


Each player missed opportunities for strong trap attacks. By some estimations, Fritzlein held a continuous advantage after 21g, but it is not certain that he would have defended adequately had Omar better pressed him after 39s.