Arimaa/Race Positions

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8 Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa cs.svg Arimaa cs.svg Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rs.svg 8
7 Arimaa ds.svg Arimaa hs.svg Arimaa eg.svg Arimaa ms.svg Arimaa rs.svg 7
6 Arimaa rs.svg 6
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3 Arimaa hs.svg Arimaa es.svg Arimaa dg.svg 3
2 Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa dg.svg Arimaa hg.svg Arimaa cg.svg Arimaa cg.svg Arimaa mg.svg Arimaa hg.svg Arimaa rg.svg 2
1 Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rg.svg 1
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Gold has just captured a silver dog in f6, and several more captures could quickly follow.

A race position occurs when both sides can make quick progress in different parts of the board. A race will slow or stop when one side chooses defense over offense. If too many captures occur, however, there will be few pieces left to use for defense. It is thus important to avoid or quickly exit a race that one cannot ultimately win.

In the position at right, each side left a home trap vulnerable. Silver has a strong attack on c3, but has already lost a dog in f6 and will lose his camel if he doesn't use two steps to save it. If Silver goes for an all-out race, he will immediately capture the c2 horse rather than save his camel. If Gold does indeed capture the silver camel, Silver will then capture the b2 dog or d2 cat. Gold could then exit the race by moving his elephant west to stop the cleanup in c3. In the actual game, Gold continued to race and predictably lost, as Silver's attack on c3 was too strong to be ignored. This attack might have been punished, however, had the gold elephant come west after capturing the silver camel. Had the advanced silver horse been taken hostage, Gold might have then dominated the east.

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8 Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rs.svg 8
7 Arimaa ds.svg Arimaa dg.svg Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa cs.svg Arimaa rs.svg 7
6 Arimaa dg.svg Arimaa hs.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa ms.svg 6
5 Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa eg.svg Arimaa hs.svg 5
4 Arimaa es.svg Arimaa mg.svg 4
3 Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa cg.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rs.svg 3
2 Arimaa hg.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa ds.svg 2
1 Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rg.svg 1
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This race centers around goal threats and trap control.

A strong goal threat may change the course of a race. 37g and 38g of this game forced Silver to defend goal rather than continue a cleanup which might have soon forced a silver goal. On 38s, Silver had to stop the d6 rabbit; merely freezing it in place would not be enough, as Gold could unfreeze and unblock it with Dc7s rd7w, leaving two steps for goal. If Silver used his elephant to stop this goal, his own threats in the east would be gone. A strong 38s might have been mg6ww Rd6s me6w; this would preserve Silver's eastern threats, delay Gold's threats, and even threaten the c7 dog. Gold could respond with Eb5en md6e Ec6e, reasserting full control of the c6 trap. If Silver then captured the gold camel, Gold could capture the b6 horse and again threaten goal on the next turn. Silver's material advantage might still win out, however, as he can defend and attack simultaneously.


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8 Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rs.svg 8
7 Arimaa cs.svg Arimaa hg.svg Arimaa ds.svg Arimaa ms.svg Arimaa cs.svg 7
6 Arimaa ds.svg Arimaa hg.svg Arimaa mg.svg Arimaa cg.svg 6
5 Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa es.svg Arimaa hs.svg 5
4 Arimaa dg.svg Arimaa dg.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rg.svg 4
3 Arimaa cg.svg Arimaa eg.svg Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rg.svg 3
2 Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa hs.svg 2
1 Arimaa rg.svg Arimaa rg.svg 1
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Silver would have strong goal threats if the f2 horse were active; the gold elephant is thus restricted, and Gold's advanced pieces are at risk.


A race typically involves two active elephants. If one elephant is stuck, even temporarily, any race is likely to favor the opponent. In this game, Silver started a race while the gold elephant defended goal. Gold captured both silver horses, but did not have time to capture the advanced silver rabbits. Silver allowed her camel to be captured on 30g, as her eastern goal was then unstoppable.

In essence, a race occurs whenever each respective elephant leads an attack on an away trap, as each side has potential for a cleanup unless one elephant or the other returns home. One losing such a race might exit it before any piece is lost; once an elephant defends at home, a slow counterattack may be feasible.