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
5 5
4 4
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 must then decide whether to keep his elephant in the northeast, or move it to the southwest to stop the cleanup in c3. In the actual game, either side could have benefited by slowing or stopping the race at different times.

a b c d e f g h
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 might then be tempted to capture the g3 rabbit, but could subsequently lose his camel with little chance to close the material gap or reestablish a strong goal threat. Gold must focus on the northwest; Eb5en md6e Ec6e would reassert full Gold control of c6. There may be several more captures, but goal threats are key.

In most cases, the first one to lose home trap control could not win a race. It is important to defend one's home traps at least until one has a strong attack on an away trap.