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
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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
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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 both sides keep racing, the race will end with a forced goal; if the opponent is better positioned for this, one must turn to defense before it is too late.

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 further lose his camel if he ignores the east. Silver may have miscalculated in getting into this race, but Gold miscalculated in continuing to race after the camel capture; in the actual game, Gold and Silver allowed each other to continue making captures until a silver rabbit approached a thin goal line. Had the gold elephant moved to the southwest after capturing the silver camel, the race would have ended in a position not unfavorable to Gold, whose eastern horse and camel could have then attacked a weak f6.

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8 Arimaa rs.svg Arimaa rs.svg 8
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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
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This race centers around goal threats and trap control. (Game)

In the position at left, each side is threatening goal, but Gold's threat is currently stronger. Silver is to move, and must 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 her elephant to stop this goal, her own threats in the east would be gone. One strong option for Silver would be mg6ww Rd6s me6w; this would keep Silver's eastern threats intact, delay Gold's threats, and even threaten the c7 dog. Gold might then be tempted to capture the g3 rabbit or flip the b6 horse, but must remember that he is behind in material and is about to lose his camel in f6; Gold has no good way to save his camel, but can reassert full control of c6 with Eb5en md6e Ec6e. This would not yet reestablish a one-turn goal threat, but would keep the pressure on in the west. There may be several more captures, but Gold must focus on goal threats, as raw material favors Silver.

When one loses home trap control, it is probably too late to start a race. Instead, the defender might protect material with the elephant while building towards a slower counter-attack.