1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 10 10 11 11 12 12 13 13 14 14 15 15 16 16 17 17 18 18 19 19 20 20 21 21 22 22 23 23 24 24 25 25 26 26 27 27 28 28 29 29 30 30 31 31 32 32 33 33 34 34 35 35 36 36 37 37 38 38 39 39 40 40 41 41 42 42 43 43 44 44 45 45 46 46 47 47 48 48 49 49 50 50 51 51 52 52 53 53 54 54 55 55 56 56 57 57 58 58 59 59

Hex:
A Strategy Guide

Matthew Seymour


Chapter 9

Commented games

9.0.1 Commented game 1 (LG #1818413)

m1 S swap j9 i5 d5 (Diagram 314): The players begin by claiming the corners of the board.

e9: White takes the other obtuse corner in order to strengthen the southwest edge. Now White has both obtuse corners, which is strong, but they’ve left Black with two j9-like acute corners, which is also very strong. Even though A would still have been attacking thanks to S , White elects to play on the short diagonal. This is more strongly attached to the southwest, but invades less of Black’s space along the southeast edge.

h6: Probably the best place for Black to cut through the short diagonal.

i10: White challenges with an outside intrusion.

i9: Typical response to an outside intrusion.

A 1 5 4 7 6 9 3 8 S a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 314


j11 k11 j12 k12 k10 l8 l10 m9 m10 (Diagram 315): Continuation of this acute corner pattern. Black may be playing the clock with m9 m10 (under some time controls, players get extra time when they make a move, so occasionally you will see seemingly unnecessary sequences played because a player is trying to bank time for later).

g10: Exactly fits the edge of the board with Template A-4.

f12: Perhaps White wants e11 c12 d13. The extra stone on c12 would help connect B connect to the southwest with less space, and there’s also the potential follow-up of f10 f11 for additional territory. However White’s ignoring the principle that you should avoid weak blocks in the middle of your opponent’s connecting area. This leaves open the possibility of a minmaxing response, if Black can find a good one.

g8: Minmaxing move. Black can keep C as a threat now. For example if e11 h11 h10 g11 then Black still threatens D or E .

h10: White still wants that territory on F by cutting off the risk of Black playing C , perhaps expecting the response e11 c12 d13.

C D E F 21 15 B 17 19 22 14 16 18 10 11 20 12 13 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 315


d8 (Diagram 316): Instead of the “obvious” e11 (which leads to the followup c12 d13), Black keeps multiple paths open through this minmaxing move. If White cuts off directly with c10, Black can respond with e11, and there’s no point in White playing c12 d13. Notice how much better this outcome is for Black as compared to e11 c12 d13, since this way Black gets the stone on d8.

e11: Instead of c10, White responds with e11. But Black has a second threat, as we’ll see next.

d11 c10 e10: This is the other threat of Black’s move 23. White must block from connecting to the southeast, hence c10. Black’s e10 is forced.

h4 f5 h5 f7: White will eventually want to block from connecting to G . Doing so will send the game towards the northern obtuse corner. So White first tries to get some territory in the area by threatening to cut off H from the northwest. Black’s responses keep the group connected to the northwest, with Template L-5a.

28 29 30 H 31 23 G 26 27 25 24 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 316


f9 f10 g9 h9 h8 (Diagram 317): Here’s the block.

i7 i8 k7 j7: Forcing moves by Black. Notice how the game is moving towards the northern obtuse corner. Now we’ll see if White’s territory gained on moves 28–31 will be enough.

l4: Note that k6 would not be connected to the northeast edge for White. Alternatively, if l5, Black gets a winning second-row ladder through k6 j6 k5 and either k3 m2 or l3 j4 j3 k3, with I and J escaping any second-row ladders.

k5: If Black plays l5 then k6 l6 l3 k4 k3 j5 i6. But Black has a better plan.

j6 k6 m5 l3 k4: Now is connected to the southeast, while is connected to the northwest. White resigns.

46 47 41 J I 42 45 43 44 37 40 39 36 38 32 34 35 33 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 317

9.0.2 Commented game 2 (LG #1805380)

l3 S swap j9 f5 d5 (Diagram 318): Opening. l3 is an unusual opening, I don’t know if it’s strong or weak. White plays a “step back” from the j9-equivalent e4 with f5.

d3 c3 c4 b6: Common variation of the low intrusion. Black’s group is almost connected.

i5 k4: Obtuse corner and response.

j10 i10: High intrusion to j9. Serves as a ladder escape after j6 k6 k5 m4.

j3: With nearly connected to the northwest edge, White tries to salvage some territory but risks being undermined.

l2 l3 k3 j6 l5: Black begins to undermine White with the connection to the northwest.

15 7 6 14 17 16 8 11 5 4 10 19 9 18 3 13 12 S a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 318


g11 (Diagram 319): White tries to resist the obvious move k7 by threatening to cut off A from the southeast edge.

h9: Black plays a minmax type move in response. This group isn’t totally connected to the southeast should White play h12, but there are strong responses for Black.

k7: The intrusion on move 20 has really only strengthened Black’s position. White plays k7 now.

l8 l7: With this move Black has ensured that A is now strongly connected to the southeast, since can be used to initiate a ladder-escape fork for a third-row ladder. also threatens to connect to B , forcing the White response and handing the initiative back to Black.

j7 k6: Black takes territory. Note the Trapezoid template.

g6: Note that i6 could be connected to after White’s response j5. If White plays h4, Black responds with e6, leaving them in a very strong position, for example e5 d6 e2 e3 f2 f3 g2 h3 g3 g4.

B 27 26 25 22 24 23 21 A 20 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 319


g7 g8 (Diagram 320): Black can connect the group to C by playing at D .

e7 h4 g3 i2: Here White makes it a tad harder for Black to connect the E F group to the northwest edge. Now G is part of the area Black needs to connect this group to the edge—note how this hex must be free for e2 f4 g4 f3 to work for Black. Keep this sequence in mind, the endgame will revolve around it.

h6: White blocks Black from playing at D , which would win the game (since C and H are connected to the northwest edge and is connected to the southeast).

f7 f8: Forced.

e8 e9: If Black had played d9 then e8 c8 e5 (this move threatens Black’s connection to the northwest edge, see comment on moves 30–33) e3 c7 and Black will lose after a8 b8 a9 b9 a10 b10 a11 b12 b11 d10.

c10: This move is connected to the southeast, e.g. c11 d10 e11 e10 g9 f10 g12 f11 e13 d12.

D G 33 32 31 H E F C 34 30 35 28 37 36 29 38 39 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 320


d9 b9 (Diagram 321): Black can’t play c9 because of the continuations of either d8 c8 e5 e3 c7 or d8 b8 c8 b9 e2 (I is connected to the southwest edge) f4 e5 e4 c6.

b8: With Black threatening to play at J , White must block.

c8 d8 d6: Move 44 is forced. Black is now connected; White resigns.

J I 45 42 43 44 41 40 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 321

9.0.3 Commented game 3 (LG #1819793)

d11 S swap h6 (Diagram 322): Unorthodox opening. It’s third-row ladder escape, but it’s off the short diagonal so it isn’t as strong as it looks. White elects to swap. The response is in the obtuse corner while also serving as a classic block.

e4 j9 f8: The players occupy the remaining corners. Note how is connected to the southwest edge thanks to .

c4 c2 d2: Black attacks White’s acute corner. A standard corner pattern (low intrusion, old response) plays out. White is still quite strong towards the southwest edge. Black now has second- and third-row ladder escapes along the northwest edge.

d6: This move coordinates with , being a bridge move away. However it doesn’t really attack Black very much, lying very close to White’s southwest edge, which was already quite strong. A more aggressive move may have been appropriate here.

8 9 7 4 S 10 3 6 5 1 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 322


e7 (Diagram 323): Black keeps open options to to approach the southeast edge. They can either go around the north side of A from B , or the south of A from this stone. This stone also cuts off A from it’s previously strong connection to the southwest edge—White will have to spend a move if they want to save it, so we could consider this a weak block.

g5: White responds with a weak block of their own, threatening to cut off either B or from the northwest edge. This gives White a second threat to cross the board, in addition to the one going through A . What’s more, should Black attempt to block A from the southwest with d9, White can connect it with g6 f5 g3 h4 (Black can’t break the fourth-row ladder at C , it won’t connect to the northwest) g4.

i6: Black plays a minmaxing response. This strengthens Black’s connection to the southeast while staying nearly connected to the northwest. White could attempt to block the latter by i5 but Black can deflect with h5 i3 h4 h3 f4 g4 e6 f7 d9 making use of .

h9: Black’s central group is more weakly connected to the southeast, so White attacks it here.

C 12 B 13 11 A 14 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 323


g6 (Diagram 324): Minmaxing again. By connecting the central stones together into a single group, Black guarantees they are connected to the northwest. This also serves as a strong base from which to connect to the southeast by adding the threats D provides.

d11: With threats coming from both D and the E F pair, White blocks a bit further back in order to meet both threats simultaneously.

f10: Black plays a double threat in response, the D F group can be connected to or the edge by either of:

  1. g8;
  2. d9 d12 e10; or
  3. d9 e10 c11.

Note that these threats, as well as the connection of to the southeast, depend on using G to escape ladders.

i10: With the importance of G to Black’s threats, White blocks its use as a ladder escape. Another approach might have been to play f9, which cuts off the threat of d9 through the response d10, however Black can play g8 g9 i8 i9 j8 i11 k10 k11 j11 i13 and then use to get a switchback and connect.

15 E F D G 17 18 16 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 324


d9 (Diagram 325): With this move, Black has strongly connected the central group to H through either I or J . Note how these threats don’t overlap. White’s only attempt to block H from the southeast is f11, yielding a second-row ladder, but Black can play the ladder fork b12.

i3 j4: One last attempt by White but the game is over. After k2 h4 h3 f4 Black would be connected to the northwest. White resigns.

I J 20 21 19 H a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 325

9.0.4 Commented game 4 (LG #1880488)

a4 S swap (Diagram 326): a4 is a strong opening, White swaps it.

g4: This stone is attached to the northwest edge by Template A-4 or Template B-4. Black has played too close to their edge and has not occupied a corner.

h9: White plays further out. Note that this move is four bridge moves (i10 j11 k12 l13) away from the east corner.

j9 j11 l11 l10 k10 k11 i11 j8: Acute corner pattern sequence. Black now has second-, third- and fourth-row ladder escapes (the higher ladders will cascade through into second-row ladders which can be escaped by ). White’s is connected to the northeast edge.

f8: This move is threatening connection towards Black’s southeast edge. For example e10 g9 f11 g10 or f9 e9 d11 e10 and Black has a fourth-row ladder escaped by and . But it’s not strongly connected: White could block with d12.

g6: White would rather attack the weaker link in Black’s connection, between and . This move is attached to the northeast edge: the seventh-row ladder h6 g7 h7 g8 is escaped by the group. Lower ladders that could result from other blocks are also escaped along with the group (for example, h6 g7 h8 h7 j6 i7 j7 i8 l7 k8 l8 k9).

S 1 3 14 13 12 4 5 9 8 11 6 10 7 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 326


f6 (Diagram 327): Black must try to stop White on the southwest side of the board.

e9 f9 e10 f10 f7: Before pushing through at f7, White gets some much needed territory by threatening to cut A off from the southeast edge.

d8 e8 c10 c11 a12: Black’s tries to defend, but can only hold White to a second-row ladder. An alternative sequence, d8 e8 d10 d9 b10, holds White to a third-row ladder. With either of these ladders, White can use B to switchback and connect through C .

b11 a11 b10 a10 b9 a9 b8 a8 b7 a7 b6 a6 b5 a5 b4 a4: White ladders across the board.

b2 b3 d2: White begins the switchback. Seeing that there is no defense, Black resigns.

C B 42 44 43 41 40 39 38 37 36 15 35 34 20 33 32 21 22 A 31 30 16 17 29 28 23 18 19 27 26 24 25 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 327

9.0.5 Commented game 5 (LG #1911409)

a10 S swap j9 j11 k11 k10 i11 i12 h12 (Diagram 328): Opening swap followed by a typical corner pattern in the east corner. However Black responds to i12 locally rather than in the southern obtuse corner as in Diagram 282.

k2: This stone is connected to the northeast edge due to ability of the group to escape a third-row ladder. White likely intended this on move 8.

d5 d4 e4: Acute corner pattern. Why doesn’t Black play c5? Maybe c3 e4 f2 is too strong for White thanks to S .

e9: White takes the last free corner. A fifth-row stone works well with , should be blocked to a third-row ladder (see Diagram 259).

h7: Basically connected to the southeast and a block on .

h6 g7 f6 g6 g5: Blocking from the northwest.

d7: Perhaps Black hopes for something like e8 c9 c10 b10 b11. This would help with ladders along the northwest edge that might result from blocking . Some examples:

  1. i4 h3 j2 k1 i2 i1 h2 h1 g2 g1 f2 f1 e2 e1 c2 d2 c3 d3 b5 c5 b6 c6 b7 (connected to ) d6 e6 e5 f5 f4 g4
  2. i4 i3 h4 h3 g4 g3 c6 (connects to ) f2 c3

S 10 12 13 11 20 18 19 16 21 17 15 14 3 1 6 7 4 5 9 8 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 328


g4 (Diagram 329): Excellent minmaxing move. Threatens a Crescent with d6 or Template C-5 with e8, while extending strength to the northeast.

c8: Black will have to try to stop both. This eliminates the threat of e8 (Black can play b10 in response).

d6: With e8 blocked, White plays the Crescent move.

f4 e6: Black intrudes into White’s Crescent for some territory before blocking .

b7 c6 a6 b6 a7: Black must yield the ladder to the second row as A would escape a third-row ladder.

b4: Now White threatens b5 e3 (connected to the southwest edge by either c4 or d2 via Template D-4) c5 g2 (threatening i1 or g3).

j2 h2: Final attempt at a block by Black is easily countered. White’s major threat is essentially the same (b5 e3 c5 g2). Black resigns.

34 33 32 A 25 22 29 30 28 24 26 31 27 23 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 329

9.0.6 Commented game 6 (LG #1622776)

c2 i10 k10 k11 l10 l11 (Diagram 330): Black invades the corner immediately.

e9: Rather than continue the corner pattern Black moves on.

e6: With capturing all the hexes in the west corner (see Diagram 238), this move is effectively a j9-equivalent for White’s southwest edge.

j11 h12 h11 k9: Note that is connected to the northeast. It could provide opportunities later.

c6 c5 d5 c7: Acute corner pattern.

b7 b12: Playing the far obtuse corner is the usual response here.

c11: Trying to block a potential third-row ladder coming from .

1 14 15 13 8 17 16 7 12 2 3 5 19 11 9 4 6 18 10 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 330


g5 (Diagram 331): White neglects to save the ladder escape! Of course there’s always the option of breaking at A or B . Alternatively, White can deflect: if b8 c8 b9 c9 b10 c10 b11 c12, then Black is in trouble. There is no third-row escape along the southeast edge, and of the two points to break to, C and D , neither looks very good.

h5 g7: Black blocks from the northeast edge. White steps around the block.

b8 c8: White is fine to play the ladder given the options discussed in the comment on move 20.

e8: This cuts off the option of breaking at B . It also threatens to cut off from : if White connects to the southwest with b9 then f6 f5 g6.

c12: White cuts off F from the southeast, effectively starting a third-row ladder. As mentioned above, Black only has two points to break to: C and D .

A B C D 20 21 22 23 24 25 F 26 a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Reset board to initial state Next move Previous move Last move First move

Diagram 331


e11 (Diagram 332): Black breaks the third-row “ladder” right away.

g6: A strong move. If Black tries to block G from the southwest with b9 then c9 b10 c10 b11 d11 d10 e10.

c10 b9: With H all but connected to the southwest, Black settles for connecting to I through this weak block.

k6: Desperation play to block H from the northeast edge.

g10: An excellent finish. cannot be separated from J (which connects to the northeast edge via K ): if h10 then g12 g11 f12 e12 f11 i13 i11. To block H from , Black will have to play either g8 or g9; or maybe try to use a weak block against K . There are numerous variations but none work for Black, for example: g8 i6 j6 i7 k8 i8 m8 l7. Black resigns