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[Chess 2] Empowered defense against Reaper

This is a continued discussion from the old forums. The discussion is whether or not Empowered as Black can ever beat Reaper, or is it a dead game against a double-ghost midline blitz. We’ve already analyzed one line that turned out okay for Empowered. Now we’re trying another one as suggested by Kristoph. That line has started:

  1. Rf6 Rg6
  2. Rh6 Bd6
  3. f4 Rb6
  4. Kf2 Nc6
  5. f5 Bxf5


Looks like the AI is trying to force another exchange of the Reaper Queen for the Rook and Knight.

Hopefully Kristoph will pick up this game. I would be interested in seeing how a more seasoned Reaper player handles the match.

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What’s interesting about that move is that it’s just kind of a big concession for Empowered. Empowered and Classic both have those kinds of moves available where they do stuff that can be punished by the Reaper, but they’re willing to do it because it’s at least better for midline. The question then is ‘is it actually okay for midline.’ If yes, then okay, they live with the lost pawn or minor or whatever.

Without dueling is this dead? With dueling it’s actually pretty annoying because capturing the bishop will probably be dueled, and then I probably have to live with a stone disadvantage, and midline will be a long ways off. Without dueling (or with dueling where Reaper wins the bids), does Empowered have a response to Reaper taking bishop, then taking g6, then advancing king?

Okay anyway, I guess I just do lazy Kf3 here?

Wow, this match helped me discover a bug in my AI’s code. The AI initially suggested 6. …Rg5+ producing this board:

The reason it did that is because it thought that 7. Qxg5 was an illegal move. In normal situations, when your king is in check, the only legal moves are move your king, kill the attacker, or move a piece in between. So my AI was only considering those moves. I had to change the code to include attacking “move giving” empowered pieces as well. After that fix, the AI is now giving the more bold 6. …Bxc2

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ok that’s strong, yikes. i don’t see any decent continuations for reaper here. lazy kf4 seems to get beaten pretty badly (like straight up losing the game) by e5+, the only way to move forward in that line would be to put the reaper in a pin which looks like it’s just game over.

in addition the reaper is threatened right now, and everything is defended. so i kind of have to think of something to do with my reaper. the best thing i can think of right now is like, qh1 or something. empowered seems prepared for a reaper sac on any of its minors, generally because b6 rook can swing down to defend midline easily, and i really don’t want to move a ghost to block that since it’ll allow knight and rook (or if i sac for g6, knight and bishop) to get connected.

so yeah after kf3 i think empowered is def out of the woods here!

You want to try a different line?

yeah. i think after bxf5 things are pretty good for empowered. how about g4 instead of f5

Okay, let’s try:

  1. Rf6 Rg6
  2. Rh6 Bd6
  3. f4 Rb6
  4. Kf2 Nc6
  5. g4 Be6

main things i’m looking at are bh3, kg3, and i guess maybe d3 or something. notably qxh7 is an option now but not a terribly good one. maybe it could be in the future though

this approach by empowered is very interesting and different from what i’m used to messing with (it actually looks ridiculously obvious but hey). there are a lot of points where it’s vulnerable to reaper sac stuff but there are just so many minors developed that eventually i run out of stones. a worry that i’d have as empowered here is ‘how does the long game play out,’ since your pieces are so vulnerable to trades. that’s probably a big concession to make, but if it accomplishes the goal of actually reaching a complex midgame, probably worth it?

i never looked that deeply at the rg6 opening move surprisingly enough! at first i was always running rg6 (as reaper!) specifically to avoid this, but then i looked at rg6 (for empowered) and it didn’t look good to me. at the end of the day i could move a ghost to g5 or whatever, or harass it with a pawn. but with a billion minors developed it hasn’t been that simple. we’ve seen how the latter approach can kind of fail badly. and the problem with ghost to g5 is that you can get knight and rook connected, and my reaper is stretched thin enough that maybe there’s no opportunity to sac there, ever. having that second rook developed seemed slow to me at first but there have been lots of lines where it’s been a really big deal.

anyway let’s try bh3.

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Looks like the AI is undaunted. 6. … Bxg4

Not to derail the game, but what could Empowered have done if white pushed the pawn to f5 a turn early?

  1. Rf6 Rg6
  2. Rh6 Bd6
  3. f4 Rb6
  4. f5 …

Without the extra turn given to black to move out the knight, black loses his rook no matter what.

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In that case, it looks like Black would go with 4. … Rxg2. If this turns out to be a disaster, then the next avenue to explore would be 3. f4 e6 instead of the second rook.

But let’s save that until after we’ve explored Kristoph’s run.

Yeah feel free to come up with other lines and stuff!

No duel here, recapture with bishop

[quote=“Kristoph, post:13, topic:590, full:true”]No duel here, recapture with bishop

Stones are White 3, Black 4.
AI duels for the bishop.

I guess I’m pretty sure I have to keep Reaper on the board here. So bid zero

The AI as Black randomizes here between bidding 0/1/2 with chances 0%/37%/63%. I could randomize, but since the purpose of this exercise is to see if Black is crushed, maybe we should go with the situation that favors Black - that is, he bids 1. That way, if Reaper still ends up on top, we can definitively give this line to Reaper. Would that be okay? If so, Black’s followup is e5.

that is exactly what i would do yeah (regarding the bidding)

there’s a lot of stuff out of this opening that is weird. since the opening’s gameplan is kind of ‘get a bunch of power pieces on the board and fuck everything else,’ it seems like there are some pretty good options for stopping quick midline stuff. but in general i feel like it’s kind of bad for actually winning the game. empowered’s queenside minors being really available for trades means maybe reaper is super happy about this even if it’s going to take a bit longer. like in theory wouldn’t i just start harassing with pawns and minors for a while instead of rushing forward with king right away.

anyway i think f5 could be okay here. i don’t fear bxf5 in this position since it leaves empowered with no bishops, and i can even try to target h7 with a knight or something, to get a stone and keep my reaper on the board as long as possible. but midline would probably take a while. also i’m more afraid of rg2+ there anyway.

let’s try Nf3


Ok uh let’s see. This bot is hard btw! =(

That king move is good cuz I don’t think i can do any exchanges without losing by midline, I think I just want to defend against that here. I guess d3 is a good way of doing that, so I’ll do that

PxP. I think stones are 3-3 before the capture.