The "delayed" F opening, with a double-block
The usual idea with this opening is for violet to wrap N around orange X on move 3 (killing a bunch of corners) & then keep squeezing. There are basically two approaches for violet to this opening (& to many others): circling (i.e. both players keep moving counterclockwise) and blocking (when violet stops the circling with a block — often with a double-block by doing the same thing on the next turn). This game is an example of a double-block, with violet L5 and N.
I have a general theory about this opening: if orange loosely “mirrors” it (i.e. plays a piece on the opposite side from violet rather than blocking, & roughly matching violet’s level of aggressiveness — i.e. match a kiss with a kiss, a hang with a hang) then it’s very hard to lose by a lot, & in fact one can often eke out a win or tie. It’s a 50-50 type of game as long as orange doesn’t panic… I think.
Anyway, here’s one example, caught in the wild. I’ll get around later to discussing the line if violet puts Y or N on top of orange X on move 3. The key here is that orange F creates a nasty trap for violet, because there’s a classic unblockable 1-2 series of holes on the top of violet F. Violet’s strategy may be at fault here — I’m pretty sure violet Y is a mistake, as it’s necessary to close the bottom side (e.g. with T5) to avoid getting the return threat created by orange L5.
Here is the move order:
- F – X
- X – N
- L5 – F
- N – Y
- Y – L5
- Z5 – I5 …. and the rest is self-explanatory.
If violet blocks off the bottom attack then it looks better for violet:
This time violet cuts off the bottom
I’m pretty sure it’s disaster for orange to block V5 below immediately. Violet would simply play Z4 or P up top to both block the attack off orange Y & staunch the dangerous leak off orange F. Here’s one possible line (probably not ideal) that results in a minor win for violet.
One possible line: 4-pt win for violet
Maybe this would be a point or two better if orange plays L5 above, then T5 rather than L5 in the bottom (I think violet would be unlikely to block the T5 in favour of defending top left), then U and O4 to fill the bottom, Z4 rather than W to fill the hole, & repack accordingly… Choices, choices. (I just tried that — the results are 65-61, the same difference.)
To explore this line more thoroughly we’d need to check what happens with various violet blocks other than T5, & also the possibility if violet plays L4 wrapping around the bottom of orange X. Orange could play L5 not Z4 on top, threatening Z5-I2-I4 down the side of violet’s pieces… the problem here being that if orange really went through with this plan, in the interim violet could make serious (hole-less) grabs for space on the right.
I’m not entirely sure how the game works out if orange plays Y up: but here’s one winning line for orange. Possibly N for violet on top would do better than Z.
Final score 66 for orange, 60 for violet. Maybe Y would be better than V5 below?