Mornington Crescent Illustrated with Expert Play

Expert Play Made Elementary: An Intermediate Level Example

Here legendary MC grandmaster Gregory Topov presents some annotations of a multi-player game using the Global War Variation (Geneva Standard Rules). This intermediate level game was a casual game played as recently as 2004 on the Mornington Crescent server hosted by the superb

GM Topov: I open with Chesley Lake. A strong move popularized by Canadian players at the most recent International Mornington Crescent Convention, leading to an open game and very suited for tactics commonly employed by intermediate level players.

Austin: A bold opening... Mill Hill.

Comment by GM Topov: A strong vantage point that will closely guard the open plain, and prevent vehicle action in the east.

surfnsuds: Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. It's a real lake in Massachusetts, though they did run a road down the middle and now one half of the lake gets the first part of the name and the other half of the lake gets the second half of the name. It's a Nipmuc Indian name meaning "You fish on your side, we'll fish on our side, and nobody fish in the middle," according to local legend.

Comment by GM Topov: At first sight this novel move has good development possibilities, but it doesn't take in consideration Maxwell's Transverse Motion Theorem, and so actually it immediately weakens any positional advantage as a result of the lake effect.

Harold: Bank.

surfnsuds: Coyote Point.

Comment by GM Topov: A good and quick recovery after his previous move, which was dubious. At the advanced level, however, players will usually not be given the opportunity to recover from such a potentially costly mistake. Playing Bank this early in the game requires that all commercial assets be forfeited, and so Harold has inadvertently allowed surfnsuds to get back into the game with correct play.

GM Topov: I wasn't expecting such bold moves so early in the game - nicely played so far, but it gives me a rare opportunity! I choose to turn over my "hibernation-free" bonus card on the community pile (you didn't think I had that card did you!), which requires the next player to follow the twin rule of spring union in making his next move. My next move is Thunder Bay.

Mel: Not seen the TW of the SU in a while, so.... adding a Hawaiian flavour to this and not overlooking the macadamia rule: Kewalo Basin.

GM Topov: This sure is becoming a global game. Using my admiral token for free naval privileges and following the rule of fives, I play the cautious move: Panama Canal. Note that in accordance with the territorial alliance treaty rule option (Hawaii, 1952), no moves may be made in Asia the next two turns, and all players are required to adopt the fourth protocol in the rest of the game.

surfnsuds: Nob Hill. How could I play anything else at this point?

Comment by GM Topov: This is correct, few other legal moves were available. Options were certainly very limited, especially because of the vertical geography restriction that follows after my move.

GM Topov: Because of the eastern tilt, I'll be forced to pass my move, else I will end up having to declare my prince too soon in the game, and risk losing the time trial in the tank quadrant! So instead I'll contribute a token to the community hope chest, and wait for a river move. Pass (with Community Hope Chest used).

Philip: Merion Station (R5).

Comment by GM Topov: I was hoping for a move like that - apparently Philip neglected to consider that anyone choosing Panama Canal in the game usually follows it with a reverse bluff! Normally after someone opts to pass following a Panama Canal move and use the community hope chest, it is typical to play the Knox Gambit with something like "Suez Canal". So playing Merion Station at this stage of the game weakens the third horizontal and opens the left reverse diagonal into Europe.

GM Topov: I will nicely take advantage of the open flank to perform a recentralizing shuffle maneoveur to control the seaways and playing the open "Suez Canal!". So, using the oblique biddle strategy perfected by German Grandmaster Adolf Punsch in the nineteenth century, I can make two consecutive moves, so I'll play: Suez Canal, followed immediately by the very threatening Dead Sea! That blocks anyone from playing "Red Sea" or countering with the Baltic defence! This is getting rather complex, especially if a player decides to declare a Mediterranean quest in the next three moves!

Mel: King's Cross!

Austin: Mornington Crescent! Phew - nearly missed that!

Comment by GM Topov: Most immediate players probably would miss the winning move at this point. Just prior to this game I was teaching an intermediate level student about the danger of making skewed eliptical moves. In this game that's exactly the trap I've fallen into by allowing a sudden Mornington Crescent via King's Cross! I mistakenly overlooked the fact that in this variation of Mornington Crescent, the diplomacy option allows either a reverse 1 or 2 after making a Palestine connection. A lesson well learned the hard way, that players need to study this carefully in their manuals so they can watch out for it in the next game of this type. I remember reading something about that in my dog eared copy of "The Art of Mornington Crescent: A Grandmaster's Secrets" by Tito Topolini. I have the fourth edition from 1927, and I seem to recall that he worked this out better in his fifth edition of 1932, which unfortunately I have not been able to acquire. I've always found the clockwise surround hard to master, especially when the triple is in effect, and it's especially then that you need to watch out for the skewed eliptical moves. Nonetheless, congratulations to Austin for a well-deserved win.

Grandmaster Gregory Topov

Posted Friday - 2004-11-27 - 18:56:32 EST
by Staff Reporter Verdra H. Ciretop in Toronto
All Rights Unreserved - Loof Lirpa Publishing
Text may be freely copied & redistributed

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