Cal's Currajong: Life Lesson

Brain games like sprouts harbor life lessons. Not surprisingly, since natural selection has made life itself a brain game, at least for us higher primates.

Today's sprouts-derived life lesson: plans are powerful tools. A good plan can get you a boat, a fish, a woman, or even a sprouts win.

ANALYSIS (Find a shrink.) So much for philosophy. The plan I am now going to give you is for the 11-dot game. This plan is so good that it works on opposite day as well as it does for normal sprouts!

11+ or 11- 1(12)1[2-6] I'm an old dog but I'm not averse to learning a new trick. After my recent experience analyzing 10 dots, I will no longer shy away from the 5-dot flipflop.

This is the position, now here is the plan. We have two 5-dot flipflops. Player1's plan is to derive an even number of isolani from each of these 5-dot flipflops and at least one trap from one of them. (An even number of isolani, because the warmonger wants to shake things up, and we started with an odd number of dots.) Player2 will then be required to step into a fatal trap.

Let's see the plan in action!

11+ or 11- (Imaginary Game 1) 1(12)1[2-6] 2(13)3 1(14)12[2,4] So far so good. The first 5-dot flipflop has produced two inevitable isolani and a 2-dot trap. 7(15)8 Similar tries fail similarly. 7(16)7[9,10] Player1 has set his bear traps and Player2 is fated to lose a foot. Player2's trickiest try is to step in voluntarily. 9(17)10 The best try, but it simply converts one sort of trap into another, a double flipflop.

So let's leave it here, a final position with two traps plus two isolani. That smells like victory.

11+ or 11- (Imaginary Game 2) 1(12)1[2-6] 2(13)2[3,4] 1(14)12[5] Etc.

One more, this one smacking of treachery...

11+ or 1- (Imaginary Game 3) 1(12)1[2-6] 1(13)2 12(14)13[2]! Keeping it clean. Four isolani from this side. 7(15)7 Okay, okay, with this empty head Player2 has made me out a liar. There is nary a trap to be seen. But Player2 performed this impressive feat by short-circuiting to an obvious flipflop, and Player1 will nail it down immediately. (But, on nonopposite day, not 7(16)7[8,9]?. Those aren't traps!)

--Cal Hudson, First World Champion of Sprouts

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