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05.02.2008 // Andrey Lukov
In this article, we continue talking to Andrey Lukov (Unbound) - the winner of the first online Battle Chess tournament "First Winter 2007" The theory of the initial setup in the Battle Chess (BC) is still to be developed, but I (like, evidently, anybody who tried to play BC) have formulated some of the most evident rules. I would like to cite them here.

As during the initial setup nobody knows whose move will be first, the first and foremost requirement to the initial setup (IS) is that your pieces should be unreachable for the your opponent's less valuable pieces. Let's divide this into several subrules:
  1. All pieces should be unreachable for enemy's pawns, so one shouldn't place their pieces (neither light nor heavy) into the front rank.
  2. Heavy pieces should be unreachable for the opponent's light pieces. This means that one should keep their rooks and queen covered diagonally from the opponent's bishops with pawns or light pieces. There is one intricate issue here: if your opponent breaks Rule 1 and places a knight into the front rank, than it is potentially dangerous to place your heavy pieces anywhere except rear rank.
  3. The queen should be unreachable for the opponent's rooks. This means that one should cover it vertically with less valuable pieces, and, considering the nuance in Rule 2, the best place for a queen is the rear rank.
  4. As for the pawns, I should say that their role in making the IS impregnable is quite evident - they should cover the pieces and king's position from potential danger. One should pay close attention to placing the front row pawns. It is easy to see that a pawn in the front rank can be attacked by the opponent's two pawns and all his other pieces. This leads to the idea that pawns should be placed one rank behind and covered with one another. By following these rules we will get an IS which allows us to relax - we won't lose anything after the opponent's first move. Why then haven't I seen such an IS while playing on the web site and have never used it myself?
The problem is that this position is absolutely passive. OK, we won't lose any pieces within the first move, but we can easily get under a massive pawn attack and get into a tight position which is totally unsuitable to gain victory (or a draw) even if we lose no pieces - especially if the opponent is using a more aggressive and risky setup scheme.

Thus, we came to the idea that we should observe both the IS security principle and the activity principle: if the rules allow us to place pieces wherever we want, let's put them to active positions!

Of course we should remember that by adopting an aggressive stance we take risks and, in a way, count on luck unlike a defensive one.

Here are the elements of an aggressive IS:
  1. Placing several pawns on the front rank to strike through the opponent's first line or arrange a massive pawn attack. Here we risk our own pawn chain to be penetrated if the opponent has put his pawns equally aggressive and he is the first to move.
  2. Placing two (or three) heavy pieces on an open file. Here we hope that the opponent has something unprotected at the same file or, even better, that our battery will be placed against the position of the king. The risk of the opponent's first move is that the first piece in this battery can be destroyed by a knight from the opponent's first rank or the opponent can place a similar battery in front of ours (to protect ourselves from this we should cover the first rook in the battery).
  3. Placing two bishops or two bishops and the queen together diagonally from the opponent's formation. Here we are exploiting the same hope that our opponent left some pieces undefended on the diagonal. Here the danger is less, we just need to protect the first bishop. However, I don't like the idea of playing with both bishops on squares of one color - the fields colored differently can be weakened though it should not be evident right away.
  4. Putting a knight (or knights) in the first rank is a very risky move! We are trying to hit something important (as a rule, a more valuable battle piece) in the opponent's third rank, but risking losing the knight right away. I think loosing the knight is much more probable than taking a higher value piece (not mentioning the queen) at once. On the basis of the above said we can conclude that the philosopher's stone of the IS is to be found in a sensible compromise between striving to protect the position and using its attacking possibilities.

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