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Naccel -- post #6 (midpoint formations)

Posted By: Nack Ballard
Date: Thursday, 21 January 2010, at 6:57 p.m.

Welcome to "Post #6," the ninth of the Naccel 2 series.

For review, click on the following:

The basic squads you have learned thus far are the six-stack (post #2, second diagram), triplet and pair (post #4x).

There are also shift-variants of the above squads, some of which you've seen (various six-syms and the wedge), but we'll put those aside for now.

Today, we'll look at another basic squad called the "block." Whereas the others mentioned above use six, three or two checkers, this squad uses four:

Position with two Blocks14(2)

The block just to the right of the Naccel 0pt (trad 6pt) arises after Blue plays a standard opening 61.

To count a block -- or indeed any two points on the board -- add together the point numbers and divide by 3. The near-side block occupies the (Naccel) 1pt and 2pt, so: 1 + 2 = 3, divided by 3, gives you a count of 1.

The block on the other side of the board, formed by the four back checkers, is on the 16pt and 17pt. Summing these point numbers gives you 33, and dividing by 3 gives you 11. (Btw, blocks always generate odd-numbered counts.)

[An alternate counting method for blocks: Count three checkers as being on the nearest Super and the other as being on the second nearest Super. So, here, the near block counts (0 x 3) + 1 = 1, and the far block counts (3 x 3) + 2 = 11.]

As always, the 0pt checkers are invisible. Blue's entire position counts 11 + 1 for the blocks, plus 2(2) for the mid, for a total of 14(2).

Next, let's have a look at some useful ways to combine two checkers on the midpoint with a near side point:

To reach the next formation, we will "zig" (move forward) the near-side point 3 pips. Two checkers times 3 pips is a total of 6 pips, or one supe, which means the overall count of 4 is reduced below by 1, to 3:

You can also count a zig in the same way you count a block (or any two points): add the point numbers and divide by 3. So, here (7+2)/3 = 3.

This zig is a combination of a stripped midpoint and stripped 2pt (trad 8pt). Also, as early as the opening roll, a double zig occurs when an opening 5 is brought down, creating a stack of four checkers on each point; the entire right side then counts 6.

Note that if you "hop" the two midpoint checkers down to the (Naccel) 1pt, you end up with the near-side block in the first diagram of this post. That block counts 1, and adding the 2 hops imagined here gives you a count of 3.

Let's zig the front point again, thereby further reducing the count by 1:

An easy way to reconcile this count of 2 is to hop the two midpoint checkers (+2) to the bar point, creating a little poof. Another way is to shift the midpoint to S1 (count of 2) and the -1pt to S0 (count of 0).

If you're good at visualizing, try this: After playing 31 (making the above near-side point) from the opening position, and ignoring the two back checkers on S3, you basically end up with a combination of the last two diagrams. The -1pt (trad 5pt) and 2pt (trad 8pt) each have two checkers; these can be coupled off with four (of the five) checkers on the midpoint, for a +2 diag and a +3 zig.

Let's zig the front point forward one last time:

If you shift the two low points outwards, so that Blue instead owns the -5pt (trad 1pt) and -2pt (trad 4pt), that is also a midpoof, though it doesn't tend to arise as frequently in practice.

Commit the diagrammed midpoof to memory, and you will encounter it often in your Naccel adventures. We'll even have a chance to use the midpoof later in this post.

Now we'll look at midpoint formations on the far side of the board.

Okay, let's zig (move forward) the back point, reducing the count by 1:

Midgold comes up a lot, so you would do well to remember that its count is 7. We'll even have a chance to apply midgold later in this post.

Let's zig the back checkers forward again, but we'll skip over the next spot because Opp typically occupies her 2pt (trad 8pt). Instead we'll zig twice, reducing the count from 7 to 5. Can you visualize the resulting formation, and what is another way to count it (other than 7 - 2)? Answer below.

I call this block "midblock," because it contains the midpoint. To count it, sum its point numbers 8 + 7 and divide by 3, for a count of 5.

When you have four (or more) checkers on the midpoint and you need a back 2-pip countershift, the midblock is very handy.

Let's look at Lucky Jim's most recent submission:

Poof, and Midgold7

First, let's count Blue.

That leaves the far side. Aha, "midgold" = 7; that's Blue's entire count!

Let's repeat the diagram with point numbering from White's perspective:

You need count only the six checkers on the top right. This is simply a six-stack on the (Naccel) 2pt plus 1 pip. White's entire count is 2(1).

Next position?

Nack

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