3rd Dec - Botswana (and Agricola)

A rather detailed session report from Matt:
Monday saw the final of the Horsham West December Open, always a popular event with the higher ranked West Sussex Botswana mind athletes. Three top ranked ludologists clashed in what is likely to be a strategic barometer for this weekend's Dubai Masters event. Clarke, Cox and Green faced off in an all English final table. By mutual consent the players played a game of Agricola with the Belgium deck to determine the start player in the first round with Cox edging Green out at the close in a move that later showed potent of Clarke deliberately leaving half his farm empty to lead off in the final round of the main event. Clarke remained tight-lipped as to whether this was a tactical move on his part.

Final scores: Steve 36, Matt 34, Garry 28

Botswana H(w)DO 12/2013
Round 1: Cox leading to Green then Clarke
(Standardised IBA notation follows)

1 Cox: 3Le - Le
2 Green: 0Li - Li
3 Clarke: 0R - R
4 Cox: 0Le - Le
5 Green: 1Li Li......

A classic two Lion opener from Green leaves the other players stranded with few options but consolidation from that point. Leading from the front can be risk in the post double leopard-bluff modern game but the shear power of the double lion just can't be underestimated if the opponents are out of position.

1st Exchange: Green 29/ Clarke 24/ Cox 27

The second exchange saw Cox marooned in Zebras whilst Clarke executed a delightful Rhino blitz play. The end game turning point of:

24 Cox 0Z - Z (?! - intending ....27 5Z)
25 Green 3R - E
26 Clarke 5R - Li *End*

which spelled disaster for Cox in play that would suffice at club level, ruthlessly punished in this company.

2nd Exchange: Clarke 30/ Green 26/ Cox 12

Defending a slim lead into the final exchange Green had control of the game with the capability to end on Leopards by being deep in the small cats with the 0,1,2,3 in hand. However he was foxed by a resurgent Cox opening gambit of:

2 Cox 4Le - R
3 Green 0Le - Le
4 Clarke 1E - E
5 Cox 5le - Li

leaving Green with 3 dead cards but wanting to run an increasingly obvious Leopard-based game plan. Forced into playing ...18 5E - E Green saw his lead slip away with Clarke finishing on a flourishing: 22 Clarke 5Li - Li for a perfect 35 point hand and the match win by a point.

3rd Exchange: Clarke 32/ Green 30/ Cox 27

Final scores:
Clarke 86
Green 85
Cox 66

Clarke achieving his 3rd Botswana GM Norm at this event, deservedly so. The competitors are likely to see action on the tables again in the East Horsham 2013 Invitational in January in what looks set to be a thrilling clash. 

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