Quoridor strategies

Openings

Move your pawn forward three times unless blocked.

If you go first, assuming both you and your opponent moved your pawn forward three times, place a fence behind your pawn on your fourth move.

Paths

The first thing to understand about Quoridor is that it’s a metaphor for life.

Many people think that keeping your options open is always a good thing.

But if you pursue that strategy you may never get to the finish line – in anything.

In Quoridor the winning mid-game strategy is to minimize your paths to the goal while maximizing your opponents paths to his or her goal.

Then, when the opponent commits to one path while having other paths, you cut off the committed path and force your opponent to take a less optimal path.

Make it a habit before moving to determine how many paths you and your opponent have. This is the path count. If your path count is higher, make a move that lowers yours and/or increases your opponent’s.

BTW you might have observed that I commit this sin in my life by looking at my Welcome page. Ugh.

The race

Before you move, figure out how many moves you and your opponent need to get to the goal. The number of moves to get to goal is the race count.

If you’re ahead you’ll want to protect your path from encumbrance and/or ensure your alternative paths are cut off. If you’re behind you’ll want to encumber your opponent or add more paths for him or her.

Tempo

Say it’s your move and you want to block an opponent’s path before the opponent can block your path. If you can block one of your alternate paths in two moves and your opponent can block one of his or her alternate paths in two or more moves, you have the tempo.

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Before you move always determine who’s got tempo. Hint: When your opponent moves fast, you should slow down and figure out what your opponent is trying to do. It’s usually an attempt to block your most-favored path. Don’t let your opponent do that. And when you’re trying to do the same thing don’t play faster or you’ll tip off your opponent to pay closer attention.

Encumbrance

Encumbrance is placing a fence to lengthen your opponent’s path, which is an effective strategy in the end game.

Be careful to maximally encumber. When your fence placement adds 5 or more to your opponent’s race count, that’s a maximal encumbrance.

Summary

In general don’t put down a fence if your pawn move won’t be wasted.

Put another way, don’t move your pawn if it’ll be wasted.

Determine race count, path count, tempo, and # of fences, and know your goal before moving.

Feedback

Have ideas for great Quoridor strategies? Please share them.

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