THE CAMELOT ENDGAME
Until recently, there were few recorded games of Camelot available for study. Therefore, any thorough analysis of the Camelot endgame (as well as the opening and the middlegame) depends upon an increased level of game play. The recorded games on this website undoubtedly can provide some endgame ideas, but much further study is obviously needed.
Following are four brief thoughts on the Camelot endgame; the first, from the 1930s, is a description of three endings, the second is a magazine article from modern times, the third is an addendum to that article, and the fourth is another modern magazine article.
These three endgames first appeared in Camelot rule books published by Parker Brothers in 1930 and 1931.
White to move
(not 1...E13-F12?, 2.E9-E10! wins)
2.F10-F12XH14XJ12 D12XF10XD8 wins
White to move
White to move
(not 1.G10XI10XI12? D14-F14XH12XJ12 wins)
The following article was first published in 2001 in the magazine Abstract Games. Paul Yearout, its author, is one of the few expert Camelot players in the world. The article has been edited by Michael Nolan only to substitute official WCF notation for the abbreviated algebraic notation originally used by Dr. Yearout.
FIRST THOUGHTS ON CAMELOT END-PLAY
by Paul Yearout
When a piece has an unobstructed path toward the opposing castle, counting squares shows the number of moves needed to reach the goal. If each side has two such pieces, the game becomes a race, with counting, rather than moving, determining the winner.
Modifying the count is the two-can-travel-faster-than-one principle. Consider the position in Figure 1.
Seven moves are needed to castle both pieces. But shifting I4 to the symmetrical D4 reduces the number of moves to four. For two pieces traveling together, the most efficient lines are the two central files and the diagonals A7-G1 and L7-F1. Compared to the C5, D4 pair, pieces at D5, E4 or B5, C4 require five moves, and an A5, B4 pair uses up seven. So one should aim towards one of those four lines as early as possible. Pieces at E7 and C5, moving singly, require ten moves to castle. Moving C5 to D4 and E7 to E3 cuts that total to eight. But moving E7 to D4, by one of several paths, makes a further one move reduction.
Further modifying the count is the presence of opposing forces, even when they appear to be far outpaced by the attackers. Consider the position in Figure 2.
1....C5-E3 is followed by 2.G6-F5. Blithely continuing 2....D4-F2 allows 3.F5-E4 E3xE5, 4.C7-D6 E5xC7, adding four moves to the attackerís total. That might well be enough to convert the apparent win into a loss.
Turning to defense of the castle, consider Figure 3.
With the attacker to move, 1....I2-J3, followed by 2.G2-I2 allows a trade for a certain draw or further retreat. If the defender must move, 1.H2-F2 J2-H2 produces the same configuration, one space closer to the castle. Choosing 1.H2-G3 J2-H2, 2.G3-F2, the pieces occupy the same squares, but the attacker must move. 2....H2-J2, 3.F2-H2 places the attacker at the disadvantage previously mentioned, while 2....H2-I3, 3.F2-H2 I3-J2 produces a cycle of moves. [Editor's Note: This is a mistake in the analysis. 3.F2-H2 allows 2....I3xG1 with victory to quickly follow. Correct are either 3.F2-F3 or 3.F2-G3; both moves easily draw.] The position is a draw.
If the four men are replaced by four knights, the side to move first loses. Any move by the attacker loses at least one piece, after which the erstwhile defender cannot be prevented from a triumphal march to the opposite end of the board. The defenderís only choice is 1.H2-F2 J2-H2, 2.G2-E2 I2-G2, 3.F2-D2, G2-F1, with victory on the next move.
Intermediate mixtures of men and knights have various outcomes, depending both on the material and position. Consider the position in Figure 4.
The only defensive move is now 1.H2-F2. After 1...J2-H2, 2.G2-F3 I2-G2, 3.F3-E2 G2-F1 the attack has succeeded. There is the desperation move 4.F2-G3 H2xF4, 5.E2-F2. If there had been no provision for castle moves, the defense could maintain opposition for a draw. But 5....F1-G1 forces the defense to clear a path for F4 to reach the castle. Other possibilities, such as interchanging knight and man, are left to the reader. [Editor's Note: For a complete analysis of those possibilities, go here.]
Already a few middle-game questions can be asked: How early should one begin watching for certain material combinations? Before getting to end-play will there be stalling moves to provide the initiative later? Can unfavorable circumstances be reversed?
Observations about the castle-move rule
Consider the position in Figure 5, in which each player has used both castle moves.
The position is reminiscent of opposition at Chess, but these are not Chess kings. [Editor's note: For a discussion of the opposition in Camelot, go here.] In Camelot the attacker has the advantage, whoever has the move. The pairs of moves 1.G5-F5 G7-H6, or 1.G5-H5 G7-F6 allow the attacker to advance, with other moves by the defense being even worse.
The attacker on the move marches to the edge of the board, say to K7, with the defender following along to K5. But then 5....K7-L6 has gained one rank on the board. There follows 6.K5-K4 L6-L5, 7.K4-L4 (or 6.K5-L4 L6-K6, 7.L4-K4 K6-L5, 8.K4-L4, resulting in the same position either way). Now, 7....L5-L6 has reversed the opposition. The attacker guides the position back to the center of the board, choosing the right time to advance toward the castle as indicated above.
This position is extremely artificial, but it illustrates clearly the perceptiveness of the gameís creator in limiting the number of castle moves. Without such a limit, whether 2 (as stated), 30, or 100, either side could use a castle move as a stalling technique, and positions which can now be won would become draws. [Editor's Note: The limit of two castle moves per game was established by a 1931 change to the original (1930) Parker Brothers rules.]
The following article was first published in 2003 in the magazine Abstract Games. The article has been edited by Michael Nolan only to substitute official WCF notation for the abbreviated algebraic notation originally used by Dr. Yearout.
by Paul Yearout
In the initial look at Camelot end play, the two-can-travel-faster-than-one principle was mentioned. Positions in the current World Camelot Federation tournament suggest elaborations of that principle for efficient troop movements. [Editor's Note: The preceding sentence is a reference to the World Camelot Federation 2002-2003 Camelot World Championship Tournament.]
In Zigzag March 1 the four indicated pieces can advance four rows en masse, repeating a double canter of the rearmost pieces: F8-D10-F12, E9-G11-E11, and onward.
Zigzag March 1
A piece at A or B can be carried along, too, the platoon advancing four rows in five or six moves.
Zigzag March 2
Zigzag March 2 uses the same double canter (D8-D10-F12, D9-F11-F13), again in four moves advancing four rows, but diagonally rather than orthogonally. Shifting D8, D9 to F8, F9 provides diagonal movement leftward instead of rightward.
The Lambeth Walk uses a triple canter (E8-G10-E10-E12, F9-F11-D11-F13), yielding a vertical reflection in two moves, and restoring the original configuration in four. (The name shows a fancied resemblance of the move pattern to the Hebrew letter lambeth, a cognate of Greek lambda, influenced by an irrelevant pun on the Lambeth Walk, a 1930's dance fad.)
This arrangement has additional versatility in that Zigzag 2 shows up after the first move, so it is possible to alternate diagonal and orthogonal advances, as appropriate. A knight or two in the company increases its strength, but the open spacing of the three shapes makes them vulnerable to an opposing knight's charge.
Against opposing forces, a phalanx of four or six pieces cedes speed to power while still able to advance.