Mobility Part 2
Before you read this section, if you haven’t already, read part 1.
Although the amateur is using the same number and types of pieces as the advanced Stratego player did in the previous diagram, his position is significantly worse.
There is no coherence to his setup, since his pieces are so immobile that they cannot respond effectively to Blue’s impending assaults.
The bombs he has placed along the fourth row prevent his General from coming to the rescue in the Center, and his Marshall, although placed on d4, cannot even reach his Left Flank.
His Scouts are not placed in a mobile Scout Mill, so it will be difficult for Red to obtain any information about his opponent’s pieces without sacrificing higher-ranked pieces.
Blue could easily win a few pieces here simply by sending in his General or Marshall to b5 and employing probing techniques.
Even if Blue only sent his General, Red would have to sacrifice his Colonel in order to free up his Marshall to come to his Left Flank’s aid. Meanwhile, if Red advances his own General up the board on the Right Flank in order to counterattack, he has no readily-available Scouts with which to probe.
In short, Red would almost surely lose several pieces in short order against a more mobile Blue opponent.
How does one create mobility? Generally speaking, the trick is to simply to keep the fourth row as clear of clutter as possible. This means that in an opening setup, it is best to put expendable minor pieces in the fourth row.
Usually, Sergeants and Lieutenants are the best choices. Scouts should be saved for middlegame use in Scout Mills—they may also be valuable in the endgame, where they are free to move across the entire board quickly, searching out the enemy flag.
Miners, of course, should not be expended early either. So, one possible fourth rank setup would look like this:
Red envisions that after the minor pieces get exchanged off early for information or sent out into the channels of traffic in order to create tension (which we will discuss below), the fourth rank will become clear.
After the opening, the situation will look something like this:
Red has high mobility here. His Marshall can swing to any sector of the board at a moment’s notice, and his General can come quickly to either the Center or the Right Flank.
Assuming that his major pieces, flag, and Scouts are well-positioned, Red will be in excellent shape for the coming middlegame.