Dan Troyka created the abstract strategy board game, Breakthrough, in 2000. This game emerged victorious in the 2001 8×8 Game Design Competition. Although it bears some resemblance to Checkers, the game’s strategy is wholly distinct.
Why did I include this game in a chess blog? Not only is Breakthrough a great and fun game, but the strategy is also close to a technique called the Pawn Break. So, if you become an advanced Breakthrough player, you would strengthen your tactical skills in Chess as well.
The following diagram shows the start position:
Right, nothing but pawns on both sides. But these pawns are different:
- Move: A pawn can move one square forward, straight or diagonally.
- Capture: A pawn can capture an opponent’s pawn one square diagonally forward.
Take a look at this situation below:
- The white pawn at e2 can move to d3, e3, or f3.
- The white pawn at d4 can move to c5 or e5, but cannot move to d5.
- The white pawn at c4 can move to b5 or c5, and can capture the black pawn at d5.
The game ends if one player reaches the opponent’s home rank (first or eighth). At the position below, Black won:
It is also important to note that captures are not mandatory. Even if a player can capture the opponent’s piece, they are allowed to choose any other valid move instead.
Since we mentioned the resemblance with the chess pawn tactic, let’s see the position from the linked article (with no kings, of course):
In Breakthrough, White wins by moving any pawn one space forward. Black will be forced to capture this pawn, and create a hole in the defense as a consequence:
Now, the white pawn at c6 is unstoppable, as it can reach the final rank through b7. Black doesn’t have any pawns left on the base rank to stop it.