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The monumental Byplays is the most well-known work of E.A. Favisham. (Favisham's own title for the work was the idiosyncratically vague Some Characteristics of Sequences.) Favisham's play was characterised by long-range tactical sequences of twenty moves or more which appeared to disregard his opponent's moves and yet somehow prevented the opponent from ever reaching the winning station. Favisham left it to other masters of the game to explain the underlying principles of this method (which took at least thirty years to become well understood.)

Byplays assumes familiarity with this style, and concentrates on byplays: plays made during such a sequence which initiate a new threat while maintaining the coherence of the current sequence. Like most of Favisham's tactical innovations, the concept is somewhat abstract and difficult to grasp. The standard expository example – too well-known now to surprise modern players – is the use of Croxley? during a second-level encirclement of zone three as soon as the torsion coefficient has been raised above one, which initiates a co-rotating knid field in zone six.

Favisham exhausts simple byplays in the first three chapters (often published separately as a self-contained work, and there is a whole cottage industry of commentaries), and then proceeds to simultaneous sequences, where each move plays a role in two or more entirely independent strategic plans simultaneously, braided sequences, knotted sequences, and tangles. The diagrams therein are remarkably similar to those used by Richard Feynman (himself a distinguished amateur player) for analysing the interactions of fundamental physical particles. It is likely that more connections with modern physics remain to be discovered.


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Last edited April 7, 2007 6:54 pm by Simons Mith (diff)