The Koniggratz Freakout

by Edi Birsan

As with other openings that I have written on, this one is an outline for a course of action that the player  decides to try.  That is, this is not a prescription of the “best” or optimum opening for all occasions, but a specific solution to a tactical problem given a set of strategic perceptions and goals by the player.  With that in mind, let us proceed. 

The strategic setting is rather unusual.  For whatever his reasons, the German player is determined to attack Austria in 1901 to make sure that the Austrian plan is crippled from the start.  His partner is this obsession is Italy, who is also determined for whatever reasons to destroy Austria.  The initial correspondence indicates that B and B are going to square off in Scandinavia and that T may either hit B or come after Austria also.  But the French are uncommitted and are awaiting adjudication of the spring moves to make a further commitment to anyone.  The French have stated that they will definitely move to Bur with support and the Austrians are planning a traditional march down the Balkans with the movement of A Vie unknown. The problem: How to nail the Austrians by German and Italian co-operation. 

The first reaction of many people is to have the German play to Boh and the Italians move to Tyr and Ven for a crushing attack on Vie.  This would probably work except that the French will not exactly be deterred from walking into Munich.  You must remember that the French are free from commitments and will most likely react strongly to any German moves east, especially when co-ordinated with Italy.  The Germans will have to make- sure that France will stay on her side of the Rhine while at the same tine hurt the Austrians.  This, mind you, must be done so that if there are any great disasters on the first turn, the Germans will be able to react with some flexibility to any strategic realignment. 

Imagine the reaction of all players when they see that the Germans have moved A Mun-Tyr while the Italians have ordered to Pie and Ven.  The French cannot really afford to leave Mar open from what is “obviously” an Italian stab and will have to play A Mar-Spa and pull A Bur back to Mar as a covering force.  The Austrians see only one German Army in Tyr and the Italians committed against France.  The German player then writes to the Austrian player explaining that the move to Tyr was to hold the Italians off, whom the German player suspected of having a deal with the French for a supported attack on Mun in A01. Remember, A Par-Bur is supported, so that all German can block is the supposed A Ven-Tyr.  The German player than goes on to suggest that while he is in Tyr, what can he do to help Austria?  The Austrians may be a bit wary of the Germans and at most may be wary that the Italians might support the Germans into Tri.  But what the Austrian doesn’t know is the real direction of the G/I attack, so Austria might support himself in Tri hoping to stall them or pull back to cover Vie alone. 

Everyone will be shocked when the Italians pull into Tyr supported by their army in Venice and dislodge the German.  The Germans, who sneakily (and irrelevantly) support any suitable Austrian pieces have to retreat and have either Tri or Vie open for the retreat into the Austrian SC.  If thing have gone badly and the French have moved into Mun, then there is still little to be lost in claiming an Austrian SC anyway. 

The chances that the French will double cross the Germans and move to Munich is an assessment that the German player will have to make.  Under normal circumstances, the Germans can state outright that he is moving back to Mun in A01 and this will probably assure that the French will cover Mar. On the other hand if the French didn’t take Bur in S01 then Germany has little to lose by going ahead with the plan. 

Assuming that the ploy has worked, there are now three armies attacking Austria with one of her home centres gone.  The Italians are in Tyr & Ven, and Vie (most likely) or Tri have fallen to the Germans on a freaky retreat to victory.  The Germans can then turn most of the Austrian effort over to the Italians and go elsewhere.  The French are stuck with A Mar and two builds.  If they are to build a fleet at all, it has to be F Bre, with all the associated problems with England. 

Thus, by agreeing to have your ally dislodge your unit in A01, the Germans through this freakout have secured their basic goal of crippling the Austrians and have probably secured for themselves 3 builds and pulled the French out of position and established a thorn in the side of the furtherance of a French/English alliance. 

Reprinted from Hoosier Archives No.64