The Livonian Lunacy

by Mark Berch

That’s right, I said F(StP)sc-Lvn. Madness you say? Perhaps, perhaps not. The situation here is that you are virtually certain that Germany will stand you out of Swe. Ideally, you also think that Germany will not do A(Ber)-Kie (perhaps A(Ber)-Sil), though this is not essential.

In the usual situation, F(GoB) and F( Den) eye each other nervously after S01. You can do one of two things. You can go for Swe anyway, hoping for the best. But if he does F(Den)-Swe, you’ve allowed Germany the double use of his fleet – for taking Den and standing you out of Swe. Or you could do F(GoB)-BAL. That’s terrible for Germany, but, unless Germany has serious problems elsewhere (unlikely if Germany is both a good player and, as above, virtually certain to go to Swe) it probably won’t get you a supply centre. The usual course is to threaten to go to BAL, either in A01 if firm promises are not tendered, or in S02 if the stand-off does occur. The problem is that the S02 move is easily blocked if a new fleet is raised, and the A01 threat is just not credible. The move is rarely done. From Germany’s point of view it’s not realistic to do F(Den)-BAL. F(GoB)-Swe is too tempting a choice for most Russians to pass up, he says to himself. And if F(Den)-BAL succeeds, I lose Den and Russia gets Swe. So the odds are high that Germany will ignore the A01 BAL threat, and will be prepared for it in S02.

But Lvn changes all of that. If you tell Germany that you will move F(Lvn)-BAL, he will pretty much have to believe you. What else could you have had in mind? Unlike F(GoB), there is no other tempting choice. If your move is blocked, then again Swe is open. If it isn’t blocked, then you are in BAL, much the same as the F(GoB)-BAL situation. The fun begins if he, moves to the BAL and you don’t. Then he’s not gained Den and if you went back to GoB, German F(BAL) may be out of the picture as far as Sweden is concerned, as he still needs to take Den. This move is particularly effective if you can couple it with A(Mos)-StP-Fin in 1901. Anyway, the point is that if you want to use the A01 BAL threat as a way to keep Germany out of Swe, then F(Lvn)-BAL is much more believable than F(GoB)-BAL.

Reprinted from Fall of Eagles No.60 (Sept. 1982)

[Stephen Agar: In The Numbers Game No.26, Richard Sharp reveals that F(StP)-GoB has been used 95.02% of the time out of 2,148 games for which openings are known. F(StP)-Fin has appeared 2.42% of the time, F(StP)Std 2.42% and F(StP)-Lvn 0.93%. Nearly all of the occurrences of the moves to Fin and Lvn happened in the late 70’s, early 80’s.]