Column strengths vary, and it is important to bear this in mind when deciding which of your opponent’s pieces to attack, or conversely which of your own pieces to defend.
Of these two white columns the left-hand one is by far the stronger. Black has only to leap the right-hand one once to release a powerful five-man column, and White would do well to keep it near the edge of the board protected by an officer.
Guarding a weak column
A good arrangement for guarding a weak column is to use an officer as a guard, as shown below:
The officer prevents a black piece from sacrificing itself to lure the weak column into the centre of the board:
This ties up two white pieces, obviously not a good idea. A better policy is to avoid forming weak columns by spreading the capturing between several pieces.
For example, here White has a choice of captures. All other things being equal c1 is the best piece to attack with. Columns, such as the left-hand one shown at the top of this page, are extremely powerful as they have several lives. Indeed it may sometimes be advantageous to sacrifice several men to your opponent with the ultimate aim of recapturing them as a single powerful column.