The most important strategical concept in the glass bead game is a house. A house is a pit with enough beads to go all around the board and enter the opponent's pits a second time. For reasons yet to be explained, a house is always build in a player's rightmost cup.

a houseIt's north's turn. He has made some minor captures, but south has a house. If north moves pit e south will move pit D, dropping the thirteenth bead in the house and after north d, south C and north e, south will be able to sow a house of 14, the maximum available.

a houseLet's assume north doesn't like this scenario and moves pit d. South now moves C2 and north must empty his last pit. He moves e00521 and we're in the diagram shown.
The house holds 13 beads, which means it is aimed at pit d.

a houseA direct capture might look like this.
South moved E5431100000000. He makes a direct multiple capture of four gems worth 13 points and threathens a further indirect capture with pit D, now aimed at north b. Could he have done better?

a houseConsider the following indirect capture: E0000511340000.
This indirect multiple capture entitles south to choose four gems from north's pits and to proceed choosing from his cup if these contain an insufficient number. In this case this means south must satisfy himself with the three beads indicated. He now has 12 points, but north has none! This obviously is better than the direct capture.

a houseDefense against a house
In order to be effective, a house must be aimed at empty pits. Houses may fail against a good defense. Consider the diagram.
With south to move, he has no other option than a single direct or indirect capture in pit e, the one the house is aimed at.
There's no possibility for a multiple capture because after the move pit d will contain three beads, breaking the sequence necessary for a multiple capture.
With north to move the situation is even worse for south: north's only option, d2, defends pit e against the house, so south must either sow it without making a capture, or overfeed it to impotence.

tempoIt will be clear that tempo plays an important role here, there and everywhere in the game. This is an illustration of the main principle involved. It concerns a question that you'll find yourself asking time and again: how many moves can I make inside my own pits so that I don't have to feed my opponent (which would provide him with more tempo).
In this example you'll find the answer to be 14. To do so, start with pit D and proceed by taking the rightmost pit of the set A to D each time.
If, on the other hand, you were to start with pit A, this would simultaneously mark the end of it!

This admittedly blunt example nevertheless illustrates basics. All other considerations and refinements of strategy and tactics revolve around it and interact with it. A player may speed up the game by moving pits on the left, or slow down moving pits on the right, and the reasons may be strategical, building a house, or tactical, like having to move a pit to avoid immediate capture.

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