Focus is a fantastic strategy board game for two players. All you need is a checkerboard and sixteen checkers of each color that can stack on top of one another; any good checkers set will have enough extra pieces to play the game.

Setting Up The Board
Set up the board as follows, with one side being black and the other being red, as this is the color scheme of many chess sets. A C represents a single checker.

```              black
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
| C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C |
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
| C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C |
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
| C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C |
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
| C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C |
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
red
```

Playing The Game
A turn consists of moving a single piece, and the players alternate turns, much like in checkers, chess, go, or shogi. The goal of the game is to control or have captured every piece on the board.

You do this through stacking, which means if you move your piece onto a square where there is another piece (whether your own or your opponent's piece), you place your checker on top of the other checker, making a "stack." You can also think of it in this way: each player starts the game with sixteen stacks of size one.

You can move a stack one square in any direction, horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. However, if a stack is two checkers high, you may make two moves with it; if it is three high, you may make three moves with it, and so forth. It should be noted that combinations are allowed; if you move a stack of size one on top of another stack of size one, then it gets another move that turn. It is this "combination" factor that adds a great deal of fun to the game.

When a stack reaches a height of more than five, the bottom pieces are removed from the game (i.e., captured) until the stack is five high. This is simply to prevent the inevitable conclusion of one piece being able to swallow all the pieces on the board roughly fifteen moves into the game.

The game is won when one player controls all of the stacks on the board. In the case of a stalemate, the winner is determined by the person who has the fewest pieces removed from the game. A stalemate happens when nothing is captured for twenty turns, which happens somewhat often in the late game. When players first start to gain some skill at the game (intermediate level players), there are usually a lot of stalemates, but stalemates are much more rare in games with advanced players.

Strategy
The most important fundamental strategy is to keep your pieces spread apart in the early game. A strong opening combination move often spells death for the novice player, so when you advance your pieces across the board, don't advance them in clumps. I usually advance four to five pieces, depending somewhat on what my opponent is up to, in the early game.

Also, watch carefully for any combination moves. You'll soon realize that combos often swing the balance of power on the board, so don't be afraid to sacrifice a small stack to set up a major combination capture.

Another important aspect is to carefully consider what stacks to capture in terms of the pieces. Ideally, you want to control stacks made mostly of your opponents' pieces; combining your own stacks might be useful for moving your own pieces about, but you're really playing with fire. Your opponent can make you pay dearly for such things if you're not careful.

Comments
This game is very elegant, much like the best abstract strategic board games are (like chess, Twixt, go, checkers, and shogi). The simple rules disguise a surprisingly deep strategic contest, which is the sign of a very good game.

This game was taught to me by an old friend, and we play it regularly whenever we see one another. It's a pleasant thinking game for a cold winter afternoon, sitting in front of a checkerboard with a warm cup of cider and a friend or two.