(Cerulean) Interestingly enough, according to the game statistics Aaron has put on the 'The Games' page, the first player has a poor record of winning, which is odd for a turn-based race game.
(xoet) I think the reason for that is when the game played with the diagonal in mind the turn structure becomes very recursive in nature and the unraveling of the recursions effectively is how the game is won.
The a1-h8 diagonal is very powerful, since it is the only 1-turn path from one side of the board to the other.
Impasse is AI-ready. If you have an algorithm for evaluating a given board position, go ahead and post your ideas.