In this context, the blocks presence is the conceptualisation of unevenness of the ground (mountains, fissures...), and the commandant-in-chief (that we are !) must take it into account. It is as more interesting as the computer-opponent is more easy to beat in uneven ground ! (The minimax and Alpha-béta algorithms are less effective, because they badly manage the occupation of some ground parts).
Lightened by these considerations, it is not astonishing to notice that the Ataxx birth is very different of the Reversi one, board game beginning at the end of the XIXth century, in England.