Dec 5, 2011


Game by Cameron Browne (2009)

12* moves & group restriction

Y play; the goal is to make a group connecting 3 non-adjacent sides.

The winner is whoever makes a Y;
or if no-one does, the player who first made a cross loses.

Game Sample

1:  -- i6   k4 k6
2:  l5 l7   j5 k8
3:  j7 o6   g6 n7
4:  f7 m6   h5 g8
5:  n3 i8   m4 p5
6:  o4 f7   n5 d7
7:  f9 h7   e6 s6
8:  k2 h9   h3 r5
9:  h1 r7   j1 m2
10: t7 i2   l3 p7
11: u6 c8   q6 d9
12: q8 n9   l9 p9
13: m8 q10  o8 p11
14: r9 e8   o10 a6
15: resign

: abcdefghijklmnopqrstu
:      . x o . . . 1
:     . . x x o . . 2
:    . . o . o x . . 3
:   . . . . o o x . . 4
:  . . x o o x o o o . 5
: O . o o x o x x o o x 6
:  . o x x x x o o x x 7
:   x x o x o x o x . 8
:    o x x . o x o x 9
:     . . . . . O x 10
:      . . . . . o 11
: abcdefghijklmnopqrstu

Jul 27, 2011


As FIDE Progressive Chess except:

Each player makes from 1 to the turn number, of moves, subject to
the condition that any capture, check or promotion ends the series.

Sample Game

     1. e4
     2. e6 Be7
     3. Qg4 Qg5 Q:e7+
     4. N:e7
     5. e4 Nf3e5c6:d8
     6. f5f4 O-O d6 Nc6:d8
     7. Bb5 Bd7 a4 b3 c4 f3 B:c8
     8. Na6b4 a5 c5 g5 h5h4 R:c8
     9. g4 h3 d5 Rh2 Rc3 Raa2 Bd2 B:b4
    10. b6 e5 Kf7 Rc7 Re8e7 c:b4
    11. c5 Rc4 Rac2 Kd3 c:b6
    12. Rb7 Rec7c5 Ke7 Ne6d4e2g1:h3
    13. N....h3
    14. Rb8 K..b7 Rbc8 R:c4
    15. K..b2 Rc1 b:c4
    16. K:b6
    17. Nf2 R...h3 Kb3 N...e7 N:c8+
    18. K..:c8
    19. c567 K...c6 R...b8++
Final Position:

. . k . . . . .
. . O . . . . .
. . K p . . . .
p . . O p . p .
O p . . O p O p
. . . . . O . R
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .

Jul 11, 2011


Played on an 8x8 board, each player starts with two stones, at opposite corners.  
Group-restricted 12* moves per turn.

For each move, a player removes the tail of one of his groups, then adds two successive rookwise-adjacent new stones on empty cells at the head of it.

A player loses if he cannot complete a legal turn.

The first moves (the '-' clarifies the chain structure):

                       _J___N_    _B___T_
. . . . . . . .    1. es   --    ee   ss
. j-j . . . . ,    2. es   nw    nn   ww
. . J . . T-t-t    3.
. . . . . . . .    4.
. . . . . . . .    5.
. . B . . . . .    6.
. . b . . . N-n    7.
. , b . . . . .    8.

and the entire game:
                       _J__N_    _B__T_
. . t-t-t-t-t-t    1. es  --    ee  ss
. . t . . ,-t-t    2. es  nw    nn  ww
. T-t . . . . n    3. se  wn    en  ww
. N-n-n-n-n . n    4. es  nn    ww  ne
b-b-b . . n-n-n    5. ss  en    ss  ee
b . B . . J-j-j    6. ws  es    es  en
b b-b j-j . . j    7. ee  sw    ww  ww
b-b-b j-j-j-j-j    8. ee  wn    nn  ww
                   9. nn  ww    ne  ws
                   10. ww  ww    es  sw
                   11. resign

A better variant uses double removal and triple growth for faster moves (and a 10x10 board)

A game example:
     _J____N_   _B____T_
1.  wws  ---   sss  nww
2.  ssw  enn   eee  wnn
3.  wss  nee   sse  nne
4.  sss  sww   nnn  sss
5.  eee  nnn   www  een
6.  sww  wne   nee  wnn
7.  wwn  ees   ees  www
8.  www  ese   ene  nee
9.  wnn  sww   see  ees
10.  nnn  see   nnw  sss
11.  nnn  ees   www  swn
12.  ese  swn   wss  nww
13.  ess  wsw   ssw  nee
14.  wss  nws   ses  nnw
15.  sww  wnw   enn  nee
16.  nen  swn   nen  sss
17.  wne  nee   wne  sss
18.  nwn  eee   nes  swn
19.  nws  ees   resign

Final Board:
j-j . . b-. b-b . B  1
j J j-j b b-b-b-b-b  2
j-j . j b b-b t-t-t  3
j-j j-j b b-b t-t t  4
j-j j b-b b . . t t  5
j-j j b-b b t-t-t t  6
j-j-j . b-b t T-t t  7
n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n t t  8
n n-n n-n n-. N t t  9
n-n n-n n-n . . t-t 10

This game was inspired by the light motorcyles from the TRON movies.

Jun 6, 2011

On Natural & Artificial Games

Can we use the terms natural/artificial for games, in general?

One way to look at this is to relate naturalness to simplicity. Simple games like Hex, Tic Tac Toe or, perhaps, Go, seem almost like discoveries, rather than inventions. But the fact that Hex was only "discovered" in the 1940s does give us pause to ponder. Simplicity is culturally dependent, just as are more obvious or trivial things - e.g. the positional numerical system, or the moral statement "slavery is wrong" -- which were not so in the past.

Another way to look at this is using History. Games, or game concepts, that seem to be invented independently are, at least, cognitively attractive to humans. Perhaps they are cognitively attractive to conscious beings in general, and so, they may even exist in alien cultures. Some examples of those are race games, or Tic Tac Toe/Gomoku variants. Possibly, seed games, Mancalas, also belong here. So, a natural game would be an instance of one of these archetypal game concepts. Of course, as usual, the frontier is blurred. Bao is a very complicated Mancala game. Overly baroque variants can hardly be seen as natural. Shall we include Checkers/Alquerque or Chess games? And how many add-ons can a game include and still be considered a natural one?

A third way to try to make sense of this separation between natural and artificial, is to look into the game's history.

Games like Chess, Go, Mancala and Checkers have evolved through centuries, absorbing gaming experience into their progressive adaptable rules. As in biological natural selection, these games are more like species, with their life trees,
their historical compromises, their multiple branches (cultural instead of biological). So, in this case, every game started in one or more human minds, in some raw artificial state, and was tested in a social environment. Like most species, most games must have become extinct quite quickly. But a few were able to adapt to the cultural intricacies of the memetic landscape of its inventors. And then, when society changed, games also changed, like any adaptable, flexible population of organisms. Of course, the analogy only goes so far. Unlike fossils, if they are rediscovered, games can be brought back and enjoy a new life eventually under new clothes. (The Game of Ur, and Senet, with their reconstructed rules, are famous examples).

Just as for the concept of species, we might differ our final judgement about our recent games. Perhaps Hex will have a biography (it already has thriving children, like Y). Game inventors, nowadays, have an immense set of game ideas and, like alchemists, they try to mix them, mould them into new games. Most of those, as in the past, will become extinct and never get beyond being artificial concepts. Others, because they say something to generations of players, will be carried along with our evolving society and will start to have a biography. They will, slowly and in unexpected ways, become natural concepts.

[also posted in]

Jun 1, 2011

Two Games for Three Players

Here are a couple of games to be played with three players:

Triad by Cameron Browne

Rules can be checked here.

An older game is Atride by Gauthier Fourcade:

More info can be read here (in French).

May 27, 2011

Board Games Studies 2011

This year edition of BGS happened in Brugge, Belgium. The meeting was held at the KHBO-Spellenarchief. The game archive has several thousand board games and has a database (in Dutch) which is being slowly uploaded with game information and, hopefully, game rules. Here are some pictures from their public section:

And here is a panoramic view (as usual, click to enlarge):

Lots of thousands of games were donated by the Dutch game collector and inventor, Fred Horn, who still collaborates with the Museum. Here is a picture of him (the middle guy, talking math & games with Jorge Nuno and Carlos Santos, two Portuguese friends):

Irving Finkel presented "On to Square Two – the question of dissemination" talking about how games travel between cultures. This travel is useful for game survival but has also the problem of game contamination. Some games may even replace and destroy old games. For a game Historian the modern waves of European migration (like colonists or missionaries) to the rest of the world meant terrible news.

In the colloquium a participant (I don't recall his name...) presented a rediscovered picture from an old book, picturing Adam & Eve in the garden of Eden. Some say they are playing a board game (I saw just them picking and eating grapes or something like that...). Anyway, the picture is pretty:

Michel Boutin made a nice presentation called "The structure of games" were he made an historical perspective of how games were classified in the past.

May 22, 2011


Anyone knows Dutch German?

[Feb 2013] Fred Horn was kind enough to translate the rules:


A Tactical Game for 2 Persons from 8 years on, with both two Knights and nine Squires.

Aim of the Game is to get your Knight occupying the Opponents Knights’ start-position; or tocapture the Opponents’ Knight by jumping over or in the same way capture all Opponents Squires.

The two Knights (Balls) start, at the beginning of the Game, on their same colored Field (Cirkle), the nine escorting Squires start on the 9 surrounding yellow Fields (Cirkles).
Players draw who begins and then Turns go alternately by moving in his Turn one Piece of the Players’ color. Moving goes in all directions, including diagonal.
A move is only to a next, free adjacent Field (Cirkle).
When it is a Players’ Turn and an Opponents’ Piece is adjacent to one of his Pieces and the Field (Cirkle) behind is empty, The Player MUST in this Turn jump over the Opponents’ Piece.
This Piece is captured and removed from the Board.
Does the Players have more than one opportunity to jump he is free to choose which capture he wants to make.
Only one Piece can jumped over and it is not allowed to jump over your own Pieces.
Knights can move or jump to all Fields –a color does not count-, but Squires are only allowed to occupy their own yellow Fields(Cirkles)-their start-position- or the grey Fields(Cirkles) =No-Mans-Land=. The Squires may jump over an Opponents’ yellow Edge only, when after the jump they occupy a grey Field (Cirkle).

Winning is by 
  1. capture of the Opponents’ Knight; 
  2. capture of all Opponents’ Squires or 
  3. moving the own Knight on to the start-position of the Opponents’ Knight.
Translated from German to English by Fred Horn 12/02/2013

May 21, 2011


A Bavarian game from early 20th century (click to enlarge):

May 20, 2011


A 1887 game from George Parker (click to enlarge):