Sep 16, 2013

Three Games with the material of the game COM:POSITIE

[Fred Horn words]

In june 2013 Mr. Han Heidema, a friend but also the ‘editor in chief’ of the Dutch game-magazine SPEL!, called me and asked if I had ever heard of the game COM:POSITIE. He had found one at a church-fair, but without Rules and only a Box with board and gamepieces.  

He thought it was some abstract game and that is why he called me. Curious, I tried to find out more about the game, so I phoned the firm COMPANEN. In their archive they still had 2 games and they were willing to give me one for the Games-Archive in Brugge. Han did pick up the game so he was able to make a copy of the Rules and afterwards handed it over to me. The game itself turned out to be a simple Trivia-game and the beautiful Board and Pieces were only used for a Tic-Tac-Toe-like counting system to get the winner. When Han gave me the game for Brugge he challenged me by saying: “You can do better, this is really something for you to invent an abstract game with these materials”. Do not say such things to me, because that absolutely triggers me to really go to work on the thing. And here is the result: 2 NIM-like games and 1 Strategic game (all games © Fred Horn  1 september 2013)

The material is a 6x6 square game board and a set of game pieces:


a NIM-game for 2 or 3 Players 

The method of play is a bit similar to a former game of mine: PLANKO from 20/3/2007. This is played on a GO-board and in his Turn a Player places 2 of his Stones on 2 adjacent ‘crossings’. These stones control the direct surrounding ‘crossings’ where it is further not allowed to place stones. The aim of this game is completely different à To control most ‘crossings’.

The Game Plan-A-Head starts with an empty Board.
All Game-pieces are sorted out in selections of 4 different colored Pieces: in total 9 selections.
Selection after selection must be played.

In his Turn a Player takes 1 Piece (if there are 4 he can choose any he wants; if there are 3 too; etc. ; the last one of a selection MUST be taken) and places it anywhere to his wish on the Board, except that: a Piece cannot be placed adjacent ( horizontal, vertical or diagonal) to an already placed Piece on the Board with the same color.

If played with 2 Players:
After a selection has been played the Player, who has played the last Piece of that selection, starts with the next selection.

If played with 3 Players:
Turns go clockwise and remain so after a selection has been played.

Player who can play the last Piece according to the Rules, WINS.

PICK Tw=O=ne 

The Game starts with a filled Board.      

Turns alternate.
In his Turn a Player MUST take at least ONE Piece from the Board.
Out of  a straight line ( rows; columns; diagonals; but also for example a1,b3,c5 form a straight line holding 3 Pieces) with:
  • Pieces in 3 colors or more than 3 colors in that line  the Player can take in his Turn 1 or 2 Pieces (of any color) out of that line and removes it/them from the Board.
  • Pieces in 2 colors in that line the Player can take only 1 Piece out of this line and removes it from the Board.
  • Piece(s) with only 1 color in that line stay put and cannot be removed.

N.B.: A Piece can be on the crossing of two lines (or three or even four) and must stay put on one. If  another line allows taking the Piece, this can be done!
N.B.: The Start-setup may be changed according to the Players wishes.

The Player who can take the last Piece from the Board, according to the Rules, WINS.


This Game is based on “an idea for a way of capturing” that I has been dragging along with me for some tenth of years:

“How can I use the way CANNONS capture in Chinese-Chess for a Game of mine?”

And within “a Flash of Inspiration” triggered by these materials of COM:POSITIE I think I do have a nice solution.

Both Players devide the Pieces in 2 sets of 18 Pieces in 2 colors
Player 1 gets the Red and Blue Pieces.
Player 2 gets  the Green and Yellow Pieces.
The Board is placed on the Table between the 2 Players.
Each Player now ‘lines up’ secretly a start-situation with his Pieces on the first 2 Rows on his side of the Board. 
N.B.: A screen may be placed in between on the middle of the Board, to be sure the opponent cannot see the other Players line-up. Remove the screen when starting play.
The 9 not used Pieces for the line-up became ‘Reserves’, to be used during play.

Aim of the Game:
To be the first Player with 6 of his Pieces placed on his last Row: or reducing the number of the opponents Pieces on the Board to less than 6.


Turns alternate.
In his Turn a Player MUST move one of his Pieces.
A Piece can move only forward (straight or diagonal) or sideways (left or right) ONE step to an empty square.
After moving (and only after that) a Piece may (this is optional, the Player can choose for not capturing) capture an opponent Piece.
Order of capture is: 
Red à captures Green à captures Blue à captures Yellow à captures Red  à captures Green,  etc..
Capture is ALWAYS through re=placement in a straight line  (horizontal; vertical; diagonal; forward as well as backwards or sideways) crossing, if there are, empty squares, BUT only One Piece of the other color of the Player has to be in between.

Next to each other, after Red’s move, are a Red, a Blue and a Green Piece, in that order.
Red can now decide to capture the Green. He removes the Green from the Board and places his Red Piece on that square.

Only        a) moving 1 Piece
or            b) a capture,
ends a Players Turn and the other Player is on.

When one of his Pieces has been captured and removed from the Board, the next Player must start his Turn (before moving) by placing one of his ‘Reserves’ on his first Row, if there is an empty square and if the Player still owns ‘Reserves’. If not, he continues his Turn by moving one of his Pieces.

The first Player with 6 of his Pieces on his last Row, WINS the Game.
A Player can also WIN when his opponent has less than 6 Pieces on the Board.

Sep 9, 2013


[Fred Horn words]

In the late seventies of the last Century I did start to invent Games more organized. I took some Idea and looked at Material which I possessed and then tried to make a Game out of it. This Game was concocted in that way and I wanted a game:
1) where capturing was not an advantage
2) with simple Rules and Goal
3) which could be played with the 30 (black and white) cone-shaped pointed-caps I had bought
4) where advantage in tempo should give a winning strategy.

Out of these conditions later I also developed my game FIANCO, which was published in Hans van Maanen’s book “Geen wolf en zeven geitjes” , and now-a-days in a by myself published version with plastic bottle-caps as pawns.

The game is played on a 7x7 square board, where each player has 14 stones occupying their respective first two columns.

The goal is to get as much Pawns as possible upon your ‘end-row’.

  • White begins, then Turns alternate. 
  • In his Turn a Player must move one of his Pawns or ‘controled’ piles. 
  •   A Pawn or a pile can move forwards or sideways (but cannot be moved backwards) crossing not occupied squares in a straight line. 
  •   A single Pawn can be moved 1; 2; or 3 squares. 
  •   A pile of 2 Pawns can be moved 1; or 2 squares. 
  •   A pile of 3 or more Pawns can only move 1 square. 
  • When the square to end on is occupied by a Pawn or a pile of Pawns, the Player’s Turn ends by lifting his played Pawn or pile from the board and putting it over the now ‘captured’ Pawn or pile. The color of the Pawn on top indicates the Player that ‘controls’ it and can move this pile. 
  •    N.B. A Player is allowed to ‘capture’ own Pawns and ‘controled’ piles.
  • When reaching the opposite end-row with a Pawn or ‘controled’pile, these stay put and cannot be moved again. 
  • When one of the Players cannot make a move in his Turn (all piles or Pawns are on the end-row and on the other squares on the board there are no own Pawn or ‘controled’ piles) play ends immediately. 
  • Each Player now counts ALL the Pawns on his end-row. Player with the highest sum is the Winner.

So far for the old game from that long ago.

When I was preparing and testing the game of REVERTELLO, a REVERSI-variant on a hexagonal board, one of my friends mentioned this old, almost forgotten by me, game PUNT-MATCH as a possible other feature for the board we were playing on. When we had a try, it even worked out as a more tactical and strategic game compared to the old one. There was also the possibility to play the game on this hexagonal board with 3 Players and that too was fun and strategy!

Thus here is my “new” 2013 version:

A strategic board-game for 2 or 3 Players
© Fred Horn 10 August 2013

The game is played on a 5 hexhex board. There are 14 white and black "pointed-cap" pawns plus 11 red pawns (for the 3-player game).

Goal and Rules are identical with the Game on the square-board (Punt-Match), except for both games also counts:
  • Moving forwards gives now TWO possibilities instead of ONE.for game with 3 an additional start-rule: White begins, then Turns go ‘clock-wise’.

Jul 16, 2013

Long Tau

Long Tau is a  1943 game by M.J.G.Thomassen.

Below you'll find the rules and some comments by Fred Horn.

LONG TAU      The Chinese DRAGON-game
                                         ©  M.J.G.Thomassen  Illustrator  29 May 1943

Introduction by Fred Horn:
In the late Seventies of the last Century I was asked to make an inventory  of all games stored in the Attick of the Jumbo-headquarters in Amsterdam. One of my finds there was this game which mr. Thomassen had send to Jumbo in 1943 to get an ordeal about the possibilities of publishing it. That never did materialize and Jumbo also did not returned the Prototype. 

When I tried to find more about the Game and its Author, privacy-rules made it (for me) impossible to get access to the Files: you have to be Family or you must have a declaration of a University that you are doing scientific research.

The prototype is now in the Amsterdamsch Historisch Museum. The Speelgoed-Museum in Deventer also owns a version of the game, which could indicate that (probably in small numbers) the game has been published elsewhere.

The Game-Rules I present here in English are an exact translation of the original typed rules from mr.Thomassen. He then (1943) lived in Amsterdam; Leonardostraat 3 (1 hoog);   tel: 22234

LONG TAU, the Chinese dragongame

LONG TAU is an old Chinese game, in which the dragon who has to be sitting in the middle of the game-board on his golden chair, presses his mark.
Within Chinese thoughts a dragon cannot be killed, only tied, so the aim of the game is not to “capture” opponents’ pawns, but to “besiege” these pawns and make them harmless.

Around the Golden Chair are 4 play-areas, connected by straight lines, each with 22 squares. When LONG TAU is played with TWO , only  2 opposite areas are used and both players place 22 pawns on the squares.
(N.B. handwritten is added: ‘color!’  à so each player has his own color.  F.H.)
Players draw lots who starts.
The pawns can only move along the straight black lines, as far as possible, which means:
till the end of the line or when meeting an own pawn or an opponents pawn. This strange way of movement of the pawns is one of the ‘enchanting things’ of LONG TAU.
Jumping over pawns during a move is not allowed.
Players turns are alternately.
When a player succeeds in completely surrounding an opponents pawn, he removes this pawn in his next turn and also moves one of his own pawns.
A pawn is besieged when he is completely surrounded by enemy-pawns and cannot move. Sometimes a player needs 3, sometimes 4 pawns for this enclosure. This depends on its place on the board. If a pawn is surrounded by 3 opponents pawns and one own, and this own pawn can still move, then de besiege is not complete and the pawn cannot removed.
It is also possible to besiege a whole group of pawns. The one condition is that the surrounding is really complete. In that case the complete group may be removed from the board.
If a player can occupy during his turn the 4 squares of the Golden Chair then he can remove in his next turn the 4 opponent pawns which are situated the farthest from the Golden Chair.
If a player want to do this agsin he first has to move one of his pawns from the squares around the Golden Chair, to return in his next move. This gives the opponent the opportunity  to occupy this empty square and thus save his game.

The first player without pawns on the board, looses the game.
Is LONG TAU played with FOUR, then each player starts in his area with 12 pawns, situated on the 12 squares the nearest to the players edge of the board. The 2 opposite players play against the other 2.
(N.B. it is clear that the “partners” play with the same color.  F.H.)

Necessaries:   48 pawns, in 2 sete of 24 pieces, in 2 colors.
On 29 May 1943 –the date I did use for the copyright date- mr. Thomassen send a Letter to Hausemann & Hötte in which he gives a further explication of the rules.

Dear Sirs,
As a result of our conversation on the telephone, I summarize below in short the rules!
The game may be played by 2 or 4 persons, respectivily with 22 or 12 pawns ( the line-up with 12 pawns is upon the squares at the back part of the board).
The game is based on the principle of removing pawns of the opposite party by:
1) enclosure /besiege
2) ‘making’ the Golden Chair (the inner Square)
A pawn is besieged when it is completely surrounded by enemy pawns and is unable to move.
Also more pawns (grouped together F.H.) may be besieged as a whole,
When the Golden Chair has been ‘made’, 4 opponents pawns may be removed from the outside squares.
The movement of the pawns is along a straight line. A pawn must move up to the end of the line where this line changes direction, or up to the point where another pawn ‘blocks’ further movement.

If you require further verbal explication, I will be with pleasure at your diposal.
I do hope to hear from in the near future, yours faithfully,


N.B. Unluckely for mr. Thomassen, Jumbo never answered!

Jul 11, 2013


Another game sent by Fred Horn. This Game for two players was exhibited 1984 in Amsterdam.

The rules translation from Dutch:

STRAAT is a Puzzle-game for 2 Persons.
16 Square Pieces, each on 1 side half-Black/half-White and on the other side 8 total-Black and 8 total-White.
Play-frame of 4 x 4 Squares from transparent material (glass/perspex/etc.) .
Transparent lid to cover the Pieces after filling the frame.
One Player takes the 8 all-White- the other the 8 all-Black-Pieces.
White starts. In his Turn a Player lay down one of his Pieces to his wish anywhere on the Board, according to the grid. The orientation is up to the Player.
When all Pieces have been placed, each Player counts his Straten (Streets) –a connection of opposite edges with his color- , place the lid and turns the Board over and also counts his Straten on the back.
Player with highest sum WINS.

Jul 1, 2013


This is a 1976 Hasbro game that I recently found the rules. Here they are:

Jun 24, 2013


Matoca is a 1973 game from publisher Alabe Products. Bruce Whitehill kndly sent me following scans of the game:

Jun 19, 2013


Played in a 5 hexhex board. 12 for the first turn. After that a turn is to place two stones, or three if the opponent's biggest group is bigger than the player's (recursively).   Passes are always legal instead of placements.

When the board is full, the recursively-largest connected group wins.

Sample game:

  1.  ..  i5      k3  f4
  2.  o3 l4 f6    h2 h6 k5
  3.  i3 o5 k7    h4 j4 g5
  4.  g7 i7 n6    d2  m7
  5.  n4 e5 l6    c5 l2 d2
  6.  b6  d6      n2 a5 l6
  7.  j6  j8      o7 f8 k9
  8.  h8  g9      b4 m3 m5
  9.  e7  d8      i9 p6 q5
 10.  j2  g3      f2 g1 i1
 11.  k1  e3      c3 m1 e1
 12.  c7 e9 p4    n8 m9

Final Position:

|    abcdefghijklmnopq    
|        x x x o x         1
|       x x x o x x        2
|      x o o o x x o       3
|     x x x x x o o o      4
|    x x o x o x x o x     5
|     o o o x o o o x      6
|      o o o o o x x       7
|       o x o o x x        8
|        o o x x x         9
|    abcdefghijklmnopq

Groups sizes:
Os: size 23, 5
Xs: size 23, 9  X wins

Notice the recursive aspect of the goal. This is a quite interesting idea to apply in games where it's not difficult to draw (and we like to avoid draws, of course).

Jun 18, 2013

Peg Show & Telka

Peg Chow is a board game fom 1938 published by Parker Bros and is a Halma-Chinese Checkers variant.

The board:

There is also a variant to be played in the same board called Telka:

Bruce Whitehill kindly sent me these rule sets and related information. Also check his website, The Big Game Hunter.

Jun 10, 2013

Wit Begint en Wint

Feed Horn sent me information about a 1986 game compendium written in Dutch, called "Wit Begint en Wint" (White moves and wins). Here's a pdf with photos of its pages. Most of the games are well-known but some are inventions of the author Marius van Leeuwen.

Here are the pages of his original games and a brief description for each:

Hexagon -- Every connection between 2 opposing (corners belong to both) edges generates a Win.
There is also a more difficult variant: 3 edges must be connected and the corners are neutral (fig.3).
This Game has more to do with HAVANNAH from Freeling than with HEX.

Capture -- Similar to Hasami SHogi but with no fixed start-position. First the Players put the stones to their wish on the Board and then the Players in their turn make an orthogonal move with 1 stone going to an adjacent square. Capture as in the figures.

Eieren Rapen -- This is a NIM-game. All eggs are covered with a Chip. Loser is the Player who, in his last turn, must take the Chip from the broken egg. In a Turn a Player takes, to his wish, as much Chips from an egg as he wants out of a Row or Column (not necessarily adjacent).

Langste Adem -- Start on the indicated ring. In a Turn place your next Chip adjacent to your last played Chip . Player who cannot play in his turn loses. This is like POINT-BLANK  or as a reverse (take away) like ISOLA.

Connection -- This is the Connection game, but with different board size and probably previous to the commercial McNamara's game from 1991. Of course 1960's Bridg-It predates both

Carre -- The goal is to make as much squares as possible out of 4 or 8 own pieces on the board. Squares cannot be orientated diagonally. This is a little bit similar to the game Pagode.

Jun 6, 2013


Initial setup:

        . . . . . . .         1
       . . . . . . x .        2
      . . o . . . x . .       3
     . . . . . . . . . .      4
    . . . . . . . . . . .     5
   . . . . . . . . . . . .    6
  . x x . . . . . . . o o .   7
   . . . . . . . . . . . .    8
    . . . . . . . . . . .     9
     . . . . . . . . . .     10
      . . o . . . x . .      11
       . o . . . . x .       12
        . . . . . . .        13

The mover places stones of either colour on empty spaces; as many (unrestricted) per turn as he has groups size 2 or more.

The game ends when the board is full or both consecutively pass;
the player with the largest connected group (recursively), wins.

Recursive scoring means that if both largest groups are equal, then it's the 2nd largest groups that decide the match (and so on, if they are also equal...)

Game Sample:

       x x . . o x x         1.  j4  p12  (O started)
      . . o o o x x x        2.  f12 g13 q13
     . . o x x x x o o       3.  o11 c9  e9
    . . o o x o x o . .      4.  g1  i1  y7  x8
   . . o x x x o x o x x     5.  r4 s3 d6 t10 u11
  o o o o x x o o x o . o    6.  m7 o7 l6 l8  k5 k9
. x x . o x x x o x o o x   7.  n5 o5 f6 i7 q7 h8 p8
  . . o o x x x o o x o x    8.  t2 m3 o3 l4 g11 h10 j10
o o x x x o o . o o .     9.  lm2 s5 px6 m9 lpq10 k11 o13
    x x x x o x o o o .      10. i5 J2 H6  F8 O9
     x x o o x o x . o       11. o1 h4 g5 i14 u3
      x o . o . o x X        12. (more moves not recorded)
       x o . o o x .         13.

O: 2 groups     largest is 34
X: 7 groups     largest is 37

O resigned in this position, since he can only play two stones per turn (against 7 stones from X), but he would have needed three stones so that his largest group would also consist of 37 stones. If that happenend, O would win because he has the 2nd largest group.

Jun 4, 2013


Pontoons is a 1870 game published by John Jaques. Fred Horn was able to found the ruleset:

May 29, 2013


This game is from the same company, THINK Games, that published The Game. Notice how the playing cubes have the same structure. The game is a #D Tic Tac Toe variant.

The next pictures are zoom ins of the previous one, showing the ruleset:

Fred Horn photos and information.

May 8, 2013


Transet is a game invented by the dutch author Harm van Veen. A game sample was found by Fred Horn in a second hand shop, it after some searches, Fred was able to found the author which was still alive.
The author invented the game as a pedagogical tools for its students when he was a younger professor, and developed it during the years. An older version was called Kwinta (here's a commercial ad about it):

TRANSET is played with only Five Rules as Harm explains:

Number 1 and 5 are, in his opinion, kind of ‘Agreements’ and 2, 3 and 4 are ‘Rules how to Move’.

      The light-colored Pawns are placed on the North-side, the dark-colored on the South-side, with the PIAS in the middle, the PINETS at the edges and the PIOKERS in-between (see picture on page 10).
      The dark-Player (South) starts and then Moves go alternately
2)  MOVE
      a) PINET         One square straight ahead
      b) PIOKER      One square diagonal, left or right, ahead
      c)  PIAS            One square straight, or diagonal left or right ahead (combination of a and b)
      A Pawn can only be moved to an empty square
       When the square to move to is occupied by an Opponents’ Pawn, this Pawn is captured.
       The Player ends his Turn by replacing the captured Pawn on the Board upon an empty square of the Opponents’ starting Line
4)  MOVE with “SWOPPING”
       a) straight ahead and back
       Move TWO own Pawns, no matter which. One moves one square straigt ahead, the 
       other one square straight backwarts, both only if the squares to move to are empty
       b) sideways left and right
       Move TWO own Pawns, no matter which. One moves one square sideways to the left,
       the other one square sideways to the right, only if the squares to move to are empty
5)  END
       a) by making an “end-move”: When a Player reaches in his Turn the other side of the Board with one of his Pawns, play ends immediately and this Player wins the Game
       b) by resignation: When one Player resigns, play ends and the Opponent wins the Game
       c) by draw: When both Players agree to a Draw there is no Winner.

Apr 15, 2013

BGS 2013: David Singmaster about Vanishing Puzzles

Metagrobologist David Singmaster made a nice presentation about an old subject: Vanishing Puzzles.

Here's a simple one where we move a piece of the puzzle and the original egg disappears:

David Singmaster brought lots of puzzles and old book references.

Here is a part of a page from Sebastiano Serlio - The First Booke of Architecture from 1611 (!) where it says that we can cut a table in a way to increase its area:

Another old reference is Davis Hooper's Rational Recreations, volume 4, from 1782:

And a 19th century French puzzle with the same theme:
Sam Loyd also made some famous vanishing puzzles:
I remember this next one from my youth, here in Portugal:
Other ones:
update: here's a Geogebra application of Loyd's Get off the Earth