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Twixt» Forums » Rules

Subject: Why Pie? rss

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David Bush
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EDIT. After 5 years I finally fix the images which went away. Actually I realized all these complicated variations were not getting the point across, so I vastly simplified them. Nobody asked me about variations anyway. It probably still does not convince anyone who wasn't already convinced.

This thread is a spinoff of a remark made by Skip Maloney in the review thread

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/677421/twixt-a-twisting-...

SkipM624 wrote:

Say red's goal is a chain of links moving east to west. Black (you) has to establish links moving north to south. Red places a peg somewhere in the center (generally a good idea; placing a starting peg, even slightly near a border, gives you that much less space to manuever). As black, count four spaces away from where red placed their peg, either to the east or west of it, and place your black peg there. At this point, your positions are dead equal. Red can link east or west, and you can link north or south.


Skip was once in a Twixt tournament I directed. As director, I was supposed to communicate the importance of the pie rule, but I apparently failed with Skip. Here I change the colors and the first player has borders North and South, but the following is essentially the position Skip is talking about:



I claim this position is far from equal, and the first player (Yellow) has a winning advantage. For example, yellow could play i11:



This could be called a feint on the left, preparing for the main attack on the right. It improves yellow's position in both the top and bottom halves of the board. Suppose for example purple blocks with G6, then yellow can play P9.



The point I'm trying to make here is that Twixt is a very fast game. The advantage of the first move is significant. The pie rule really does make a difference. If you play without it you are playing a handicap game. I'm sure there are many players like Skip who would say that the rule is more trouble than it's worth for them, but I hope you give it a try nonetheless. If your opponent plays first with L12, flip that pieces box around! Of course, players should agree on the rules before play begins.
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Eugene
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What do you consider a balanced first move that would not invite flipping the pieces box around?
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David Bush
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EDIT AFTER A LONG TIME: I should mention that a balanced move MIGHT invite flipping the pieces box and it might not. The point is that the decision whether to flip or not would be a difficult one.

It took me two years to get around to an answer. In truth, I don't know what really is a balanced first move. My personal preference these days is often either H4 or J5.


You might be interested in a statistical analysis of opening moves played on Little Golem. The most balanced results have occurred so far at C12, D3, or G5. But keep in mind the top value in parentheses in each cell, which is the number of games with that first move. For example, F11 has been marked as a no-swap move, but that data is based on just 38 games. I would call F11 an of-course-swap-duh move. Many such cells have very few games. Strong players know better than to play there.
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