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Subject: Add to rules: no passing allowed rss

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Craig Duncan
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I just played a game of Yavalath where we got to an endgame stage in which the board was so crowded that no more 4-in-a-row shapes were possible. So a 4-in-a-row win was no longer possible, and nor was it possible to cleverly force your opponent into making a 3-in-a-row loss by creating an XX-X shape in your color.

Thus, the endgame became one of simply outlasting the other player, by playing in safe spots until the only moves left for one player were unsafe moves that would make 3-in-a-row for him.

At this point my opponent declared the game a draw, since (he said) a player could just opt to pass instead of play, and thus, could never be forced to make a 3-in-a-row.

I didn't argue the point, since it was a gentlemanly game, and after all, it is just a short game; no biggie either way. Moreover, the rules we used indeed made no mention of passing being disallowed.

So my thought is that a "no passing allowed" rule should be made explicit in future rule sets of Yavalath, in order to prevent potential misunderstandings.

My opponent, though, made the point that an endgame of simply outlasting the other is a bit tedious and anti-climatic, and he'd prefer to halt such games and treat them as draws in any case. So he'd prefer a rule of "draws occur if board fills up with no win, or if both players pass."

So, a couple of questions:

1. Do you think that among experienced Yavalath players, the game will OFTEN reach an "outlast the other" endgame? (If that is the case, then allowing passing will often result in draws.)

2. Which rule would you prefer (passing allowed vs passing disallowed)?

3. Is Yavalath's tendency to reach such endgames between good players (if indeed it is a tendency) a strike against the game, in your view?
 
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Avri
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Quote:
Starting with White, players take turns placing a stone of their color in any empty cell on the board.

I understood it as read that passing was not allowed.
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Néstor Romeral Andrés
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Passing is not allowed.
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Russ Williams
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cdunc123 wrote:
At this point my opponent declared the game a draw, since (he said) a player could just opt to pass instead of play, and thus, could never be forced to make a 3-in-a-row.

I didn't argue the point, since it was a gentlemanly game

Your opponent was not being a gentleman.

The rules do not say you can pass.

This kind of endgame can happen. I don't see it as a strike against the game at all! Like a close endgame in Go, there is still tactical interest and decision making in it. You need to plan your moves to avoid making 3-in-a-row first.
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Néstor Romeral Andrés
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Craig Duncan
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russ wrote:
cdunc123 wrote:
At this point my opponent declared the game a draw, since (he said) a player could just opt to pass instead of play, and thus, could never be forced to make a 3-in-a-row.

I didn't argue the point, since it was a gentlemanly game

Your opponent was not being a gentleman.

The rules do not say you can pass.


Looking back at my OP, I see my description was potentially misleading and makes my opponent appear more assertive than he really was. When we reached the "outlast the other player" endgame, he said "I can't see how this game will be anything other than a draw." I replied "How so? One of us will be forced to play three in a row." And he replied "Ah but isn't passing a default option? And in that case a player will pass rather than be forced to lose." So I should have been less brief in my initial description, and not simply have said "My opponent declared the game a draw."

Also to be fair, this was a PBEM game. I'm rather new to that format, but my opponent plays lots and lots of such games and in his PBEM culture, passing is apparently quite standard, so it needn't be ungentlemanly of him to assume passing is an option unless ruled out explicitly.

In a couple of other games (non-Yavalath) that I've played with him, we've reached some rule ambiguity spots, and he's been very generous of spirit in resolving those, not always to his favor!

The game began as a three-player PBEM Yavalath game. The third player got elminated. In my most recent email, I proposed having the third player make a ruling on "pass or no pass." So we will see what happens. Like I said in my OP, no biggie either way!

Anyway, thanks for the replies!
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Craig Duncan
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russ wrote:
This kind of endgame can happen. I don't see it as a strike against the game at all! Like a close endgame in Go, there is still tactical interest and decision making in it. You need to plan your moves to avoid making 3-in-a-row first.


I understand this reasoning. That said, I prefer the forced wins and I do find the "outlast the other" endgame a bit anti-climatic. So in my way of thinking it is a small strike against the game. But I still enjoy Yavalath!
 
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Russ Williams
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cdunc123 wrote:
Also to be fair, this was a PBEM game. I'm rather new to that format, but my opponent plays lots and lots of such games and in his PBEM culture, passing is apparently quite standard, so it needn't be ungentlemanly of him to assume passing is an option unless ruled out explicitly.


(To be clear, I was joshing around with my "gentlemanly" comment, hence the smiley.)

About a hypothetical PBEM culture of passing in lots of games: I've not encountered this "passing culture", and it seems weird to me if they really play that way. I would not assume I can pass in a given game unless the game's rules actually say so, and I'm surprised if there are people playing lots and lots of abstract strategy games and just automatically assuming that you can pass in any game. In many games it's very important that you cannot pass!
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Cameron Browne
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Hi Craig,

cdunc123 wrote:
Thus, the endgame became one of simply outlasting the other player

This is actually a key part of the game which adds a layer of strategic complexity. Instead of just trying to get 4-in-a-row/avoid getting 3-in-a-row, players should also think about giving themselves as many safe points as possible right from the start.

cdunc123 wrote:
Moreover, the rules we used indeed made no mention of passing being disallowed.

The rules state that players take turns "adding a piece of their colour to an empty cell". If your opponent did not add a piece of his colour to an empty cell on his turn, then he was not playing according to the rules.

cdunc123 wrote:
My opponent, though, made the point that an endgame of simply outlasting the other is a bit tedious and anti-climatic, and he'd prefer to halt such games and treat them as draws in any case.

That would have been convenient for him. I'd also like to halt any game that I was about to lose and call it a draw

I personally find draws tedious and anti-climactic, and prefer games in which forethought and analysis can lead to a win.

cdunc123 wrote:
1. Do you think that among experienced Yavalath players, the game will OFTEN reach an "outlast the other" endgame? (If that is the case, then allowing passing will often result in draws.)

There's no hard data on this, but I believe that experienced players will reach the cold end game more often than inexperienced players. It is therefore important that passing is not allowed.

cdunc123 wrote:
2. Which rule would you prefer (passing allowed vs passing disallowed)?

The current rules.

cdunc123 wrote:
3. Is Yavalath's tendency to reach such endgames between good players (if indeed it is a tendency) a strike against the game, in your view?

Not if you view it as adding a layer of strategy.

By the way, I'm currently doing an analysis of Yavalath with a colleague, as it seems to be one of the most "Monte Carlo resistant" (i.e. random simulations give misleading results) games out there. I'm comparing it to a hypothetical version of the game in which players are forbidden from make 3-in-a-row of their colour and are forced to pass if there are no legal moves. This would be equivalent to a standard game with passing allowed: it's not as good a game.

Regards,
Cameron
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Craig Duncan
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camb wrote:
cdunc123 wrote:
Moreover, the rules we used indeed made no mention of passing being disallowed.

The rules state that players take turns "adding a piece of their colour to an empty cell". If your opponent did not add a piece of his colour to an empty cell on his turn, then he was not playing according to the rules.


I see this point and had thought the same way myself. However, I suppose technically a person could reply, "Sure, IF you take your turn, then you add a stone to an empty cell. But by passing you are passing your turn rather than taking it."

Yes, that would be a rules-lawyerly reply. But there are rules lawyers out there, so when I next teach Yavalath I'm going to explicitly say passing is disallowed, just to be safe.

(By the way the opponent whom I mention in my OP didn't make the reply I just mentioned. I was just imagining someone who might make that rules-lawyerly point.)
 
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Russ Williams
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cdunc123 wrote:
I see this point and had thought the same way myself. However, I suppose technically a person could reply, "Sure, IF you take your turn, then you add a stone to an empty cell. But by passing you are passing your turn rather than taking it."

Yes, that would be a rules-lawyerly reply. But there are rules lawyers out there, so when I next teach Yavalath I'm going to explicitly say passing is disallowed, just to be safe.

That's rules-lawyerly to a silly hypothetical degree I don't recall meeting in reality!

There is no "IF you take your turn". The game rules say that players do turns alternately, and make no mention of being able to decide that a turn should be skipped, just like they make no mention of being able to place 2 stones on your turn, or being able to remove stones from the board, etc etc. If someone thinks that they can declare that a turn is not taken, they might as well declare that YOUR turn is not taken, so they get to make several turns in a row.

(This makes me ponder that "rules lawyer" in a negative sense has 2 common sub-meanings: one is that someone follows the rules as literally written even if it seems clear that this is not the intent. I can respect that type of rules lawyer much more than the hypothetical type you're positing here, who is not even following the rules as written but just making up nonsense that's not even in the rules...)
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Cameron Browne
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cdunc123 wrote:
However, I suppose technically a person could reply, "Sure, IF you take your turn, then you add a stone to an empty cell. But by passing you are passing your turn rather than taking it."

I don't think that holds.

The rules state that players take turns adding a piece of their colour to an empty cell. If a player does not take their turn then they are not playing according to the rules.

Maybe I'm being a bit hardline on this, but I strive for optimal rule sets that are as simple and elegant as possible, and such a clarification would seem like an unnecessary complication. But I'll add a "no passing" reminder in the Notes section of the official Yavalath web page to avoid any further confusion.

Cameron
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Russ Williams
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camb wrote:
Maybe I'm being a bit hardline on this, but I strive for optimal rule sets that are as simple and elegant as possible, and such a clarification would seem like an unnecessary complication. But I'll add a "no passing" reminder in the Notes section of the official Yavalath web page to avoid any further confusion.

FWIW I don't think it's "hardline" at all. Ideally, game rules should simply tell you what you do, and it shouldn't be necessary to enumerate all the things you can't do. ("You are not allowed to skip your turn. You are not allowed to place 2 pieces in your turn. You are not allowed to remove pieces from the board. You are not allowed to take 2 turns in a row. You are not allowed to play onto an occupied space. You are not allowed to play a piece of your opponent's color...." etc etc ad infinitum.)

I think that the only reason for explicitly saying "you can't do X" is if playtesting shows that in practice, for some reason players are often confused and think that they can do X. But I've taught & played Yavalath with many people, and this is the first time I've ever heard of anyone thinking they could simply skip their turn. I suspect the "I can just skip my turn" guy is an outlier.

And even then, usually the wording can be changed to make it clear without adding explicit prohibitions. E.g. using "must" often seems to helpfully emphasize a point ("each turn you must place one stone" or whatever.)
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Néstor Romeral Andrés
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russ wrote:
camb wrote:
Maybe I'm being a bit hardline on this, but I strive for optimal rule sets that are as simple and elegant as possible, and such a clarification would seem like an unnecessary complication. But I'll add a "no passing" reminder in the Notes section of the official Yavalath web page to avoid any further confusion.

FWIW I don't think it's "hardline" at all. Ideally, game rules should simply tell you what you do, and it shouldn't be necessary to enumerate all the things you can't do. ("You are not allowed to skip your turn. You are not allowed to place 2 pieces in your turn. You are not allowed to remove pieces from the board. You are not allowed to take 2 turns in a row. You are not allowed to play onto an occupied space. You are not allowed to play a piece of your opponent's color...." etc etc ad infinitum.)

I think that the only reason for explicitly saying "you can't do X" is if playtesting shows that in practice, for some reason players are often confused and think that they can do X. But I've taught & played Yavalath with many people, and this is the first time I've ever heard of anyone thinking they could simply skip their turn. I suspect the "I can just skip my turn" guy is an outlier.

And even then, usually the wording can be changed to make it clear without adding explicit prohibitions. E.g. using "must" often seems to helpfully emphasize a point ("each turn you must place one stone" or whatever.)


I like to use the word 'must' in my rulebooks. You save a lot on typing.


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Craig Duncan
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camb wrote:
cdunc123 wrote:
However, I suppose technically a person could reply, "Sure, IF you take your turn, then you add a stone to an empty cell. But by passing you are passing your turn rather than taking it."

I don't think that holds.

The rules state that players take turns adding a piece of their colour to an empty cell. If a player does not take their turn then they are not playing according to the rules.

Maybe I'm being a bit hardline on this, but I strive for optimal rule sets that are as simple and elegant as possible, and such a clarification would seem like an unnecessary complication. But I'll add a "no passing" reminder in the Notes section of the official Yavalath web page to avoid any further confusion.

Cameron


I think mentioning "no passing" in the Notes section is a good solution.

Just to be clear: I'm not endorsing these rules-lawyerly interpretations I've been articulating; I've just been putting them out there for comments. Thanks for all the comments, by the way! Quite convincing to my mind.

Maybe I'm currently in an odd kind of mindset since I'm right now teaching a Philosophy of Law class at my college and we are now talking about different theories of interpreting legal texts. There is actually a case before the U.S. Supreme Court right now disputing the usual interpretation of a recent U.S. law reforming the U.S. healthcare system. It all boils down to how to interpret 5 words in a 900 page (!) statute. If the challengers get the Court to agree with their (rather rules-lawyerly!) interpretation, then over 8 million people in the U.S. will lose their healthcare. So I guess the question of strained interpretations of textual passages has been on my mind of late. Fortunately, no lives hang in the balance with the Yavalath question!
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Russ Williams
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cdunc123 wrote:
Fortunately, no lives hang in the balance with the Yavalath question!

At least not until the President signs the Yavalath Act.
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Cameron Browne
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russ wrote:
At least not until the President signs the Yavalath Act.

I guess that would be: four strikes and you're out (unless you score three strikes first).

Cameron
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Virginia Milne
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Nestor stands exposed as a fake, who pretended that a stone tablet was handed down to him from high which read "Thou shall not pass". devil

Any supernatural source would know to say "Thou shalt not pass" unless it was a team game in which case "You shall not pass".

As for passing in games:

The whole end game in chess would come tumbling down if passing was allowed in chess. In case you think that is too obvious to mention, in Korean chess ( Jianggi ) passing is allowed
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camb wrote:
By the way, I'm currently doing an analysis of Yavalath with a colleague, as it seems to be one of the most "Monte Carlo resistant" (i.e. random simulations give misleading results) games out there.


I don't want to steal the thread but this sounds very interesting. Could you provide a short ranking of games sorted by their "Monte Carlos resistance"?
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camb wrote:
By the way, I'm currently doing an analysis of Yavalath with a colleague, as it seems to be one of the most "Monte Carlo resistant" (i.e. random simulations give misleading results) games out there.

I find that interesting because the AI in Ludi played a reasonably strong game. I never beat it by "frontal assault", only by giving myself more places to play as the board filled up. Since the AI in Ludi wasn't very smart in most games, and wasn't tuned to Yavalath at all, why was it so good?
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camb wrote:
I'd also like to halt any game that I was about to lose and call it a draw
Someone had to do this, eventually...

 
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