To change the subject!
I have just finished writing a Tablut practise pad.
You can copy and paste the moves from the brainking game notation pane.
I wrote it to look exactly like the brainking one for familiarity (hope fencer doesn't mind).
It allows you to try out variations and be able to visualise a few moves ahead ... let me know if it's useful ... or if there are any bugs ... or if there are any obvious features I've missed out.
The series is now half way through (although the first event has yet to finish) and already we have a lot of new entrants - I hope you are all enjoying the series.
But theres still time for new blood to experience the game, unrated players are welcome to wet their feet! A maximum BKR of 1500 is all you will be up against, so there's plenty of opportunity to explore without fear of getting slaughtered - I removed myself from the remaining tournaments once my BKR had increased beyond this limit.
The Beginners Tablut series is a great initiative.
If beginners (1500 BKR) like to play teaching games, just send me an invitation for 4 uncounted & unrated games with me playing black. The idea is you play the same moves in all 4 games until you want to explore alternatives; I will comment on the moves.
In game 841545 and 848452 I played with black against a weaker white player who forced draw by eternal reichi. I don't like it that white can easily force a draw by playing like this. I'm thinking about not accepting a draw anymore in this kind of cases. But is there a better solution?
In my humble opinion, if you let white get a draw then it's your own fault. As black you have to play with this in mind. I've looked at one of your games (841545) and I believe you could have won. But instead you took a greedy short-sighted approach instead of patiently encircling your opponent and you let them draw. That's just a statement of fact - it's not meant to be offensive. The important words are you let them draw. It was a draw because you let it happen.
Not accepting a draw would be bad sportmanship. What are you going to do instead - play the game forever? What would that prove? It would say less about the game and more about you.
This so-called "problem" has been raised before. If a solution is required then no single answer has yet been agreed. But perhaps you have a good answer. Do let us know. Meanwhile bear in mind that the "problem" is not a big one. Less than 3% of tablut games are draws.
Just to add again the opposite approach:
I think it is bad sportmanship when one ruins a good game by perpetual raichi. Perhaps the best remedy IS to make it really perpetual: "if you don't give up a game which you have lost, I won't grant you a draw".
You just can't expect one side (black) to play perfect - and we do not even know if perfect play can prevent this kind of easy draws.
OF COURSE players with lower ratings play suboptimal (we all do of course, even ughaibu makes mistakes) but if the black player prevents the king to march out of the board and will eventually close him in and kill (if necessary) the remaining white soldiers, black played better and is the winner.
That the black player could have prevented perpetual raichi doesn't prove white deserves the draw.
Why should black not only have to prevent escape but also perpetual raichi? Isn't it difficult enough for black? Are there not enough drawing possibilies for white without the easy perpetual raichi?
With one soldier (like soldier d1 king d2, soldier d5 king d6) one can try to get a draw out of this: not only by a 4-soldier construction in the corner but also with more soldiers left then black can safely capture.
Look at my two games against WhisperzQ. In both games the white player could have perpetual raichi'd in an uncomfortable position. Are you seriously blaming the black player for that position to occur?
To sum up: having to prevent perpetual raichi puts an extra (too heavy) burden on black, since it is too easy to achieve.
It IS a real problem, for it is no longer just an incident; some players even go for perpetual raichi from the beginning. It influences the games too much: "I should play this good move, but can I trust my oponent not to perpetual attack?"
A solution would still be to make an extra Tablut variant with a rule against perpetual raichi or to implement this rule on the existing variant.
Fwiffo: You wrote: "That the black player could have prevented perpetual raichi doesn't prove white deserves the draw.". No it doesn't prove that white deserves the draw. It proves that black doesn't deserve the win! :-)
If it is really asking too much to ask a black player to stop the draw as well as to prevent white winning, why is it that the very best tablut player on the BrainKing site has so efficiently stopped nearly everyone drawing against him? (I know that he hates the perpetual raichi draw, but that hasn't stopped him being 400 BKR ahead of anyone else AND with less than a 1% draw ratio.)
I know some people play for a draw from the beginning. If you are good enough as black, you will stop them. If you are not good enough, they will draw against you. When you become good enough, you will begin to stop the draws.
I believe that perpetual raichi is only a problem if it can be demonstrated that white can always force it from the start position. To the best of my knowledge that has not yet been done. If it is ever done then the game rules are flawed and will need changing. Until that time, I am happy to play both sides of the game with the current BrainKing rules.
Stormerne: I believe that perpetual raichi is only a problem if it can be demonstrated that white can always force it from the start position. To the best of my knowledge that has not yet been done. If it is ever done then the game rules are flawed and will need changing.
Yes, but after you have demonstrated that white can always force a draw, then before you change the rules that white isn't allowed to force a draw, you should demonstrate white has a better strategy. If it turns out that going for a draw is the best white can hope for with the best black play, it would be silly to penalize white for that.
Why do you have to be a MUCH BETTER player than your opponent to prevent those draws?
You can't prove anything from the fact that ughaibu doesn't let many players draw. (And some players wouldn't even when they had the chance.)
The point is, that two equally strong players should have around the same 'chance' to win. Now, white is already favoured by the rules (60%!!), which is -to say the least- a reason to abolish perpetual raichi.
when you place the burden on black to prevent perpetual raichi, his/her range of moves is seriously limited.
It could even mean that the black player has no choice at all in the opening. That would make the game less interesting: less chance to develop your own style etc. The use of different approaches to white threaths is what makes the black part fun.
We are now talking about arguments against perpetual raichi, but what are the positive reasons perpetual raichi should be allowed?
Fwiffo: You wrote: "The point is, that two equally strong players should have around the same 'chance' to win. Now, white is already favoured by the rules (60%!!), which is -to say the least- a reason to abolish perpetual raichi."
I would not judge that chance on a single game. The least I would judge it is by a pair of games with swapped colours.
I work with cryptoguru. He is a very strong player with white. He is not so good playing black. He is not alone - he is like many people. Playing white and black are like playing two entirely separate games with separate strategies and even some separate tactics. Playing a successful black strategy takes much more patience than white. It takes more time to master playing black than white for many people because of the attractiveness of forced white wins. This is human nature, it is not a problem with the game itself. Most people here have been playing months not years. When these games were originally played, you'd learn over a lifetime. I think the statistics reflect a lot of learning and hence a lot of bias towards white winning. If you investigated statistics for more mature players and exclude the beginners, I suspect you'd see it even out a lot.
We should allow perpetual raichi because it's part of the game. I don't think it's a goal. It's just an artefact, a side effect. We have no evidence to suggest that it was not a traditional part of the game.
But this is not a draw!!! It's a sure win for black. As chess masters often (annoyingly) say, "The rest is just technique."
Your opponent was not wrong to resign unless he thought you would throw away the win. Perhaps he was complimenting you by resigning as he assumed that you had the skill to win. Do you think he was wrong to assume that?
Stormerne: "We should allow perpetual raichi because it's part of the game."
The possibility of perpetual raichi is part of the game, but perpetual raichi = draw is not.
In Linn. rules draws are not even mentioned!
The Linn. rules don't show perpetual raichi = draw. They don't show it's a loss for white (or whatever rule) either, so we just have to DECIDE what is part of the game.
"We have no evidence to suggest that it was not a traditional part of the game."
No, and we don't have evidence it WAS a traditional part of the game.
Is is just begging the question.
You have a point that the statistics are misleading, but I think that when you look at the high-rated players playing each other, white still has the advantage.
Fwiffo: It is a fairly simple win. You would have needed to do two things:
Ensure the king and his fortress companions were sufficiently surrounded to stay in the fortress. This is easy.
Restrict the movement of the outer white pieces until either (a) they have no movement at all, or (b) they have to offer themselves for capture. This takes a few careful moves but is easy.
The win comes either because (A) white has no more available moves, or because (B) he has no moves except one that fatally weakens the fortress.
Yes, I understand all that and I used it before in my games.
But I thought in this specific game it doesn't work. After the restriction of the movement of the white pieces, white has serious threaths to capture crucial black pieces. Of course I can be mistaken. I am probably too fast with my conclusion it is a draw, but then again even ughaibu was wondering if I really could win the endgame.
I will have a look at the game again. For now let's say it wasn't a good example, but the idea becomes clear when we imagine black has less soldiers: he has the king closed in, but is unable to restrict white's two pieces enough to kill.
Fwiffo: If you would like to finish this game by private message, one move per message, with you swapping sides to white and me taking black, I'd be willing to give it a go. We could post the result here afterwards. You can try and stop me winning as black. I'd be surprised if it takes more than 10-15 moves.
Fwiffo: I would be willing to give it a go too (as a matter of interest) ... you can send me an invite to a non-rated, non-counting game ... then we can play out the moves (one by one) until we get to this position, then play for real.
me too, i see no way for white to even think of a draw. Also, ughaibu's dominance with both colors definitely isn't a fluke. In him in this game, and also against him and me in jungle, players have challenged us to prove they have sure drawing methods. It was rather interesting really. But in both cases, the fortress idea was flawed and so far, I know of no way for a side to force a win in this or jungle. Ughaibu once said he felt there was a way intuitively, but since no one could find it, it wasn't important to delve into it yet. Could we, here, on brainking, see the beginnings of tablut theory forming? Ironically, the more we research into if there is a proven draw, the more draws we will have.
Part of me wants to say leave well enough alone because I like the game as it is, but the nature of humanity is progress, whether for good or ill. I hope we're not brilliant enough to ruin the game. People say chess is ruined because of the theory and the draws, but it found a way with the FRC addition. Anyway, getting ahead of myself here.
there was a great article, which someone attributed to ughaibu, written at www.abstractgamesmagazine.com, but it appears to have gone the way of the dodo.
I appreciate the new blood you've brought to the game and site, storm, keep it up.
redsales: Tablut theory definitely exists - which is why I'm writing a book about it. And Tablut theory is developing all the time. Or maybe the theory is "recovering" instead, and we are "rediscovering" what ancient north European players knew for centuries. The double fortress draw that I discovered against WhisperzQ may be an example of this - perhaps well known long ago, but brand new to us.
And thank you for your kind words of encouragement! :-D
It's sad to see that the two constructive posts of ughaibu have disappeared again. I hope he is still willing to explore my game with both sides. It has my preference above the other proposals about playing the game, since the chance of mistakes is reduced when ughaibu plays them.
And we can all see the progression of the game. If Fencer doesn't allow the game to be played by one player playing both sides, maybe I could play one side of an unrated game and just play those move ughaibu posts me.
The highlight of the site is an applet for Java-equipped web browsers, which allows you to play the game against a friend using whatever board layout and rules you select (i.e. a virtual board). I've also put a drawing on there, something in the likeness of an authentic tablut game, as Linnaeus would have witnessed it (based on his own drawings).
I tried a few months ago to play Tafl with different board sizes (using my Go board), but I was unable to figure out a well-balanced ruleset (except for our own Tablut - slightly modified :) ). Games were too biased or too slow. Maybe someone can come up with a good board-size/game rules combination?
Fwiffo: As from our other conversation I'll bring one of my suggestions here to see what other people think...
This one is based on Brandubh, as played in Ireland in the tenth century. What we know from literary sources and archaeology is that the game was played with a king (branan) and his four men against eight enemies. The most common board size found in Ireland is 7x7, with markings on the centre and the four corners. Poetry tells us that the central square on the board is "Tara", and is one of the "five noble squares fitting for the branan". This, together with the rules of movement and capture we're familiar with from tablut and other related games, is just about enough to put together a working variant:
1. The pieces are laid out on the board in the shape of a cross, with the king in the centre, his four defenders around him, and the attackers forming the outer arms of the cross.
2. The attackers move first, and all pieces move like a chess rook, as in tablut. Only the king can occupy the centre square or the four marked corners.
3. The pieces are captured by surrounding them on two opposite sides, as in tablut. The king, though, is also captured this way. A piece sitting next to a corner square can be captured by placing a piece on the other side of him, so that he's caught between an enemy and the corner square. The central square is different and can't be used in this way.
4. To win, the king must reach a corner square. He loses if he is captured as described in rule 3 above.
This is almost the same as the game Brandubh implemented in Zillions of Games. But that game favours the king too much, so I've adopted the layout from E. MacWhite's 1946 article on Early Irish Games, and allowed the king to be captured on only two sides as in tawlbwrdd. The result seems to be quite a balanced game. It's quite a bit quicker than our tablut, and is more about short term tactics than long term strategy, so it makes quite a good coffee table game. I just need to make myself a set!
Fwiffo: OK, consider it done. I think a bigger board and more pieces do tend to make the strategy more long term, but my only real experience is half a dozen games of this brandubh and about thirty games of tablut.
I thought I'd follow up last month's Brandubh variant with another one you might be interested in. This one is based on the Welsh game tawlbwrdd. What we know about the game comes from a Welsh manuscript in 1587, written by Robert ap Ifan. He gives an imprecise description of the layout of the pieces on the board, and neglects to tell us how they move, but he does tell us about capture. Victory for the king isn't clear. Details have been filled in mainly by R. C. Bell, who I follow. But I don't bother with the dice that he introduces, as these aren't mentioned in the manuscript and they really ruin the game in my opinion.
1. The game is played with a king, twelve defenders and twenty-four attackers, on a board eleven squares by eleven. The king sits in the centre, with his defenders around him in a diamond shape, while the attackers form four hollow pentagonal shapes around the edge of the board. I won't even attempt to describe this layout in any more detail, it's best viewed here:
2. The object of the game for the king is to reach any square on the edges of the board. The attackers, as usual, have to capture the king.
3. The attacking side begins. Movement (it is now supposed) is in the same way as tablut: as far as you like either horizontally or vertically. There are no recorded restrictions on the central square.
4. Capture for ALL pieces is by custodianship, that is, surrounding an enemy piece on two sides by pieces of your own. The king may capture, but may himself be captured in the same way as other men.
In Bell's reconstruction, only the king can come to rest between two other pieces, but from my memory of the original rules (which I read in translation), this seems to apply to all pieces. The variant I present here seems, after a few games, to be relatively balanced.
You worked hard? Don't make me laugh. You played white. I on the other hand, worked damn hard for my 2070 BKR, and now its been cut down to a lowly 1814. You don't seem to have been affected. I didn't realise you had gone to Europe for your holiday ;-)
mikkyT: It's a good job that I know you personally and that (a) I know when you're joking and just trying to be provocative, and (b) I can come round to your office desk with a large baseball bat and give you a moderating you won't forget in a hurry. ;-)
cryptoguru: Personally I would like that. But then you and I are mathematicians. Most people I suspect will be happy to take it on trust though, as you suggest, it's easier to take something on trust when it's in the open (even if you don't understand it).
The previous system seemed to me to be done by a series of lookup tables which was sensitive to the difference between to the players and applied fixed increments/decrements in 200 BKR bands. What is done now I haven't had enough time to notice.