Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

[Icehouse] [Martian Chess] End of Tournament Games

  • Fromkerry_and_ryan@xxxxxxx
  • DateThu, 06 Jul 2006 14:27:09 +0000
So an issue came up during the Martian Chess tournament at Origins.  The ad hoc rule I made was that the game continues until there is an empty sector AND there is a lone player with the most points.  

Wouldn't ya know it... it came into play.  As I recall the game, player A had one piece in his quadrant, which he would push across the canal.  Player B would push it back.  C (one of the tied leaders) would take a piece (or not).  Then D would take a similarly sized piece.  At no time was there a single winner AND an empty sector.  This game dragged on and became essentially a stalemate.  After a round or two of captures, everyone was just playing safe.  Even player A didn't want to end the game, because the capture of a queen would put him in the lead.  (Same for player B.)

The ruling I made (let's call it rule A) was one of the two obvious choices.  The other (rule B) was that a player was not allowed to empty his sector if there wasn't a clear winner.  After the unsatisfying ending of me declaring the game over due to time and having the two tied leaders both advance to the finals, folks "decided" that rule A led to the bad outcome, so rule B would "obviously" have been better.  But would it have been?  With rule B there still would have been two players in a tie for the lead.  All four players would still have been playing defensively, not letting anyone else get an unmatched capture.  All it would have done is restrict the movements of that player with one piece in his sector.  In fact it would take away the possibility of that player emptying his sector and then one of the leaders finding a way to break the tie and thus end the game, which would be possible with rule A.

So I'm convinced that rule A, the one that we were using, is at least as good as rule B.  But even rule A doesn't solve the stalemate problem.

Does anyone see a good game-end rule for Martian Chess that drives the game to a conclusion with a single winner when there are players tied for the lead, neither/none of which can empty their sector profitably?  I know, how about this: The game ends when there is one clear winner anytime AFTER (or while) there was (is) an empty sector.  I think that would have worked during the tournament game, but I'm not sure.  I dislike a little because it require a little bit (in fact, one bit) of memory -- you can't just look at the board to see the state of the game.  But that's a small price to pay.

Any other ideas?