Move notation. Dots and Boxes

5 replies. Last post: 2004-07-21

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Move notation.
  • Knox (Computer) at 2004-06-21

    To be able to discuss games and alternative lines of play,

    we need a notation for referring to specific moves. Since

    a move is a line connecting two dots, an obvious method is to label the dots and specify a move by listing the two dots

    being connected.

    My first idea was to specify a dot by (r,c) where r is the

    row number and c is the column number. In this notation,

    the move connecting the dot in the lower-left corner with

    the dot to its right would be specified as (6,1)–(6,2) or

    more simply as 61–62 [I like this better]. The one

    drawback to this notation is that it is easy to confuse

    the row with the column and hence, the notation is prone

    to error. To remedy this problem we can instead use

    letters for the columns and numbers for the rows

    (or vice-versa) similar to describing a chess board

    with “algebraic notation.”

    I propose we adopt following move notation. Label the

    columns from left to right as a,b,c,d,e,f and label the

    rows from *bottom* to top as 1,2,3,4,5,6. In this proposed notation, we would represent the move that connects the lower-left corner with the dot to its right as a1-b1. If

    a turn consists of multiple moves because we have completed some boxes, then we can simply separate the moves by commas.

    We would record the start of a hypothetical dots and boxes

    game in the following manner.

    1. b5-c5 2. c4-c5

    3. b4-c4 4. b4-b5, d3-e3

    5. f1-f2

    The board would look then like the following.

    6 + + + + + +

    5 + +–+ + + +


    4 + +–+ + + +

    3 + + + +–+ +

    2 + + + + + +


    1 + + + + + +

    a b c d e f

    This notation is consistent with the most commonly used

    chess notation which is called algebraic notation.

    People who are used to this notation would hate it if

    you used letters for the rows and numbers for the columns,

    or if you reversed the row numbering so that 1 was at the

    top and 6 at the bottom (trust me on this).

    I believe the proposed notation is simple, clear, and unambiguous. Comments? Alternative proposals?

  • Knox (Computer) at 2004-06-21

    The carefully constructed spacing from my ascii dots-and-boxes diagram got removed. Is there any way to prevent this?

    Let me try again with html tags and see if that works

    6  +  +  +  +  +  +5  +  +--+  +  +  +      |Bl|4  +  +--+  +  +  +3  +  +  +  +--+  +2  +  +  +  +  +  +                  |1  +  +  +  +  +  +   a  b  c  d  e  f
  • Nick Wedd at 2004-07-11

    A Google search for '“dots and boxes” notation' finds several other methods:

  • Knox (Computer) at 2004-07-12

    But which notation do you like best?

    In regards to the notations described in the three links


    The third one requires a diagram of the board which misses

    the point. The purpose of having a notation is to provide

    a good *textual* method of describing the moves without

    having to draw a complicated ascii diagram for each


    I really don't like the first one. When recording moves,

    you could easily reverse the row and column labels.

    Perhaps more significantly, it seems next to impossible

    to visualize a move in this notation without having a labeled board in front of you.

    The second one seems like a good notation. This one

    gives names to the squares instead of to the dots as

    mine does. Both notations allow easy visualization of

    the move on the board (once you get used to the notations).

    I won't vote between mine and the one on the second link

    because of any bias I might have towards my notation.

    This issue is probably more significant for me because I

    can freely discuss variations as Knox is playing the game

    -- the discussion can't possibly effect Knox's moves. If

    it could, Knox would have beaten Taral 15-10 whereas it

    is now about to win 14-11.

  • Jupp at 2004-07-21

    Your notation is very clear. As a chess-player I'm used to it and prefer it. :)

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