Should the initial grid be changed? Dots and Boxes

11 replies. Last post: 2004-05-25

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Should the initial grid be changed?
  • Ed Collins at 2004-05-06

    Hi gang,

    For the past few hours I've been doing some online research on Dots & Boxes, and what I'm finding is fascinating. Yes, I was already familiar with the rules, having played it as a kid (who hasn't?) but I knew nothing of tactics or strategy.

    Initially, before my research, I thought the 5x5 game might be solved. It certainly seems like such a small board would be. For example, most of us here know that Connect 4 (the 6x7 commercial game) has been solved. (It's a wind for the first player.) Fortunately the 8x8 game has not. If my memory is correct, Hex has been solved on 7x7 and smaller boards. However, it appears that Dots and Boxes on the 5x5 game has not been solved. This, or course, is ideal.

    However, I've already seem several sites with Java applets and other sites with programs one can download, and play Dots & Boxes against strong computer opponents. And most of these programs allow the player to set the initial board size, both in terms of height and width.

    Wouldn't it make sense to create some type of unique board/grid for this server, so that players can't use an existing computer program to assist them?

    For example, something like this:

    This, of course, is just one of MANY possible boards/grids. Notice I simply added room for eight more boxes. Other possibilities can be even more extreme, including removing one or more of the middle boxes.

    A new initial board/grid is limited only by your imagination. And, of course, other ideas to prevent known computer programs from giving assistance, in addition to or besides changing the grid, are certainly possible.

    The hardest part might be adapting the current code to the new board, depending upon the skill of the program and how well it was written.

    To me, a novice Dots & Boxes player, it doesn't seem as if a change in the initial grid would change the tactics or strategy much at all. A good player should be able to adapt immediately to the new layout.

    Of course, it could always be offered as a variation.

    Your thoughts, please.

  • michael at 2004-05-06

    Yes, any board size would do, the strategy stays the same. Though your particular board, looks almost the same as what we are playing, you would just need to cut off the isolated squares from the edges (with a vertical or horizontal line, just do that in the first few moves, it's always possible). People who know the basic strategies for this game, know that the online available programs aren't that strong (a bit like go i suppose, once u know the technique u'd win all your games vs existing programs). For the ones that are willing to learn: this site is made for yahoo dots which is 4x4 squares (5x5 dots), but the strategy is the same for every board, so it's quite helpfull :)

  • Judy at 2004-05-11

    The change I would like to see is to remove the light blue lines on the board. I think just having the dots makes it easier to see the positions. Am I the only one who is easily confused???

  • klaashaas at 2004-05-11

    I have to admit the board does make me a littlebit crazy (it reminds me of this (count the black dots :-)) Removing the light blue lines isn't a good idea IMO, because then you don't easily know where to click to connect two dots.

  • michael at 2004-05-11

    One thing i would change is that the player's moves show as their color.

  • Ronald Lokers at 2004-05-11

    On the PBeM server ( the game starts with a grid that is partially filled randomly. This makes for a quicker, and less predictable game. I would like it that way here as well.

  • michael at 2004-05-11

    Yes, that would be fun, but then the board must be a bigger size. Just a few random moves on a 6x6 board the win/loss is already clear.

  • Foul Ole Ron at 2004-05-12

    Another small change I'd like to see: can the player's names be included (SGF style, for example) in the TXT description op the game, like in other games?

  • Foul Ole Ron at 2004-05-12

    I've added Dots & Boxes to my game conversion program ConvertPGN; it produces Dabble (.dbl) files if you paste the TXT description into it.

    Since there are no names or game number in the TXT, it won't generate an automatic file name (like it does for IYT Go, LG Go, IYT Reversi, LG DVONN).

    Send me a message if you want to try the program.

  • safe at 2004-05-24

    I have not even played a single game on computer of . and boxes however, we used to place 4 solid blocks on the board when we drew out the dot grid..these are nuteral boxes they arent captured for value, another version we had a box with a three in it,we were children..whatta we know:)

  • Knox (Computer) at 2004-05-25

    The 4-box by 4-box game and the 3-box by 5-box game have

    been solved leaving the 4-box by 5-box game the smallest

    unsolved size. That being said, the 5 x 5 game at this site

    seems a little small. I've played a little 6 x 6 and IMO

    this is better size.

    For larger boards, I do like the suggestion of having an option to start with a small number of initial random moves.

    This would speed up the early play where any strategy is

    beyond human understanding and would lead to increased

    variety of play.

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