500 Hex Puzzles Hex, Havannah

55 replies. Last post: 2020-10-31

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500 Hex Puzzles
  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-05-20

    I still have some cosmetic changes to make, but you can tinker forever and it's basically ready, so here it is: http://www.mseymour.ca/hex_puzzle/hexpuzzle.html

    I feel like one thing Hex has been missing is a set of tsumego-like problems, so players can practise their tactics and ability to read. These puzzles are intended to be practical - they should hopefully improve your play in real games. Most of these come from actual games, or probable variations from actual games.

    I wanted these to be accessible to people who haven't even played Hex before, so the puzzles start out REALLY basic. The difficulty increases gradually. If you want to jump ahead please finish the brief tutorial first as it explains some important things about the interface.

    I've verified all these puzzles using the Benzene solver (plus some python scripts of my own). This really wouldn't have been possible without the solver, so kudos to it's developers/maintainers. It's always possible a mistake has slipped through though, so let me know if you find one (just please be sure it's a mistake before you email me).

    The “passing” feature will probably annoy some people, but I feel it's important. One of the issues I've had with tsumego problems is that you KNOW it's a problem, and that you have to make the first move to win the situation. But in a real game, you don't have that information; you have to determine the status of the situation (alive/dead/unsettled) before you decide where to play. So I wanted to build that into these puzzles: you have to decide the status (connected or not) first, and if you think you already have the connection, press PASS. I'm still not happy with the text that explains this feature, so if anyone has any suggestions on how to make that clearer, please let me know.

    Please let me know your thoughts, especially if anything is unclear or confusing, or if there are any technical issues with the website.

  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-05-20


  • Arek Kulczycki at 2020-05-20


    That is so beautiful! Marvellous job HappyHippo!

    If only more people were as dedicated to Hex as you are!

  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-05-20

    I reposted this on BGG so anyone with a question or comment could respond there.

  • mmKALLL at 2020-05-20

    This is absolutely incredible. Thank you so much!

  • Force majeure at 2020-05-21

    Amazing job Hippo! Do you plan to expand the tsumego database in the future (or allow other to do so)?

  • JKB ★ at 2020-05-21

    Wow! Thanks HappyHippo! Hex puzzles is really somewhat scarce out there!

  • Russ Williams at 2020-05-21

    Wow, that's a really well-done and helpful problem site! Thanks!

  • mmKALLL at 2020-05-21

    I showed these to my gaming group and got some feedback. As you expected, some got very confused about the passing feature (I should note they are not very proficient at English and didn't fully understand the instructions). After explanation 80-90% of the players thought it was a nice feature, but still a few expressed that they would prefer not having to think about it every single time. Perhaps there should be a setting that allows passing by default, or the feature could be introduced later on? While I agree that positional evaluation is an important part of Hex, I feel that beginners may need more experience with just plain reading and may not fully appreciate the value of playing away.

    All the feedback in general was positive though, and everyone was very impressed. I think this will reignite the group's interest in playing more Hex again :)

  • Arek Kulczycki at 2020-05-21

    Oh, let me comment on the “pass”!

    This is a very good choice Hippo, because it reflects the real decision you make in a Hex game, however this should be rather called “move elsewhere” or in short - Tenuki (term from Go that I use in Hex as well).

    Calling it properly is Tenuki and this would create a common understanding of this term among Hex community. This is what we really need to be able to talk!

  • Tasmanian Devil at 2020-05-21

    I disagree that beginners should be spared from thinking about passing. It is important to not waste moves. Playing an extra move when you are already connected is like killing a dead group in go.

  • Arek Kulczycki at 2020-05-21

    My goodness, this forum is killing me, my whole message is gone. I will write again in a moment.

  • Arek Kulczycki at 2020-05-21

    The message got stored in an img tag so I could retrieve it… :D

    About the “pass” option:

    This is a very good choice Hippo, because it reflects the real decision you make in a Hex game,

    however this should be rather called “move elsewhere” or in short - Tenuki (term from Go that I use in Hex as well).

    Calling it properly is Tenuki and this would create a common understanding of this term among Hex community. This is what we really need to be able to talk

  • Tasmanian Devil at 2020-05-21

    Although “pass” could be replaced by “tenuki” (playing elsewhere).

  • Tasmanian Devil at 2020-05-21

    Oops, posted a few seconds too late. :p

  • Force majeure at 2020-05-21

    Yeah, totally agree with Arek. I've used to be pretty good in Go, and most of good tsumego books were not about making a move, but judging a situation, without even telling who's move is that. In that case you estimate the position as if black goes first then there is a seki, otherwise it is a ko etc. I think that would be too confusing and not interactive enough in this case, and your approach is correct. I would also suggest renaming it as “tenuki” as it's more consistent use of terms and better reflects the nature of the move than simply passing. Maybe this option should be more visible though - not among other control buttons but next to the board and bigger?

  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-05-21

    Hey, wait. I've got a new complaint-

    Regarding tokens with arrows on them, perhaps you should make clear that these tokens are guaranteed connected in the indicated direction regardless of what color tokens may later occupy cells in the region shown? For example sometimes one of the two cells adjacent to the arrowed token and closest to the indicated direction is vacant and within the region. So even if an opposing token occupies that cell, the connection from the arrowed token is still secure. I got a little confused about that at first. Oh woe.

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-05-21

    Thanks everyone!

    “Do you plan to expand the tsumego database in the future (or allow other to do so)?”

    As of right now I'm burnt out on making puzzles ;)

    “Perhaps there should be a setting that allows passing by default”

    That's an intriguing idea. I'll think about that, it wouldn't be too difficult to implement

    Interesting discussion regarding the passing feature, I'm glad to see support for it. I'll think about changing it to “tenuki,” although I fear that the appearance of jargon might turn some people off, particularly new players.

    David, could you give me an example puzzle that caused the confusion?

  • lazyplayer ★ at 2020-05-21

    HappyHippo, I've solved some puzzles, a minor problem is that the “rules of the game” aren't clear. What happens if I click on a wrong move? Do I get notified immediately? Do I get notified after some more moves? In the end I discovered the notification takes some more moves but this was not clear to me.

  • Force majeure at 2020-05-21

    Hippo, you can name it “tenuki - play elsewhere”, or explain what is tsumego in one of your first infomercials.

  • ypercube at 2020-05-21

    As much as I like Go, I personally dislike these terms, for various reasons.

    What about “pass / play elsewhere (tenuki)“? Links to explanations of the terms (tenuki, tsumeki., etc) would help for those who want to learn more.

  • Force majeure at 2020-05-21

    What are those reasons ypercube?

  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-05-21

    Matthew, how about 354

    If we say the arrowed token is at K8, I initially thought maybe black could block white from connecting to the left by putting tokens on J8 and J9. But of course K8 connects left via either K7 or L7.

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-05-21

    David: Ok I see the issue you're describing. I think what I'll do is add another example on the “Info 2” page which shows a more counter-intuitive arrow but explains that you may assume it's connected.

    Lazy: Good point, I'll add more text to explain that, either to the tutorial or the help page.

  • Force majeure at 2020-05-23

    Hippo maybe you could consider allowing marking problems - some are more interesting than other, and I would like to go back to them in the future. It would be easier with some “favourites” feature.

  • vieuxsac at 2020-05-23

    Thanks HH for doing this! The problems are fun, and very useful to a player like me.

  • kspttw at 2020-05-25

    I solved more than 250, but I clear cookies and lost them all :-( Can you add account creating, or something which doesn't base on cookies?

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-05-26

    Oh that sucks :(

    An account or similar would require me to write some sort of backend for the website (it's currently just statically served). I don't have the time or motivation to take on that project right now. But I was considering an export/import feature for your progress, which would let you save your progress to a file and then load it again later. Would that be helpful?

  • kspttw at 2020-05-27

    Yeah, it should be enough.

  • ypaul21 ★ at 2020-05-30

    This is amazing. Thank you. I've printed out a bunch of Go problems and the Twixt problems because I found it really helpful to be able to just stare at them and practice these positions over and over again on paper. Is there any chance you could release a PDF collection of these problems too?

    I love the tenuki element by the way. I feel that if you're really trying the problem, you'll be able to notice if a tenuki is possible or not.

  • Christian K at 2020-06-04

    This is amazing, I am having a lot of fun with it :)

  • spartacu5 ★ at 2020-06-08

    Second the PDF …

  • Maurizio De Leo at 2020-06-08

    Third the PDF, for both this and the strategy guides.

    I have seen too many resources disappear from the internet, to know that printed paper still has a strong place for archiving and conservation purposes, especially on fringe topics like abstract games.

  • blueblimp at 2020-06-09

    This is great.

  • ypaul21 ★ at 2020-06-09

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can’t seem to press the control buttons (prev, pass, next, etc) on on both my iPad and iPhone once I reach Level 7. Most of the tabs at the bottom seem to be unresponsive as well (somehow I’m allowed to hit the Info tab, which unfreezes everything, but everything freezes again once I go back to the main puzzles tab).

    Everything works fine on my computer though.

  • Galdian at 2020-06-09

    Woah, fantastic job!

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-06-09

    Thanks for the comments!

    I'll work on a PDF. Maurizio De Leo, if you want a PDF of the strategy guide, Chrome's print-to-pdf feature seems to produce a reasonable looking result.

    ypaul21: that's concerning. Could you tell me the browser you used? You can send it as a message to me

  • ypaul21 ★ at 2020-06-09

    Just sent you a message. Thanks!

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-06-11

    With ypaul21's help, I've hopefully fixed the iPhone bug (actually a Safari bug). Thanks!

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-06-13

    I've added the feature to save/restore your progress to a file. It's located under SETTINGS, at the bottom, and there's a description on the HELP page.

  • add3993 at 2020-07-13

    Thanks very much for these!

    Small point, I think a split-second delay before the response moves would help users understand what's happening.

  • ypaul21 ★ at 2020-07-16

    I think that ideally, you'd have thought of all the subsequent responses before you place your first stone, so that delay isn't really necessary since you should just be confirming your answer.

  • add3993 at 2020-07-16

    The opponent's responses are not always predictable; when you have the right answer it's just playing out one possible (losing) line of resistance among several.  And while I think we agree about the importance of reading skills, the program should try to accommodate people who make some mistakes or just want to use trial and error. But even when the line is basically unique and anticipated by the player, I definitely feel a slight delay would aid comprehension.

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-07-16

    How slight are you thinking? I've update the page with a setting for a 100ms delay and it seems reasonable. Go to the SETTINGS page and check “Add delay before computer's response.” By default this feature is not enabled.

    Let me know if it's too fast.

  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-07-17

    Heh how about animation? And while you're at it, send me a pizza. In other words, Mr. Seymour I worry you are too nice. This world will chew you up and spit you out. Beware the gears! The gears!

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-07-17

    Heh well I only add features I think are good ideas :)

  • add3993 at 2020-07-17

    Wow, thanks!  That's much better, I think.  I might experiment with ~125-150ms.  It's up to you, but these short delays shouldn't slow anyone down (the mouse is too slow anyway).

  • Boguslaw at 2020-07-24

    I have just solved all the puzzles, I am very grateful to you for them, they helped me find a solution to the situations I was losing before. Once again, thank you very much for those nice moments with puzzles.

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-07-26

    I'm glad you found them helpful! :)

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-10-02

    These are now available as PDFs.

    There are two PDFs, one for the “standard” style and another for the “go” style. The forum won't let me insert these as links for some reason so you'll have to copy/paste the URL:




  • ypaul21 ★ at 2020-10-05

    I just saw this and I'm ecstatic. Thank you!

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-10-06

    If you do print it, let me know how it goes. I don't have a printer so I wasn't able to test how it looks (especially in black and white..)

  • nytope at 2020-10-27

    Very nice ! This comment spoils 198 a bit.

    I just done puzzle 198 and I'm curious about it. Usually, we know we are connected because there are two ways which not overlap each other. Here it seems to lack such pattern and it looks like the best way to know if we're connected is to test a lot of blockers. But it that really so ? Did someone find a good way to be 100% sure we're connected without testing ?

  • HappyHippo ★ at 2020-10-28

    As you say, many problems can be solved by reduction to two or three non-overlapping connections, or by some “standard” ladder techniques (or both). In my notes the ones that can't be solved in this manner I referred to as “messy.” There are quite a few such “messy” problems in the collection, although most are in the higher difficulty levels. These are some of the hardest problems because you have to read out possible lines mentally to confirm that they all work.

  • PFW at 2020-10-31


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