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MSO will be online TWIXT PP

13 replies. Last post: 2020-06-21

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MSO will be online
  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-06-13

    I received an email from Alain Dekker, asking me to participate in and possibly assist with the MSO Twixt tournament this year, which will be entirely online. The event will be free.

    There are two real time Twixt servers that I know of, boardspace.net and iggamecenter.com If you think you would like to participate this year, I hope you will play a bit on one or both, to get used to how they work. I don't know which one will be used.

    This will be sometime in August. Would you like to attend?

  • Ed Collins at 2020-06-13

    The links were invalid for me.  Let's try this:



  • Maurizio De Leo at 2020-06-14

    I think the MSO field will be much stronger this year, with the constraint of having to travel to London removed.

  • Florian Jamain ★ at 2020-06-14

    Not sure, cause it means that the conditions will be 100% different, so it's not really comparable.

    In London you have to play without any kind of helps, if you take the example of TwixT, you have 15 min, lines are not drawn on the board and you don't have analyzer of course, i can easily imagine how it will go on the internet.

    So yeah maybe the level will increase but the conditions are not the same.

  • Maurizio De Leo at 2020-06-14

    I agree that the two events are not comparable and I prefer “face to face” competition. Internet competition brings its own sets of challenges, like danger of cheating, different time zones, etc. And the gold medal might not be as “valuable” as a face-to-face one.

    However I definitely think that the “field” (i.e. the group of participants) can be much stronger than in London. Cosimo is a good friend of mine and a very good player, but I honestly don't think he is the strongest Twixt player in the world.

    Online we might have Maciej Celuch, yourself, David Bush, Vit Brunner etc. partecipating.

  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-06-14

    Thank you Ed for correcting my mistake.

    Game center runs on any browser I know, and probably any portable device. It has pull down menus for the players to adjust two time variables:

    • Total time per player per game: No timer, 5 min, 10 min, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, or 120.
    • Increment added to your clock per move: 0 sec, 10 sec, 15, 20, 30, 45, or 60.

    The first player to overstep the time control immediately loses with no warning. The time display is updated about every 8 seconds depending on your connection. This is older technology, mostly Javascript, but it still seems to work fine. The 2-d display is a bit small in terms of pixels, but most browsers allow you to magnify the game window with the key combo Ctrl and =+ On my 1920x1080 monitor, the board window fills the screen from top to bottom, while the lobby tab remains at whatever other magnification (or no magnification) that I choose.

    Boardspace requires you to download a client, and in my case (Linux) I also had to download an older version of Java, but I am assured it works anywhere on any device. The board image is a 3-d perspective display which can rotate in 90 degree increments. The pegs and links look like a 3M or Schmidt Spiele set. There is a “flat” option to turn the pegs into disks, which makes it easier to read the board. There is a timer for each player which counts UP, but there is no time control enforced.

    I have proposed to Alain Dekker that a time control of 30 minutes per player per game plus 15 seconds increment be used. If there is a strong field, I want the players to have enough time. Apparently there will be a 4 hour time slot to hold the event. I have been trying to persuade him to give us more time. Since draws are so rare, if N is the number of participants, then ceil(logbase2(N)) could be the number of rounds. So for example if there are 24 participants, 5 rounds should work. If 4 of the 24 are known strong players from the LG rating list, then these strong players might not start playing each other until round 3, so maybe the first 2 rounds would complete in under an hour. If each of the remaining 3 rounds take about an hour, then maybe we could finish in 4 hours and maybe not. Even between strong players, games frequently finish early, so that might work out. But if attendance is  larger than 32, or the MSO admins decide there should be more rounds, the players might have to pay the price with a faster time control. This has happened before, and I don't want it to happen again. Maybe the players could be divided into a beginners pool and an advanced pool. There may well be potential participants who would not even want to play in an advanced pool.

  • CosimoC at 2020-06-16

    I don't know how the organizers will manage this MSO online event, but I know that it will not be easy and it will not be the same thing. Usually in London, we have only 20 minutes for the whole Twixt game and the boards are not marked with the guidelines. Consequently, the level of play is low (a sort of Blitz-Twixt). I saw all my games at the last 2019 MSO. I played “badly”, from an aesthetic point of view (and sometimes I wonder how and why I played so badly), but that “bad” was enough to win, because also my opponents had my difficulties.

    My fear is that someone will use this opportuniy to cheat, for example by using a computer in games in which Master level programs are available (Oware, Othello, LOA, but also Chess). My experience in London is that most players are correct players and also good friends (Florian, Bharat and so on), but I can add also some unpleasant episodes in which the fairplay was forgotten (to say the least), because an MSO medal (even a bronze medal) is always appealing.

    In every case, I am happy to say that, under these circumstances, I will remain “face to face” Twixt World Champion at least until the 2021 :))

  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-06-17

    CosimoC, I completely agree. There are many issues that crop up when going online.

    One of them is just the overall logistics, how to run such a tournament. Should the director announce pairings in the virtual lobby (which is not necessarily well suited for lengthy and detailed announcements) and then expect everyone to find the correct opponent, sit in the correct seat, and set the correct parameters themselves such as the time control? And we do need a server enforced time control if the event has to finish in 4 hours.

    Board Game Arena offers user tournaments, which would be a huge convenience for both the director and the players. IMO the people there do a great (but of course not perfect) job of dealing with cheaters and abusers. BUT it doesn't have Twixt. Michael Katz, Alex Randolph's heir, has not given permission. Since BGA is based in Europe, any US copyright holder would not affect this issue.

    I recently emailed Michael about reconsidering, but the MSO event is only two months away. So even if he miraculously did consent, there would almost certainly be too many hurdles to jump over for this to happen. Sadly, I doubt there will be any MSO Twixt this year.

    BGA puts new games through both Alpha and Beta stages. There would be many details to work out such as

    • how to implement link removal and rearrangement (PP might become an option but standard rules have to be implemented for this tournament.)
    • server recognition of drawn positions (which both the existing real time servers avoid, instead just implementing propose and accept a draw)
    • what to do if one player has a winning position but refuses to complete the chain (which I have never seen, but people are unpredictable)

    We might need Mr. Katz's approval on the final product. And all this in time for the MSO to announce it with enough lead time to draw a crowd? This is not looking good.

  • ypercube at 2020-06-21

    @David Bush, I don't follow.

    Why can't we play at boardspace.net or iggamecenter.com , as per your initial post?

  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-06-21

    We can certainly play there, any time we want. But it probably won't be associated with the MSO. The main reason is, they are both essentially one-person projects and do not have all the features the MSO would want. Board Game Arena has a large team of coders, paid and unpaid, to run the site and contribute new games. But as of now, it does not have Twixt.

  • ypercube at 2020-06-21

    What features are required by MSO?

  • David J Bush ★ at 2020-06-21

    I should mention first this is not my decision, it's Etan Ilfeld's decision. He's with the MSO. So you can discuss it with me all you want but it won't change anything. I will give you his email in a private message if you want. Or just use the MSO contact page.

    For one thing, they want the event to finish within a 4 hour time slot. So the server must be able to enforce a time limit in order to guarantee each round starts on time or earlier. That eliminates Boardspace.

    Have you seen the public chat window on Game Center? It\s 8 lines high, yes you can scroll back, and like I said it's public. There is no private lobby where participants in the tournament can meet. So how does this work? How are you even going to make sure that people who want to play, who register on the MSO website, find their way over to Game Center all at the same time in the first place?  The TD has to explain the time control and other details. Then he announces pairings, who makes the first move is listed first. That's 8 games, probably 8 lines, assuming no one else is talking in this public chat window. Then every participant is expected to find the correct opponent, sit in the correct seat, and then set the game parameters (board size which is default 18 and must be adjusted,) rated game, time control. And these players might be completely new to Game Center. They might not know about the Ctrl + keyboard trick to magnify the board image. So that has to be explained as well. And then with each new round, more pairings announcements. And then at the end, the TD announces the winner. Assuming everyone is still there.

    Compare this to the experience of playing in a tournament on Board Game Arena. Once you have registered there for free, and you register for the tournament, you can get an automatic notification from Google or other social media well ahead of time, and also about an hour before round 1 starts. Click on the provided link and you are taken to the tournament. A popup window will tell you your game has begun. Click on that and start playing your first game, with all the parameters set up correctly for you. Each new round automatically starts on time (or earlier if all games finish early.) The server will calculate the Swiss pairings and will announce the standings at the end of the tournament.

    Yes there are workarounds possible for Game Center. You can create a Twixt game window which is not for a specific game, where everyone can meet. The chat window there has even fewer lines than the public one. But it doesn't matter if you convince me or not.

    Anyway we don't need the MSO if we want to have a tournament on a real time server. We can just go to Boardspace or GC and have one.

  • ypercube at 2020-06-21

    Thnx David.

    Tournament automation and

    time control seem reasonable to be required.

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