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Twixt nomenclature and a bit of history TWIXT PP

6 replies. Last post: 2021-06-19

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Twixt nomenclature and a bit of history
  • CosimoC at 2021-06-17

    Since I read that wikifoundry disappeared, I would mention that there is another web resource, if someone is interested in learning at least the nomenclature.

    You can find it at https://www.hiespielchen.de/twixt_einfuehrung/index.htm It is in German, but you can try with the online translators. This resource is the Edi Fullemann's booklet that was attached with the Kosmos 1998 Twixt edition. In my opinion, it is interesting only from an “historic” point of view, and not to learn “modern” Twixt.

    On the other hand, the nomenclature based upon Greek Mythology was introduced around the '80s by Andreas Kleinhans, one of the best Twixt players of those years. The Klee 1990 edition should have been accompanied by an handbook for beginners (in German of course!) written by Kleinhans. However, for reasons that I ignore, the Klee edition was accompanied only by a poor booklet in which there were only the rules and a couple of games (one by Randolph, one by Kleinhans). The project of handbook by Kleinhans remained incomplete, but it is interesting to read the parts that survived in the Alex Randolph's Studio. Kleinhans showed the first tactical themes that were analysed (and they are still valid today!).

    But this is another story, and I will tell you in the future.

  • David J Bush ★ at 2021-06-18

    Thank you for supplying this historic resource!

    There is one detail I am curious about, regarding the introduction of the pie rule. Klaus Hussmanns told me he was one of the players who suggested an opening protocol to make the game more interesting, after the 3M edition came out. Was Herr Kleinhans involved in that discussion as well? I would be grateful for any clue.

  • CosimoC at 2021-06-19

    First, the facts. The pie rule is absent in the 1962 3M edition of Twixt. It appeared for the first time in the 1979 Schmidt edition. This edition had a great success in Germany, and Twixt soon entered into the “auswahlliste” of the first 1979 Spiel des Jahres. As a consequence, Alex Randolph wrote regular columns on Twixt from the first issue of the magazine Spielbox (1981) until 1986. The famous booklet with “40 problems of Twixt”, that is present in the 1990 Klee edition and in the 1998 Kosmos edition (and somewhere on the Web), was a collection of the problems that he published on Spielbox. In the 5/1985 issue of Spielbox, for the fist time Randolph hosted some analysis from a young Andreas Kleinhans. For the first time we read about the “Zeus Defence” (Zeus is 2:1. In Greek mythology, Zeus was the ruler of the universe, and thus it is appropriate if his name was associated with the Twixt 2:1 pattern).

    And the pie rule? In the 4/2017 issue of Spielbox, “L.U.Dikus” published an article about the pie rule. It seems that the oldest reference to this rule is in the Sachsenspiegel, a compilation of German legal texts of the 13th century. It was used for inheritance cases. The first game that was cited in the Spielbox article is Twixt. “L.U.Dikus” wrote that in the the '70s, Tom Werneck had a couple of talks with Alex Randolph about the pie rule. This is a crucial date, because the pie rule is present since the 1979 Schmidt edition. Tom Werneck (beyond many other things) is a writer, an author of games, a former member of the Spiel des Jahres jury, the Director of the Bavarian Games Archive (some 20,000 games; some 3,500 books, and other documents). I met him many times starting from 1999. We had pleasant talks about games; he kindly hosted me in his Archive, but I have never spoken with him about Twixt and pie rule. Thus I cannot report anything on this topic.

    However, there is another opportunity. Youtube published an interview with Werneck.


    At the minute 2' and 10” he spoke about Twixt; at the minute 3' and 40” he spoke about the pie rule. I can catch something of the German language, but I do not speak German. Thus, if some of the German speaking friends can translate what Tom Werneck is saying in the interview, we will know something more.

  • Loony at 2021-06-19


    He got into boardgames as an adult, bought a random game that didn't quite work so he rewrote the rules and noticed that rules are not laws, they can be changed. Then he bought a second game, TwixT. When he was the starting player he would always win, no matter what. He told that to the company that published the game, and they set up a meeting with the author (Alex Randolph) on a boardgame fair. They met in a random little “broom closet” (hard to translate that one, it's the closest I can think of). They played a few games, Werneck always started but lost every single game and Alex told him: “You know what, I always thought that TwixT is  determined, i.e. that someone who makes the first move and knows the rules can always win. But I think on a slightly higher level than you are playing, just like chess is probably also determined. Probably white has a slight advantage.” Then he (Randolph) said something has to be done about it and he developed the pie rule, i.e. the first player makes a move and the other player can then choose if he continues with his color or the other one.

    Werneck tells this story after the interviewer asked him how he got into games.

    Pretty cool to hear about.

    This was from min 2 to min 4.

  • CosimoC at 2021-06-19

    Thank you, Loony. I remember Randolph's joke, reported by Werneck: ”Twixt is determined, but not at the level you played it”. However, in the circumstance in which he reported this joke, Werneck added nothing about the pie rule. As a personal comment, it is true that Editors organised at the main game fairs a space in which Randolph encountered his “pupils”. He discussed and played with them. As an example, here is a picture from the '80s, a simultaneous exhibition, probably at the Essen Fair. Do you know someone?

  • David J Bush ★ at 2021-06-19

    This is great stuff, thank you all so much! I don't have any documentation for my claim that Klaus Hußmanns suggested the pie rule to Mr. Randolph. It's just something Klaus mentioned to me once. And I never heard that Andreas Kleinhans was involved. It just seems like a reasonable supposition.

    Cosimo, thank you for the reference to 13th century texts for the origin of the term “pie rule” (at least, according to this L. U. Dikus)

    Here is an updated link to the 40 puzzles Mr. Randolph composed, plus 20 more: https://www.ibiblio.org/twixtpuzzles/

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