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A question for curiosity: is there a significant advantage for white because of the first move? Would it make sense to use a swap rule like in Hex? (one player makes the first move, then the other may swap sides)
I think I disagree with your input to that earlier thread, Taz. A 1-square handicap to white is not equivalent to permitting black 1 pass. There might be a black zugzwang eaerlier in the game, and a pass then would have a greater value than just one square. (I presume such situations exist, I often get the feeling that any move I make costs me more than 1 square, but maybe I’m just not very good at the game, perhaps both.)
I don’t like handicaps to rectify imbalances, as they are magic numbers based on guesswork. Swapping is game-theoretically more sound, and I believe is never an inferior option.
Taz’s “passing rule” may be adapted easily: if you cannot move, you lose a flag. Black has N flags due to balancing matters. (I’m not saying i find it a good solution, or even that Black has a disavantage ;)
I should mention that I didn’t come up with it myself; it was mentioned in a paper about Amazong’s evaluation function (or something like that) as a possible way of eliminating the first move advantage.
I think, white has an advantage, probably more than one point. Since most games ends before the exact result is obvious, it is dificult to “count” the average advantage (or disadvantage) of white.