Some years ago I was reading about the game of Nim, then a bit more about the theory of impartial games, and as the rabbithole seemed to go deeper and deeper, I needed some pretext to continue. So I came up with the rules of a simple paper-pencil game that I could try to analyze with the theory that I was reading about. I never managed to fully analyze the game, but it seemed to be reasonably fun to play anyway. Later I found that some very similar games have already been described.

The rules are simple: two players take turns in marking squares on a grid (say, of size 8*8). You can only mark a square if all of its neighbors (including the diagonal neighbors) are empty. The first player unable to move loses.

More details of the game are here.

Recently, I had the pleasure of discovering a website that contains the descriptions of many paper and pencil games, most of them playable on the website against the computer. The site is maintained by David Johnson-Davies. In fact, I found out about the website from him, when he told me that he also included the game I described above. The game is filed under the name “Obstruction game” which very well describes what it is about. You can even play it against the computer. Here is the website with all the games and here is the link to the Obstruction game. There is even a description with some useful strategy-tips.

Happy playing!

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