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Hex and Twixt
Posted On 8/2/2011
Concluding my three week review series on neoclassical abstract games, is Hex and Twixt. We have referred to Hex and Twixt several times and Greg Costikyan also mentioned them in his talk on randomness, Randomness: Blight or Bane?.
Hex was independently invented by the Danish mathematician Piet Hein in 1942 at the Niels Bohr Institute, and by John Nash in 1947 at Princeton University. You may know John Nash from the 2001 film, A Beautiful Mind.
In Hex, Players play alternately to connect different sides of the board. Thus one player will attempt to connect the north-south edges, while the other will try to connect the west-east edges. A good player will ensure that every attack is also a block and every block is an attack, connecting one's own chain while severing the opponent's.
Placing a piece on the center as the first move is a powerful first-player advantage and thus many play with the the pie rule. The pie rule allows the second player to switch colors with first player after the first move. This will force the first player to make a suboptimal move in fear that if a strong move is made, the opponent will opt to change colors.
Twixt is a connection game similar to Hex, created by Alex Randolph in 1967. Although the games look different -- Twixt uses a square grid rather than Hexes -- the feel and strategy of the two games are nearly identical. If Hex is a knife fight in a telephone booth, Twixt is a sword fight in a closet.