World

Game

Of

Sprouts

Association

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dave boll Nov 16 1992, 6:26 am
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Newsgroups: rec.games.abstract
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Re: Sprouts
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Someone posted an article requesting strategy for the topological game
sprouts. Here's *my* strategy - it may not be all that great, but it's
at least maybe sort of a bit on the right track.
Say you're playing sprouts with 7 dots and you're moving first. Well,
you know that a sprouts game can last at most 3n-1 moves (n=number of
starting dots), or 20 moves in this case. Since you're moving first,
you want the game to last an odd number of moves. So, you make a
table of numbers of possible moves for the game: 20, 19, 18, 17, 16,
etc. (I believe the minimum # of moves in sprouts is 2n or 2n+1).
Now, each time a new 'stranded dot' is created, cross off the highest
number on the list. New stranded dots are created every time you
chop the playing field up into 2 areas that are each guarenteed to
contain a dot that is not totally used up by the game's end.
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Try to get to the part of the game where no more dots can be
stranded with an odd number at the head of the list.
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Beware of creating semi-stranded dots that give your opponent the
option of actually stranding a dot or not (Ex: picture a circle with
4 dots on the perimeter, and with other stuff outside the circle.)
There are cases when you'd want to do this, but be careful.
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This isn't so much a strategy as it is a way of deciding what type of
move to make: a non-stranded-dot move (ex: connect 2 points), a
stranded dot move (ex: encircle an open point), or a semi-stranded
dot move (ex: connect a point to itself, now your opponent has the
option of connecting the 2 dots on the inside or outside of the
circle).
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Perhaps this note is the earliest published description of the strategical concepts of survivors and switches. The note also confers very nice names upon these concepts ("stranded dots" and "semi-stranded dots", respectively.)

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