Taming Low Life Force Double Switches

Double switch fights, when the switches are nearing depletion such that either switch can immediately be converted to a one survivor or two survivor component, are easy to understand. Each player tries to avoid so reducing either switch, since to do so would allow the other player immediately to convert the other also in a manner winning for him. Waiting moves are required from each player.

I used to think that such positions are typically combinatorial feasts, requiring impressive trees of analysis from each player. But now I think otherwise. It seems to me now that as the players struggle to keep each switch a switch, each switch will almost certainly acquire an air bag, and the presence of air bags will let the remainder of each switch reduce to a single cannibal. In its last gasp a switch will consist of an airbag and one other cannibal - three cannibals in all.

Determining who will win such a struggle, then, is as easy as determining the winner of a routine cannibal war, and the technique is in fact identical. For instance, if two such switches are the only biospheres in a given position, the winner will be the player to move when there are an odd number of cannibals.

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