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55Stones - Simultaneous?
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MarkSteere
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ralf, I've been studying the rules to 55Stones, and I have some comments to make, if you will indulge me. I don't know who Cohen is, but I agree with his statement, "Simultaneous play is a strict subset of games with hidden information."

55Stones is not a counterexample to that assertion because 55Stones is not a simultaneous move game. Even though the stones are sown in synchrony, each turn is initiated by the selection of one cup by one of the players. 55Stones is a turn based game.
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MarkSteere
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:45 am    Post subject: Re: what means simultaneous play? Reply with quote

The term "move" must have originated with games such as Chess and Checkers in which the taking of one's turn was accomplished by actually moving pieces. "Move" has since been generalized to mean the taking of one's turn. For example, moving or making one's move in Copolymer consists of coloring in a circle. Nothing is actually moved.

Leaving aside the red herring that is Cohen for the moment, the flaws in your logic are as follows. You are interpreting the term "move" as the component of your turn in which pieces are actually moved, whereas your move is, in common parlance, the execution of your turn.

Your claim that that since not all components of your move are turn based then 55Stones must be a simultaneous move game is fallacious. Conversely, since you are proffering the premise that 55Stones is a simultaneous move game, then players' moves (i.e. execution of their turns) should be entirely simultaneous, which they're not.

More than just not being a simultaneous move game, 55Stones is in fact a turn based game. The only decisive portion of your move is the first part in which you select a pit, something which happens in turn. After the pit selection, the remainder of your move plays out automatically, or by algorithm. It's not like you can select a pit and then vary how the rest of your turn is going to play out. Your move is entirely determined by your pit selection - something, as I said, which happens in turn.

I don't want it to seem like I'm attacking your game, Ralf. I'm not. There were just a couple of items in your analysis which were troublesome for me. For example, in addition to not being a simultaneous move game, 55Stones is also not a perfect information game. In a perfect information game, all of the information is available at a glance, without requiring amazing feats of memory, of which few of us are capable. If a pit contains twelve stones for example, it's not immediately obvious how many stones there actually are. Granted, you could scoop the stones out of each pit and count them all but I believe this practice is generally discouraged if not outright prohibited in many cases.

I have one final observation which I don't have time to investigate so I'll propose it as a question. You claim that draws aren't possible, but I'm wondering if two cooperating players can keep the game going indefinitely.
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Aaron
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that 55Stones is indeed a game of perfect information. I'm not convinced though that it is a game of simultaneous decision making. Sente makes his choice first with no way of knowing what Gote will do. Gote then makes his choice with full information now of how the board will play out. Only the move resolution is simultaneous. In this aspect I must concur with Mark that 55Stones does not contradict Cohen. (BTW, could you post in which book/article Cohen made the statement?) Sure love the game though! Smile

Last edited by Aaron on Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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MarkSteere
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Point taken on the perfect information thing.

When Sente chooses a pit, a decision Gote is aware of before he chooses his own pit, Sente isn't just "deciding" his move. He's openly selecting it. Sente has initiated his move (ie action taken during his turn) ahead of Gote. That's a long way from simultaneous.

For examples of true simultaneous games here on SDG see Pulling Strings and Frames.
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MarkSteere
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:48 pm    Post subject: Re: decision-making Reply with quote

FiveStars wrote:
Ethnologists don't care for decision-making at all. If they see a game in which moves are performed at the same time, they call it simultaneous, they don't care whether the decisions for these move were really made exactly at the same time or not. The same is probably quite true for most gamers who are not interested in maths.


I think the average gamer deserves a little more credit than this. Most of us have a pretty good feeling for the difference between turn based games and simultaneous move games. As I said, the Sente player's selection of a pit is more than just a decision. It's an action. It's an open, incontrovertible, and irrevocable claim. It is the initiation of the Sente player's move. Any game in which one player initiates his move ahead of the other is not going to be considered a simultaneous move game.

FiveStars wrote:
55Stones is also a game of complete information...


As I said, point taken on the complete information thing.
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jeep



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm... to me it seems blatantly obvious that this is not a "simultaneous" game. There is a simultaneous resolution, but that doesn't make it simultaneous. While it might look simultaneous to the casual observer, it certainly wouldn't seem so to me.

So I'm with Mark here (on the use of the term of Simultaneous, anyway).

-JEEP
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Lexicon



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkSteere wrote:
Ralf, I've been studying the rules to 55Stones, and I have some comments to make, if you will indulge me. I don't know who Cohen is, but I agree with his statement, "Simultaneous play is a strict subset of games with hidden information."


It seems to me like Frames is a fine example of a simultaneous game with perfect information. And Pulling Strings as well, I might add. Prior to websites like SDG, I'd say these games were impractical, as there was always the challenge of having both players make a decision without indicating to the opponent what they decided, but even that has been gotten around, just not as elegantly as with this lovely web interface.
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MarkSteere
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lexicon wrote:
It seems to me like Frames is a fine example of a simultaneous game with perfect information.


I hate to keep disagreeing with everybody, but while Frames is a fine example of a simultaneous game, this is precisely what excludes it from the realm of perfect information games.
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MarkSteere
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:07 am    Post subject: Re: ethnological conventions Reply with quote

Ralf, as you pointed out to me, the term "perfect information" has a long established meaning which is not up to me to redefine. By the same token I now point out to you that the term "simultaneous game" has a long established meaning which is not up to you to redefine. This is not a group of ethnologists discussing the history of Mancala games. This is a group of gamers who have their own very clear concept of what a simultaneous game is.

The flaw in your logic is simply this: What you refer to as "decision and execution" is actually just execution and more execution. By claiming a pit and informing your opponent of said claim you have initiated the execution of your turn. And you have initiated said execution ahead of your opponent's doing so, batting 55Stones clear out of the simultaneous game ballpark.

You can describe your game any way you like. That's your prerogative. But to refer to 55Stones as a simultaneous game in any general gaming forum, such as this one, is only going to invite ridicule.

That's all I have to say on the matter. I now leave the badly deflated ball in your court where hopefully it will stay.
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Aaron
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please let's keep things civil.

Not being an ethnologist I cannot speak for traditional Mancala games. Perhaps in a traditional setting we would all agree that "simultaneous" is an apt adjective but that's not where we are. The comments we are making are related specifically to your wording of the rules for 55Stones. By "removing the ambiguity" we are suggesting that the game can no longer be considered "simultaneous" because Gote must wait until Sente claims a pit and then decides and executes based on that knowledge. In games such as Pulling Strings both players actually execute their move at the same time and there are special rules for situations where the same choice is made. For 55Stones to be truly simultaneous the same would have to be true. We are not attacking your integrity nor the game itself. We are simply saying that we disagree with your choice of words in the official rules and therefore certain assertions made therein.

Again, I would really like to avoid a flame-war. Smile
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MarkSteere
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:16 am    Post subject: Re: no longer a discussion Reply with quote

FiveStars wrote:

The flaw in your logic is simply this: What you refer to as "decision and execution" is actually just execution and more execution.

It is a huge difference between a mental process and a physical process.


Ralf, my previous comments were intended to be my final comments, because I thought I had made my argument as clear as humanly possible. But I can see from your response that you're still utterly fogbound. My intent is not to attack you or insult you, but try to understand my frustration here. You are apparently unable to comprehend the rules to a game which you yourself designed!

Here I quote from the rules which YOU wrote:

"East starts. Each move, one player takes the contents of one hole in his hand, then the opponent must take the contents of another hole in his hand. The player who has the privilege to decide first has sente (a Go term), the other player has gote."

ONE player starts by taking the contents of one hole in his hand, a PHYSICAL ACTION! Then the opponent takes the contents of another hole in his hand, ANOTHER PHYSICAL ACTION! The player who has sente performs his physical action FIRST! You have clearly described a PHYSICAL, TURN BASED PROCESS!

Now you're claiming that this whole sente/gote, turn based grabbing of stones is really just a pair of mental decisions? Unbelievable!
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Aaron
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you then suggesting that Sente and Gote could just as reasonably choose a hole to empty at exactly the same instant? If that is so then the entire tenor of the game changes. The distinction of Sente and Gote vanishes and the game truly becomes simultaneous in the sense that most members of the SDG community accept. You are correct that one can define a word to have any meaning you choose. The core of this disagreement comes from the fact that you choose to define the word differently from Mark, me, and others. That's fine. In which case we should all just agree to disagree and move on.

Nobody is "deliberately trying to misinterpret or contort the rules." We are simply stating that because Sente makes a move without knowledge of Gote's intentions whereas Gote acts in full knowledge of Sente's choice that the term "simultaneous" (as defined by us) does not apply. You are welcome to feel differently. These assertions are in no way meant to impugn your intelligence or right to feel differently. I sincerely hope that the "heat" of this thread can begin to subside. I would hate to think people's feelings could get hurt in my little gaming house here. Smile

Good gaming!
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Aaron
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry, but further posts (which I have deleted) have led me to choose to lock the thread. This is the first time I have done so and hopefully the last. I am in no way trying to play the tyrant nor do I wish to appear against free thought and expression. I just sincerely want SDG to be a friendly place for civil discussion and amiable game play. I don't want people's feelings to be hurt. I hope you can understand. Please direct any feedback (positive or negative) to me personally by PM or email.

Good Gaming!
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