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July 24 2017

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Plus ca change. 

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--sehrmerkwuerdig on Twitter
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July 22 2017


Clifford's Rules for Hidden Move Go

Nick Sibicky recently uploaded three videos to his youtube channel of him playing Hidden Move Go with Andrew Jackson. As someone interested in Go and AI I think Hidden Move Go would be an extremely interesting game for serious competitions, because unlike plain Go, Hidden Move Go is an imperfect information game. However, as Nick explains in the second half of his third video, there are some weird corner cases in Hidden Move Go that prevent it from being a game played in competitions. In the following paragraphs I'd like to outline a set of rules that are different from the rules of Hidden Move Go, but equivalent for almost all game situations. As far as I can tell this rules avoid the corner cases.

The big difference to regular Hidden Move Go is that in this version the hidden moves are not considered on the board before they are revealed. There is no "hidden board" with the complete information. Instead revealing a hidden move is equivalent to making an extra move in the current turn. Revealing a hidden move can be used to undo the other players last move, creating the illusion that the stone was always there and that the opponents last move was therefore illegal.

The Rules

This rules are based on AGA rules, but could easily be adopted to Japanese or Chinese rules.

Before the first regular move is played each player writes his three hidden moves on three index cards. (The cards are kept so that the opponent can not see the hidden moves. Depending on the setting the players may chose to show their hidden moves to spectators.)

Each turn the current player may reveal any of his or her hidden moves before playing the regular move. A player may not reveal a hidden move if (1) the other player already has a stone on the position and it was not the last stone the other player has played or (2) the other player already has a stone on the position and the current player has already revealed other hidden moves in this turn or (3) revealing the hidden move would be suicidal. The hidden move may capture stones.

For each revealed move the player places the corresponding stone on the board. If the revealed move is on the position where the other player placed his last stone, then the current player places his stone on that position and gives the other players stone back to the other player. This ends the players move and the other player can chose a different move. If the "illegal" move captured some stones then the other player has to put them back on the board on his own time before making a new move.

Revealing a hidden move may create a board position that existed before, but the regular move played afterwards must create a new board position. It is illegal to recreate an earlier board position by revealing a hidden move and then pass on the regular move.

A card with hidden move can only be revealed once. But it is legal to write the same move on multiple cards and use the second hidden move after the first revealed stone is captured.

At the end of the game each player has to reveal their remaining (unused) hidden moves, if they have any, and give a passing stone for each of them to their opponent.

Discussion of some differences to regular Hidden Move Go

In regular Hidden Move Go a hidden move must be revealed when the opponents move would be suicidal because of the hidden move. In this version the suicidal move is OK and the stones can be captured by the other player by revealing the hidden move.

In a Ko fight it is possible that one player has a hidden move in one of the eyes. This would allow the player with the hidden move to fix the Ko at any time. Either by fixing with the hidden move, or by capturing with the hidden move and then fixing with the regular move that follows. That the same position as the hidden move was possibly played and captured many times before does not matter.

With this rules it is not possible to capture a hidden stone.

In this rules it is possible to simply not reveal a hidden stone in situation where one would have to reveal it in the regular rules. One possible motivation would be when the hidden stone is not very useful and the player considers it more advantageous to use the unrevealed stone to "bluff" somewhere else on the board.

When both players put a hidden move on the same position then whoever reveals it first has a stone on that position. When that stone is captured the other player is again free to reveal his hidden move and put his hidden stone on that position.

Interpretation and conclusion

With this set of rules I like to think of the hidden moves as stones hiding inside the board (or military units hiding in the woods, if you are like to think of Go stones as military units). Other stones do not interact with them in any way until they come out of hiding. But in some cases it would become illegal for them to come out of hiding and thus are captured in hiding, which fits nicely with the passing stones for unused hidden moves.

In the large majority of games and game positions I think this rules would be equivalent to the regular rules of Hidden Move Go. There might of course be some positions where the regular rules would produce an "epic moment" and this rules won't, and vice versa. I'll leave it to you to discuss this pros and cons below in the comments.

I have not spend an enormous amount of time thinking through all the possible corner cases, so please feel free to leave a comment below if you think you have found that some weird situations for which my rules may be problematic. I'd be happy to discuss them and modify this blog post to work around the issues, if possible.

July 21 2017

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July 20 2017

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It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
— Confucius
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July 19 2017

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