Pie Rule

    Keywords: Variant

The pie rule for Go works as follows:

  • Player A plays Black's first move.
  • Player B decides whether to be Black or White.

This rule provides a way to make the game fairer without the use of komi. Although rarely used in Go, the analogous rule (in a different, but equivalent, form) is normal practice for Hex, and the rule can also be used with many other board games. The name refers to the idea of one person cutting a pie in half, and the other person choosing which half to have.

Player A should obviously aim to choose a move that is not too good (so Black doesn't have an advantage) and not too bad (so White doesn't have an advantage). There are 55 essentially different moves to choose from, and the best is probably about 14 points better than the worst, so it's possible that there is at least one point which makes the game entirely fair, in the sense that it would be a jigo with best play.

It's not clear, however, which point (if any) would do the trick. (In a [ext] RGG thread, Simon Goss suggested the 10-2 point, but others felt this was too good. Bill Taylor suggested 2-2.)

On the other hand, the rule "One player chooses komi, the other one chooses sides." (Fair Komi) guarantees jigo for perfect play.

RayTomes In the late 1980s at the NZGS conference I tried unsuccessfully to get the komi in the New Zealand rules increased. So the next year I proposed komi auction where one player would say "I give you 6 points so I can be black" and the other says "7" until one accepts the others offer. I think this is a fair way where each player can always feel happy. This was rejected by the conference on the grounds that an auction required additional skills than go! (LOL) I explained that if you think 6 is fair you bid 6 and accept any higher offer, It requires no skills. I could not get a seconder for my motion! A possible alternative is that if both agree on the same value then nigiri can be done.


Those interested in pie like rules for equalization should look at the opening rules for [ext] Renju, a Gomoku variant. Black chooses the first three moves, then White can change sides. After White 4, played by the new White, Black must pick two moves, and White can select which one stands. After all that, Black still has an advantage, and gets lots of restrictions in the rest of the game.

Bill: That last statement is confusing. Does Black still have an advantage if Black is now White? (The original White switched sides.)

Maybe a different terminology would help. "Player A chooses the first three moves, then Player B chooses whether to play Black or White.... Black still has an advantage."

Pie Rule last edited by axd on November 18, 2009 - 22:39
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