Keywords: Books & Publications

A.K. Dewdney's masterwork The Planiverse follows the adventures of one Yendred, a denizen of the 2-dimensional world Arde. More than just a response to Edwin Abbott's Flatland, it attempts to explore every aspect of 2-dimensional life (arranged vertically, as opposed to Abbott's horizontal plane). The appendix is rife with details about physics, astronomy, biology, etc. The book has just been re-issued, and not a moment too soon; I lost the copy my father gave me and had to order a used copy from Canada.

On page 202, we find this description:

It is quite an interesting problem to watch a game with which one is totally unfamiliar and try to guess what the rules are. The two astronomers took turns placing pieces of jebb (a type of rock - s) on a board which had been marked off into eleven segments, each having room for only one piece. A long period of thought preceded each move, although sometimes a player would put down his stone and pick up some others.

Later that day Yendred informed us that this was a very popular Punizlan board game called "Alak." One side has white pieces and the other black. If a contiguous set of one color is surrounded (at both ends) by two pieces of the other color, then that player gets to capture all the pieces thus surrounded.

(There's a diagram of the game in the book; hopefully I'll be able to scan it soon and place it here.)

(At the end of the chapter:) After the contact ended, Ffennell (one of the Earth scientists) took a pad of paper and drew a row of eleven squares on it. Then he collected pennies and nickels from everyone in the room.

"The game of Alak," he said, "is basically just one-dimensional Go, a well-known board game here on Earth. Let's try a few games!" I was too tired to stay on, but Lambert and Chan remained to play. The other two followed me out of the laboratory. Dawn was streaking the early Friday sky.

See Alak and Alak0.

Anyone want to try a game of Alak?

-- Scartol

Planiverse last edited by Scartol on June 27, 2003 - 03:39
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