Rules of the dots game

Since the appearance and until recently, dots developed in a purely amateurish format. There was no centralized community at all, there were no unified approaches to the rules of the game. This gave rise to a large number of variations, both quite interesting and highly questionable.

Since the middle of the 2000s dots enthusiasts united around popular online projects and have done a great job of unification and standardization, which logical completion has turned into a competition standard that now officially approved by the Sevastopol club of Sport Dots..

Sports Dots. Rules of the game

This format will determine the development of dots as a sports discipline. As for the aforementioned amateur variations, they, of course, will not go anywhere and continue parallel existence, recalling the romantic period in the history of the game.

Therefore, in spite of the fact that our project is focused on sport development, we tried to assemble the most complete set of varieties of dots in the Application, leaving the users to decide for themselves whether to follow the general line or remain faithful to old habits.

Below is a brief description of basic and additional rules, as they were implemented in the Application.

1. Playing field and dots.

The game is played on a flat field, lined with the perpendicular lines vertically and horizontally. Players in turn put dots of two colors in the crossings of these lines. Crossing, where a dot was put, is occupied until the end of the game. You can’t move or delete the previously set dots. All crossings of the playing field are equal. Players, at their discretion, can put dots in any free crossing at any stage of the game (except for the games played without a crossing, as will be stated later). The edge of the playing field is an insurmountable obstacle, and cannot be used to encircle dots. The size of the playing field is determined by the number of squares in the vertical and horizontal directions and can vary widely.

2. Encirclement.

The main technique of the game and its main purpose is the encirclement. Encirclement – is the creation of a certain area on the playing field, that is closed by a continuous chain of dots of the same color, separated by no more than one square horizontally, vertically or diagonally. If opponent’s dots (one or more) are positioned inside this area at the time of encirclement, the area is painted over and excluded from the further game. The opponent’s dots inside this area are considered surrounded (except for the games for territory, as will be stated later).

If there aren’t any opponent’s dots inside the closed area, this area is not the encirclement; it is called the “house”. The area is not painted over in this case and it is allowed to put dots in empty crossings inside it. Moreover, it is allowed to put dots of the same color as the house into it, until all empty crossings in it are occupied. If a dot of another color is placed into this area, the house is painted over at the moment of move’s transfer, and this dot, respectively, is considered surrounded. There is an exception, when the dot of a different color is placed into a house and at the same time it forms a new encirclement of its own color. Then this dot is not surrounded. It encircles the part of the opponent’s house.

The system selects a dots chain of minimum length if the new encirclement has branches which allow drawing the encirclement line through them.

3. Initial crossing.

There are two types of the starting position for the game: an empty field and a field with the initial crossing. In the first case there are no dots on the field and both players put their first dots in any place of the restricted area in the center of the field (starting with the second move of each player this restriction is removed). It’s done in order to avoid unproductive debuts when players make their first moves at the edge of the field, eliminating the possibility of encirclement. In the second case, the players begin the game with a specific starting configuration – crossing, consisting of the equal number of dots of both colors. Crossing can be located exactly in the center of the field and be single or double. The game can be also started with a few single or double crossings, which are randomly placed on the field before the game.

4. Scoring.

In a game without territory the game result is determined only by the number of surrounded dots. The winner is the player who at the end of the game has surrounded for at least one dot more than the opponent has.

In the game for territory not only surrounded dots are important. The number of empty crossings inside the encirclements (that are not painted over at the player’s request) is accounted. Accordingly, during the game the player is given a choice after each move, leading to the new encirclement. He can paint the area over, excluding it from the game, or postpone this painting, leaving the area accessible to the putting of new dots in empty crossings.

In the first case only the amount of opponent's surrounded dots is scored up (one dot - one point, credited immediately).

In the second case, at the end of the game after the automatic painting of all the areas surrounded by the players, the points for the territory are scored up (apart from the points for the surrounded dots) – 0.5 point for every empty crossing inside these areas. The smaller number of one player’s points for the territory is subtracted from the larger number of another player. Then the difference is added to the points for surrounded dots of that player who has surrounded more territories. This reveals the winner.

The encirclements that haven’t been painted over immediately can be painted over by the player later in the course of the game (only on his/her move).

5. Landing.

A game without territory can be played with a landing rule or without it. Landing is a situation that occurs at the moment when one of the players, having gained an advantage in the number of surrounded dots, has arranged his own dots (groups of them) in such a way and in such a configuration that they can’t be surrounded, even theoretically, because of the limited size of the field. At this moment he is receiving the right to stop the game and to become a winner ahead of time.

6. Extra move.

In the game without an extra move, the right for making a move passes to the opponent immediately after the creation of a new encirclement.

In the game with an extra move, the player who has surrounded one or more dots of the opponent is entitled to make a move out of turn immediately after the new encirclement was created.

7. Instant win.

In this kind of game there is a preset number of surrounded dots that ends the game automatically. The player who has surrounded this number of dots is the winner.

8. Game time.

When the opponents play on paper the game time is not generally limited. In computer version there are different systems of countdown.

In the "Sports Dots" application, two options are available. The first player is given a time margin that is irreversibly spent only when the player could not make his next move for a predetermined time per move. In the second variant, which is widely known under the name “Fisher's clock”, the time margin starts to be spent immediately, but immediately after the turn, a predetermined time per turn is added to it.

There is an exception in time settings – the blitz game with a random point. Both players have no time reserve. There are 5 seconds for a move. Under these settings if one player doesn’t make his next move in five seconds, the game doesn’t end with the opponent’s victory. Instead, the system automatically sets the dot in a random location on the playing field, and the move passes to the opponent.

Time settings are adjusted by the players at their own discretion.