Archive for category: Games and Diversions

The Fhourstones Benchmark

April 23, 2010 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

The game Connect Four is a pretty neat little game, which was solved back in 1988 by two different individuals: James Allen and Victor Allis. It makes a pretty nifty benchmark too, called Fhourstones. My modern desktop evaluates over 10 million positions per second, and can solve the entire game in about 3 minutes. Pretty […]

Rules of Awari

April 14, 2010 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

Jonathan Schaeffer used to have a page that contained the rules for Awari that are typically used in computer play. Through the miracle of the Internet Wayback Machine, you can look them up here: Rules of Awari.

Counting Awari Positions…

April 13, 2010 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

Previously I wrote a simple program to compute the number of positions that are legal in Checkers. I thought I might perform the same analysis for the game of Awari. The simplest approximation that you can get is by counting the number of ways that n undistinguished stones can be distributed in m distinguished pits. […]


April 11, 2010 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

Checkers is driving me nuts. I thought maybe I should implement a different board game, just for variety. Chess and Othello seemed obvious, backgammon might be fun, but games from the Mancala family also seemed interesting. What’s more, you can even buy a cheap Chinese-made Mancala set at Target. Which I did. Apparently Awari has […]

Classic Board Games for Computer Implementation?

March 25, 2010 | Checkers, Computer Science, Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

So, my experiments with my checkers program Milhouse have been fun and interesting. There is still work to be done: I don’t think a machine that can’t properly play first position can be reasonably said to be a good checkers player (even though I still make errors while practicing it myself against Cake), but I’ve […]

A simple, naive implementation of a MasterMind solver

November 22, 2009 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

Okay, I woke up this morning, and decided to code up a version of a MasterMind solver. About fifteen minutes later, I had this tremendously slow implementation, which nevertheless seems to solve patterns very pretty quickly (averaged just 4.71 guesses in the short run of 100 trials that I just ran. It’s tremendously slow though, […]

Investigations into the Master Mind Board Game

November 21, 2009 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

Over at the Programming Praxis blog, the task of the day is to write a program to solve the game Mastermind. Mastermind is actually a fairly interesting game mathematically speaking, and has a fairly rich set of mathematics behind it, and yet it’s actually small enough to analyze easily using modern computing power. I might […]


May 20, 2008 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

Work on my checkers program milhouse has stalled a bit: I have a problem in the transposition tables that is fighting against my endgame database attempt, and it’s subtle enough that I haven’t had time to work it out. I’ve been relaxing by reading some more about other board games, and have begun to read […]

Olithink: a small, competent chess program

April 8, 2008 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

I don’t know if any of you have noticed that you can see some of the things that I’ve posted on the current day in previous years on the left. I find it nice to recycle topics which I might have talked about in previous years and bring them back to the top of my […]

Sudoku enumeration

January 20, 2006 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

Here’s a page that answered some of my questions about Sudoku. Sudoku enumeration Now, if only it could answer the most pressing question I have: why am I so slow at them? Technorati Tags: Puzzles, Recreational Math, Sudoku

Pong is 34 years old today! Happy Birthday Pong!

November 29, 2005 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

According to digg, pong is celebrating its 34th anniversary today. Feh. I’m older than that. Sniffle. Bonus links: Wikipedia has some nice info, including a link to William Higinbotham’s Tennis for Two game developed at Brookhaven National Labs. Oh, and the animated gif on the right? Screendumps from the CHIP-8 emulator I wrote a few […]

Visualizing the code of Atari 2600 games

November 22, 2005 | Games and Diversions, Link of the Day | By: Mark VandeWettering

Ben Fry has some cool graphics which visualize the code in several old Atari 2600 video games. Basically, he disassembles code and marks all possible branches with arcs between the lines of code, and changes all data tables to graphical representations of the bit patterns, revealing many sprites and other data tables. I dunno how […]

Tinkering with Tinkertoys Zometool

November 17, 2005 | Games and Diversions | By: Mark VandeWettering

Zome is a nerd toy that allows you create all sorts of amazing polyhedral models. Some people are more serious about them than others. Addendum: A couple of days ago, I picked up one of those generic “ball bearing and magnet” sets that allow you to build similar structures at Walgreens. It was $9.99 for […]

Gutenberg Gem: The Boy Mechanic: Volume 1 by Popular Mechanics

November 15, 2005 | Games and Diversions, Gutenberg Gems | By: Mark VandeWettering

Wow. Very cool to take this step back in time and see what young hackers in 1913 were doing. A lot of lame stuff, but some gems, like a line harmonograph, a “key card” for writing secret codes on post cards, handcutting gears and racks for models, a miniature “Pepper’s Ghost”, and a homemade water […]

Gutenberg Gem: Amusements in Mathematics, be H.E. Dudeney

September 20, 2005 | Games and Diversions, Gutenberg Gems | By: Mark VandeWettering

A classic of puzzles (most of which I would call only marginally mathematical) Amusements In Mathematics, by Henry Ernest Dudeney. has been made available via Project Gutenberg. Lots of puzzles having to do with geometric dissection, board games, and a host of other topics. Very nice.