Saturday, July 09, 2005


Well, as you can see, I couldn't resist attempting to design a SUDOKU-based game. Here are the rules and stuff --


For three players

The AIM: For each player, the aim is to fill rows, columns or 3x3 boxes with complete sets of critters. The player who places the final critter in a row/column/box claims it as his/her own.

The RULES: (revised since yesterday)Players take turns to place ONE critter at a time. Placements must conform to the standard rules of SUDOKU -- i.e., there can be only one of each critter per row/column/box. Once a critter is placed, it cannot be moved or removed. There is no restriction on placements that may block FUTURE valid placements -- i.e., players are not required to play in such a way that the whole board can be correctly filled up. However at the time of each placement, it MUST be valid. Players do not have the option of skipping a turn, even if it means making a disadvantageous move.

WINNING: The player with the most rows/columns/boxes is the winner. Given that the game will very likely be blocked by invalid moves, I am guessing that the typical game will end in deadlock, with no winner. Therefore it's to the advantage of all players NOT to block the board with placements that will lead to deadlock -- but not necessarily to the advantage of the individual player.

THE METHOD (for this blog-version) I moved first*, followed by PRAMOD and MINAL, who have very kindly agreed to play along. In theory, anyone can join in the game, by leaving moves in COMMENTS (NOT as e-mail, pls!) which I will incorporate on the board and post here from time to time -- I'm planning to do this a couple of times a day -- but in practice, it's very likely that Pramod and Minal will be the only players. I will only incorporate those moves which follow the 1-2-3 pattern -- i.e., if someone posts a move out of turn, I will not incorporate it.

At this moment, it makes sense to me if the three of us continue our moves in rotation, through COMMENTS without waiting for me to upload the changed board each time. This way, the game will go quicker (after all, we have 81 potential squares to fill up!!) We can keep track of the game on our own stored versions -- then I can upload the day's moves all together at, say, midnight IST (New Delhi).

So is this clear? I will include moves based on those which get posted to COMMENTS here. I will place my own moves every third time. I will only change the board at the end of the day.

And ... please, anyone, correct me if I make incorrect placements on the board!

The moves so far:

MARGINALIEN: FLAMINGO (9) to 3C; CAMEL (6) to 4G; CAT (3) to 7D





July 12th

MINAL: SWAN (5) to 6A



July 13th



July 14th


MINAL: LOBSTER/SCORPIO(7) to 5G; PENGUIN (1) to A9; GOAT (2) to B5

MARGINALIEN: CAT(3): 1E; CAT(3): 5I; CAT(3): 9G


July 15th

MINAL: FLAMINGO (9) to 4B; PENGUIN (1) to 8D; CAT (3) to 6F
MARGINALIEN: CAMEL(6) to 5C; FLAMINGO(9) to 5D; SWAN (5) to 5F
PRAMOD: GAZELLE (4) - 6B; PENGUIN (1) - 6C; CAT (3) - 4C

July 18th

MINAL: PENGUIN (1) to 3B; SWAN (5) to 2H; LOBSTER/SCORPIO (7)to 7E


July 19th



PRAMOD: FLAMINGO (9) to 8E; GOAT(2) to 8F; RACCOON (8) to 7F

July 20th

MINAL: CAMEL(6) to 1B; SWAN (5) to 7B; CAT(3) to 8B


PRAMOD: RACCOON(8) to 6E; SWAN (5)to 4I; CAMEL(6) to 8A

JULY 22nd

MINAL: GOAT(2) to 3G; CAMEL(6) to 7H; GAZELLE(4) to 8G
JULY 23rd


... at long last, I have updated the board with the next few moves! Sorry, sorry, sorry.

AUG 8th: Pramod:

GOAT(2) to 6D

GOAT(2) to 1A

GAZELLE (4) to 1C -- Pramod gets 8 pts for column C

Aug 10th: Minal:

CAT (3) to 2A -- Minal gets 8 pts for box

CAT (3) to 3H

GAZELLE (4) to 3I -- Minal gets 7 pts for box.

*I made three opening moves, just to start the game off.

Also, for the sake of completeness, the names of the critters are:



Pramod said...

First thank, there is slight improvement in the font size - but the line that shows when it was posted and the link to comments is still rather miniscule.

Let me make a move on this online game - Penguin E5.

Why dont you give each of the animals a number too - for those of us who are more comfy with numbers than pictures ;-)

Marginalien said...

Oh cool! Thanks Pramod -- I'll add your move and upload the new board. I am considering a change in the rules -- which I'll add to the existing post so that both the previous rules and the new ones will be visible -- I may need to do that for a short while, in order to make the steps of each evolution apparent.

Marginalien said...

-- oh -- and about type-size? I'm wondering if you can change YOUR screen resolution? That may be the reason you see the text faces in miniature -- they're "normal" for my screen res. Just a thought. I don't especially like big type sizes ...

Pramod said...

Sure, pls. keep updating the rules as the game progress - ultimately you could end up with a rather stable game :-) I can already foresee a board game developing here!

Regarding the font sizes, just take a look at the following two screenshots. This is same on my mac and on the pc (tried using firefox, safari and ie; these screenshots are from firefox on a mac)

Here you can see the current size and the previous one - you can see why I was complaining..:-)

Perhaps you might want to try and change the template...

Minal said...

Hi Manjula,

Really sorry for not replying over the weekend, hope you got my mail.
Anyway I'm in, I would not mind B/C/D long as I play;-)

My move:No.7:Scorpio H8

Marginalien said...

*sigh* yes, the template is where I'd need to make those changes. Meanwhile, I visited the second of your links and couldn't see screen shots (no doubt my slow server is at fault) -- however I DO know now that I'm an obsessive/compulsive paranoiac! O joy.

I'll dig into the template whenever next I upload a revised board.

Meanwhile, it occurred to me last night that this version of the game feels a bit like a multi-player model of TIC-TAC-TOE.

Marginalien said...

Hi Minal! Just saw your post -- will include your move and upload later this afternoon. Thanx a ton!

Pramod said...

no doubt my slow server is at fault No this time its me...he he he -> The link should be

Indeed, a multi-player tic-tac-toe but actually this will be much more fun in the sense that this will be rather long and it will actually get quite interesting after the first few blocks are filled in!

But I wonder what would be the solution to make this a solvable puzzle in all situations - I am sure that there should be some simple logic that can be added to the rules to make that happen. Hope that comes out during this online game here :-)

Marginalien said...

All right -- I've made my move. Your turn Pramod ... and I haven't changed the template yet, sorry. I'll do it late at night.

Pramod said...

7 I1

Marginalien said...

Okay, done. With your move, Pramod, we can see now that the placement of "7" in middle box first column will determine whether or not we will choose to guarantee that the game will be deadlocked (at least partially) or not. I am not sure it matters ... in order for this to be a game rather than a puzzle, it's important to keep in mind that the objective IS different - i.e., to be the first to fill up a row/column/box correctly, rather than to fill the whole board correctly.

Pramod said...

So you can see we have two variants here.

1) The objective is pretty simple - the player with the max. no. of full lines (columns, rows or squares) wins. The game can be drawn - if it is not solvable.

2) This is more challenging (and well, I like this more perhaps too) - all moves need to lead to a solvable puzzle and the winner again is the person with the maximum number of full lines.

This second version not just involves ability to solve the puzzle but also one need to know how to make one. challenging isn't it?

Anonymous said...

want some help? ;-)

Jasmine said...

very interesting.. I guess you could play the same game with a normal sudoku puzzle. But I guess that wouldn't be fun enough. Where did you get the animal pictures, btw?

Minal said...

My move:
5-Swan: A6

Marginalien said...

Okay -- and here's my move: 2-Goat to 2E. Pramod and Minal, don't wait for me to upload the board with the changes, pls -- let's keep moving. Your turn Pramod.

Jasmine, the critter pix are from MS WORDS font MINI PICS LI'L CRITTERS -- I just happened to try them out while looking for symbols to substitute for numbers! Aren't they cute? The rest are really good too. I discovered, BTW, that there's a difference between the selection you get with Win 98 and Windows XP. This set is from XP.

Anonymous, I haven't gone to your link -- but I'm guessing that it'll be a version of the game here? In case you're trying to warn me that this game's been reproduced elsewhere, well thanks, but you know ... it's on the web, with no fences around it. I expected it to travel.

Pramod said...

Ah, first - the Anonymous was me (didnt realise that my name didnt come out!)- and I just made a cheat sheet (not really to cheat, but want to figure out if some ideas crop up for some rules.) I don't think something of this sort has been tried out before.

My move 8 B2.

Some additional rules to make it fun as a board game. We could have 2 dices one with numbers 1 to 9 and another with number 1 to 3 and rest blank. Once you throw the dice - you get a number and then you have to place that number. If you get an invalid number - bad luck - next player plays (this will be more and more towards the end!)

And if you finish a line (row, column or a box) you get one point and you get another chance to throw the dice.

Marginalien said...

*sigh* So much for my dreams of conspiracy!! I'll go check out your cheat-sheet Pramod.

Meanwhile, Minal, your turn -- don't wait, pls, for me to upload the altered board. I believe we can easily manage about two cycles of turns per day (if not more) given that P is 12 hrs behind IST (right, P?) and Minal logs on during the day, whereas I am a night-bird.

About alternative rules, Pramod -- you might like to consider a twelve-sided die (you can get them in specialist game-shops, as they are used in D&D and other role-playing-type games) with three numbers alotted to specialized functions. About your earlier comment, re making the game conform to the puzzle's rules, it could be a variation. There are so many possibilities for variations: (1) playing three moves in each turn would make for a faster game (2) assigning three numbers/critters exclusively to each player would make for excitement (3) assigning points (4) permitting changes in placements AND assigning penalties for placements which can be proven to be invalid in the long run.

However, for the fledgling game in progress here, I would request that we keep it simple! Time enough for variations in the future.

Marginalien said...

-- but I keep forgetting to mention the reason why I believe the game SHOULDN'T be played like a puzzle (i.e. so that the board CAN be correctly filled) -- because that would make it utterly predictable! For instance, at this moment, it may well be possible to use the current game as a puzzle grid -- but it's the uncertainty of how we will choose our placements that makes it interesting. So I will amend one of my previous remarks -- this isn't just three-handed TIC-TAC-TOE -- it's TIC-TAC-TOE meets OTHELLO and for three players!

Minal said...

My Move:
4:Gazelle @ F4

Anonymous said...

Sudoku puzzles. Hmmm. “Easy” to “challenging”, they haven’t turned out to be as good an exercise for the brain as a crossword or double acrostic puzzle. Lots of tedious donkey work penciling in (an exercise that tests patience and exactitude, but does nothing for the old grey matter). Rather than invent the wheel all over again, why not go for some shortcuts? One website does the “penciling in” for you and after that, you just have to keep your eyes open and chug along. By the way, as an exercise for the eyes sudoku is great – all that scanning up and down columns and back and forth rows, and circling around boxes. Ultimately, you can’t lose. And yup, there are sudoku board games. Out of curiosity I consulted ye olde Google that came up with 72,600 K entries – one was even designed for dashboards! I tremble at the thought of Chandigarh (or Delhi) drivers zooming around potholed roads in the rain while searching numbers on the sudoku puzzles attached to their dashboards. Chandigarh J

Marginalien said...

Thanks Minal! My move:

Chandigarh J -- you're right, not as challenging as a double acrostic -- almost nothing is as challenging as one of them! I love 'em -- but they do take an awful long time to complete (for me, anyway). The great joy of SUDOKU is that it's relatively quick. And, like you say, an added benefit is the eye-exercise they provide ... 72,000 entries under board games, huh? Well, great! We'll add our tiny mite to the crowd.

Marginalien said...

You know what? If we don't pick up the pace of this game it'll be weeks before we're done. I suggest we revert to my initial idea, of three moves per turn. So please Pramod -- make THREE MOVES. The same for you, Minal, pls, and of course I'm awready ready ...

Pramod said...

:-) Three moves it is

9 - G6
7 - A4
6 - F9

Minal said...

My moves:

Marginalien said...

Thanx Pramod, Minal -- I've gotta think about my moves -- later today. There's a definite pressure now!

Anonymous said...

I wish ppl would stop with all the sudoku crap. I mean yeah it's your blog n your space n all that, but ppl do expect a writer of your calibre to have a blog with better content and updated more often!

Marginalien said...

Eh? Am I being scolded for failing to live up to someone else's ideas of what my standards are??? How bogglingly weird. And a little rude.

Sorry, ~J! No doubt there are thousands of good little authors who update conscientiously and look after the needs of their loyal flock by the consistently high standards of literature and thoughtfulness at their blogs. Alas, I am not one of them! Adieu, adieu.

And so to post my moves: MARGINALIEN: 3(CAT): 1E; 3(CAT): 5I; 3(CAT): 9G

Pramod said...

6 - G5
8 - A5
1 - F1

Marginalien said...

Pramod -- G5 is taken (see Minal's most recent COMMENT). Would you like to post another choice?

xander said...

Nice Sudoku!

I submitted a link to our sudoku big list at Sudoku Jouwpagina


Anonymous said...

Just read your review of Ira Pande's Diddi. I don't know whether it is typo or an overzealous sub-editor, Shivani’s name was Gaura Pant and not Gauri. This, along with the tone of the review left me wondering whether you actually bothered to read the book. Also, was browsing your archives and stumbled onto this quasi-review of ‘Agra Bazaar’ and though I could understand your lack of familiarity with the language and your ‘oohing’ about the Muslim aesthetics (WTF?), what is unpardonable is that you do not mention Nazir Akabarabadi anywhere. Even, somebody vaguely familiar with Hindi-Urdu syntax would have been able to realize that the play describes the life and times of the iconoclast poet. It is like, somebody taking ‘Getting There’ to be just another piece of chick-lit and taking the protagonist to be a fictional character.

Marginalien said...

Anonymous, The misspelling of "Gaura" was my fault -- it's odd, because I knew that was the name, but the incorrect "i" sneaked in anyway. How sad, though, if my enjoyment of the book didn't come through my review! I really did like it (and read it).

About "Agra Bazaar", I watched it with as much noncomprehension as if I'd been wearing head-phones -- that's not a justification for being ignorant about it, of course, but ... there it is, I was.

And so ... to the game at hand -- your move, Minal. And as you can see, you're in luck!

Minal said...

Oh you bet I'm lucky;-)
My moves:
9(Flamingo)@ 4B
1(Penguin)@ 8D
3(Cat)@ 6F

Marginalien said...

Wha--?? Now I'm SURE I've messed up in some way! Coz that permits me: CAMEL(6) to 5C; FLAMINGO(9) to 5D; SWAN (5) to 5F -- and with that I complete ROW 5!! No doubt there's a deep plot somewhere ...

Pramod said...

4 - 6B
1 - 6C
3 - 4C

So my score too is up to 1 - hooray!

Marginalien said...

... *sigh* I could see it coming!! Well, congrats Pramod -- it's going to be a bit of a wait now, I think, for the next one ...

Zofo The Hermit of Wandering Thought said...

I shall refer you to a simple yet intruiging game, which help you think out of the box rather then inside a series of mundane blocks.

If you do get out of the room, let mme know maybe I will come back to look at your series of boxes.


Marginalien said...

Hola, Zofo -- I cannot access your link without an estimated 23-min download -- which, as I use a slow modem, is not something I am willing to do. Any suggestions?

Minal said...

So u and pramod are both off the mark! That gets me in trouble:-(
SO here are mine now:
5(Swan)@ 2H

Pramod said...

Here goes mine:::

4: 7A
9: 9H
1: 7G

This is becoming rather interesting.... its actually more challenging than std. sudoku - I need to make sure both of you dont get scores...ha ha ha

Pramod said...

oh oh...I think I made a tactical error!!! whose turn is next?

Marginalien said...

-- yes, I can see a tactical error! It's Minal's turn next ...

Minal said...

My moves: This is getting complex!!!But i'm enjoying it!

Marginalien said...

I'm starting to feel guilty about this! My moves: SWAN(5) to 9D; FLAMINGO(9) to 2I; RACCOON (8) to 8I -- and I get row 9!! But several possibilities open up -- and though I considered attempting to block, I don't have the killer instinct apparently ... too sleepy!

Pramod said...

9: 8E
2: 8F
8: 7F

My score is 2 yippee....!

Pramod said...

It looks like we have a unsolvable puzzle here.... but its fun!

Marginalien said...

Cool, Pramod -- and Minal, your turn ...

Minal said...

The middle block is stuck!
Anyways I think I'm off the mark;my moves below:

Marginalien said...

Cheers! Join the club! Now I've gotta think out my moves carefully ...

Marginalien said...

Alrighty then, my moves: MARGINALIEN:GOAT(2) to 7C; RACCOON(8) to 6F; GOAT to 4H -- and with that I believe I have royally blocked several options!! Nasty, huh? Your turn Pramod!

Pramod said...

Actually you 6F is already occupied by a 3. So you cannot move in there.

And come to think of it - there arent any more possible moves leading to a score....

Any way in the spirit of the game - my three moves:
8: 6E
5: 4I
6: 8A

Marginalien said...

Yikes! I meant 6E -- incorrect notation, but the board-placement shows the move that I intended. Sorry -- my mistake means that your 8 to 6E has already been accomplished (I haven't changed the board since you posted). I shall register a penalty by taking only two moves when I move.

Minal and Pramod -- shall we continue playing till no more moves can be made? I can suggest another way to assign points: NINE points plus a bonus ONE for a correctly completed row/column/box; thereafter, points for placing the final valid piece in any rows/columns/boxes based on the existing elements pieces in there -- i.e. if Minal places the final valid piece in a row of 8, she gets EIGHT points; if that piece also happens to be the final valid piece in a box of 6, she gets FOURTEEN points in all for that turn. It'll be a bit complicated but it'll make it worthwhile and interesting to play to the bitter end!

Minal said...

I'm terribly lost and stuck!!!
My moves here:

Manjula am not clear about the rules you mentioned in you lastcomment, there seriously aren't any legitimate moves left now!!

Marginalien said...

No -- you're doing fine, Minal! I'm rushing out of the house right now, but I'll doublecheck your moves -- if it's true there aren't any more valid moves AT ALL -- then it seems to me you've cleared up on the final points!! But this'll have to wait, coz I can't add straight even when I am NOT rushing out of the house.

Pramod said...

I am travellilng this weekend - so wouldn't be able to add much - anyway I dont think its my turn or is it?

Right now enjoying some refreshingly cool Zurich weather - sun is shining too.

Marginalien said...

Lucky you! I am enjoying the sweaty heat of Delhi in mid-monsoon!

And no, it's not your turn, it's MY turn and I've been playing hookie from the web coz I'm also about to travel -- to Madras, however -- so INTO the heat.

I will upload Minal's moves and if I can face it, will compute the points based on my suggestion of three messages ago. If what she says is true, this game is over ...

Marginalien said...

Okay: IF we accept my recent suggestion for how to wring as many points from the game as poss, here's the point position:

JULY 22nd
MINAL: GOAT(2) to 3G; CAMEL(6) to 7H; GAZELLE(4) to 8G -- 16 points (one row, one block)

JULY 23rd
MARGINALIEN: CAMEL (6) to 8A; RACCOON (8) to 1G -- 24 pts (one row, one block, one column)

This is based on the idea that whoever places the last valid piece in a row/column/block picks up the number of points relevant to the number of pieces in each row/column/block that can now no longer accept any more valid pieces.

I have not added the points from the earlier correctly filled row/column/blocks. And it goes without saying that if we had played the game from the outset with the view that these further points could have been won, we may have collected even more points.

BTW, I played only two moves coz I lost a move through my incorrect notation during my last turn.

Minal said...

Hey Manjula,
Pramod had already got that move in place before 6@8A, so you'll have to rethink your moves again or we'll take one frm u and continue frm there. Your call:-)

Delhi then Madras, I suggest you stop over in Mumbai and enjoy the rains. It's pouring hard and roads are a mess, but the weather couldn't be more wonderful:-)

Marginalien said...

U-oh! Senility strikes again ... Pramod and Minal -- go ahead. I'm in Madras now and can't upload any changes to the board just yet. Let's just keep moving till no more moves are poss.

Minal said...

Ok pramod you take ur turn, and we'll keep the game going.

Manjula & Pramod,
I have the latest updated board on my comp will upload the image, but I don't have the icons only nos.!
Let me know

Marginalien said...

Sorry I've been lethargic -- it's coz I'm not at my own PC station! But I do have an updated board, Minal and will accomplish the deed whenever Pramod next moves. I think he's travelling too, so he may take a while ...

How did you survive the floods in Bombay, Minal? I got SMSs all through last night, with grisly stories of being stuck in waist-high floods!!

Minal said...

Hi Manjula,
Don't ask about the ordeal, I must say after listening to various account from my dear family and friends, i must say i was lucky.
I've just gained my internet connection will keep posting more, just posted my account. You can visit my blog to read it:

Marginalien said...

Hi Minal -- very relieved to find you back! It was quite awful the first night and also the second night, hearing accounts. Well, welcome back! Thanks for posting. I'll go visit your blog.

Minal said...

Pramod I think it's your turn. So get going:-) Just as Mumbaites have:-)
I'm proud of them, yes and what you said was right hope this is a lesson for the "authorities" to look carefully into environment planning and building the cities infrastructure.

Pramod said...

Hey, I am sorry I didn't post - despite us not having any rains. But I got so busy - as I just have 2 more days before coming over to India on a long overdue vacation.

Are there any more valid moves left? I felt it was complete!

By the way, about Mumbaites, while they are really a great group of go getters, they also perhaps are the most apathic people in the world. How else could they be so happy with one of the most hopeless cities (in terms of infrastructure) in the world!!

Marginalien said...

Uh-oh! I suspect you're likely to be torched by Minal, Pramod!

But to return to the topic THIS post, i.e., SUDOCRITTERS, yes, there ARE valid moves left, Pramod. Remember -- you don't have to bother with completing a row/column/box -- it's enough to be the one to place the last valid piece in any r/c/b in order to collect points. I suspect it's between you and Minal tho'! There won't be any left for me, *sigh*.

Minal said...

How can I run away from the truth? Sigh!!!It's an amazing city, amazing public transport system, amazing people, with amazing spirit! But not an amazing infrastructure!
Pramod is right, and I won't get back at him about it!
However passionate I'm about this place I cannot lie!:-)

Pramod we are waiting for you to get going on the game!!!

Marginalien said...

Thanks Minal! And now ... all eyes turn to Pramod ... who, I suspect, will not be free to post for a few days yet -- which means we'll probably only resume after the weekend!

Pramod said...

Finally here are my moves (assuming the chart is uptodate!)

2 - 6D
2 - 1A
4 - 1C

Am flying out of CH day after; will be in Dubai for few days and then in Kerala. If Mumbai clears up - will be going there for a days end of Aug.

Minal said...

Here are my moves.
3 @ 2A
3 @ 3H
4 @ 3I

Pramod u r globe-trotting:-) Have a gr8 time.

Pramod said...

Just was checking up.... am back in Switz. Hope you are having fun in US of A.

Visited your city Mumbai too Minal and then was in Blore - I guess Mumbai beats Blore anyday - even after the Floods. :-)