Impartial games with entailing moves

by   Urban Larsson, et al.
University of Lisbon
Dalhousie University

Combinatorial Game Theory has also been called `additive game theory', whenever the analysis involves sums of independent game components. Such disjunctive sums invoke comparison between games, which allows abstract values to be assigned to them. However, there are rulesets with entailing moves that break the alternating play axiom and/or restrict the other player's options within the disjunctive sum components. These situations are exemplified in the literature by a ruleset such as nimstring, a normal play variation of the classical children's game dots & boxes, and top entails, an elegant ruleset introduced in the classical work Winning Ways, by Berlekamp Conway and Guy. Such rulesets fall outside the scope of the established normal play theory. Here, we axiomatize normal play via two new terminating games, ∞ (Left wins) and ∞ (Right wins), and a more general theory is achieved. We define affine impartial, which extends classical impartial games, and we analyze their algebra by extending the established Sprague-Grundy theory, with an accompanying minimum excluded rule. Solutions of nimstring and top entails are given to illustrate the theory.


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