The game of Sprouts

A simple paper and pencil pastime suitable for all ages

The rules of Sprouts are easily learned, and the experience of just a few games will make anyone as good an expert as all-comers. In my mind Sprouts rates equal to Noughts and Crosses [113803] and Dotty Squares [113808] as a game where mixed ages or abilities do not matter. Old and young generations can enjoy eachothers company on a near-equal footing. The analysis ~ or winning strategy ~ is harder to think out than in the other two simple games. It is a good game for those who have mastered the winning strategies of Noughts and Crosses and Dots. A piece of A4 paper will probably suffice for several games, and a pencil can be shared between the players. Sprouts can get very complicated and long winded. Keep it simple ~ start with just a few spots.

Draw 2 ~ or 3 ~ or 4 ~ or n ~ spots on the page. They must be well spaced out. Crowding spots too close together is not polite play. Players take it in turns ~ each to do two things. The main rules do not apply for the first move which is very straightforward.

Player 1 connects any two spots with a line ~ and then draws a spot ~ politely ~ somewhere on that line.

Player 2 must now do the same ~ except that the main rules of the game now come into play. They do have to be strictly observed. Stay alert! (You could play a version where breaking a rule forfeits the game!) Here are the rules ~

Rule 1

Every new line must join two available dots.

Rule 2

Any dot with three lines meeting at it is no longer available.

Rule 3

New lines may not cross any other line.

~ back to where we left off. Player 2 draws a line between any two available dots and makes a polite new dot on that line.

Play reverts to player 1 ~ who draws a line between any two availabledots and makes a new dot on that line.

And so on...(and ~ possibly ~ on and on...)

Most games will proceed this far, but from now on it can get tricky to find suitable moves. The player who is unable to draw a line loses the game. There is all sorts of clever mathematical analysis attached to various strategies ~ 'first player wins when there are n dots' ~ and so on. I leave thoughts on that for readers to worry about instead of counting sheep in bed at night.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!
Web services by ~
or contact ~
End of file