Hex Strategy: Making the Right Connections

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Taylor & Francis, May 30, 2000 - Mathematics - 384 pages
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Hex Strategy is the first book to offer a comprehensive look at the game of Hex, from its history and mathematical underpinnings to discussions of advanced playing techniques. This is first and foremost a book on strategy aimed at providing sufficient knowledge to play the game at any level desired. Numerous examples illustrate an algorithmic approach to the game. Hex Strategy is a book for board game enthusiasts, recreational mathematicians and programmers, or simply those who enjoy games and puzzles.

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This book is an excellent introduction to a great game that deserves to be much better known. The majority of the book concerns various aspects of hex strategy and is sound. As such it provides a good guide for someone wanting to learn how to play Hex reasonably well. The one unsound strategy is that the book's suggested opening swap rules are not correct at all and should be ignored (*).
The book contains a few sections that will be of interest to a more limited audience. For example there is a chapter on variations of hex and related connection games. There is another chapter on algorithmic ideas that could be used in a computer hex playing program.
(*) A much better and more accurate swap rule is as follows.
Don't swap if the initial play is in the vertical player's border row except for the obtuse corner which should be swapped.
Initial moves: A2,B2,C2,A3 (and their symmetric equivalents). The game is about even regardless of whether you swap or not. Personally, the only one I usually swap is A3.
Remaining non-border moves: Always swap!
Remaining moves in horizontal player's border row (A4,A5,A6,etc.): Most of these should be swapped. These moves also lead to nearly even games but these moves are not played nearly as often as A2,A3,B2,C2. One move that should not be swapped is the one next to the obtuse corner (A10 on the 11x11 board). If the patterns that exist on the solved 7x7 and 8x8 boards continues to larger boards, then the border hex 3 away from the obtuse corner should also not be swapped.

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