Lemma: larger view and rules of play

The Meta-rules for LEMMA

Players:   2 to 6

Start:  The gameboard placed on the play surface. The 48 disks off the board in a common pool available to all. Choose one player to write down rules.

Play:  Agree on order of play. Players take turns. On each turn, a player will state a new rule for the game and show an example of it on the board.

  1. Each turn introduces one new rule. The accompanying action is an example of that rule.
  2. All rules remain in effect for the rest of the game.
  3. No new rule may contradict any previous rule. No action may be against any previous rule.
  4. Only one new rule may be introduced on a turn. Beware of compound rules that seek to sneak in extra conditions.
  5. Only the gameboard and pieces are used as elements in the rules. No outside objects or conditions may be involved.
  6. A player unable to complete both parts of a turn — stating a rule and showing an example of it — is eliminated from the game.
Additional Guidelines
  • Actions on the board may be any the players can think up, such as moving, sliding, jumping, flipping, stacking, switching, etc. Any action other than placing a piece from off the board onto the board needs a rule to introduce it. The definition of the action is provided by the player when the rule is first stated. Placing a new piece is allowed, but it requires a rule about how or where it is done.

  • Write down all the rules as they are being stated. Verify a new rule against the previous ones. If a new rule seems to contradict an existing rule, the other players can challenge it, and the player whose turn it is must reword it until it is acceptable.

  • Since only one new rule may be introduced at a time, any complex combinations must be built out of elements previously introduced.

  • Without actually contradicting, it is possible that new rules may make an old rule so constrained that it can't actually be enacted. That is fair game.

  • In this microcosm of survival dynamics, it is not necessary to play until only one player remains. The players may adjourn at any time, and all survivors are winners.



    This classic game, played since the Middle Ages, uses just the area within the gold triangles of the Lemma grid.

    Players:   Two.

    Start:   Put 12 pieces of one color as shown, representing the Hounds (one player). Place one piece of another color on the center point of the board; this is the Hare (other player).

    Play:   Take turns moving one piece one space along lines on the board. The Hare moves first.

    Moves:   The Hare may move on the lines in any direction — forward, back, sideways, diagonally. The Hare can also jump over any Hound to an empty space directly on the other side of the Hound (as in checkers), along the lines. The Hounds may move only directly forward or diagonally forward along lines and may not jump. A Hound jumped over by the Hare is removed from the board.

    Goal:   The Hounds win if they can surround the Hare so it can't move. The Hare wins if it can get through the line of Hounds to their starting row, or jump over so many Hounds that they can not surround it.

    This game is lots of fun to play and gives a good feel for early strategy games. It is one of a group of "hunt" games popular centuries ago.



    This very short but tricky game uses the entire Lemma board.

    Players:   Two.

    Start:   Set up the board with all 41 points covered with disks. It does not matter what colors are where.

    Play:   Take turns placing a spare piece (the "detonator") on any intersection of the board. This point may or may not have a disk still covering it. On the first move all points are covered, so the first placement is on top of a piece. When placing on an empty spot, use two pieces stacked so it's clear where the "detonator" is. When this "detonator" is placed, remove every disk that is on any row intersected by that piece, even if there is no line drawn on the board (see drawing at right). Remove in all 4 directions — horizontal, vertical and both diagonals. Then remove the detonator, leaving one disk behind on that point. In the sample first move shown, 23 disks are removed.

    Goal:   To leave just one piece on the board.

    Hint:   Aim to leave at least four pieces on the board after your turn, and see to it that they do not intersect in one point, from which the opponent could remove them in one turn. If there are only three disks on the board, there will always be points of commonality from which all three can be hit.

    Solitaire Challenge:   The board can be reduced to just one piece in only 3 moves. What are they?



    This quick original game uses the entire Lemma board.

    Players:   Two.

    Start:   Set up the board with one disk on every intersection except the center and the four black outside corners, as shown in the diagram. Colors are randomly distributed.

    Play:   Take turns making jumps over other pieces. A player may start the jump with any usable piece on the board and may make more than one jump if possible. All pieces jumped over are removed from the board and become that player's hoard. Every move must be a jump. If a player cannot make a jump, the game is over and all pieces still on the board are added to the hoard of the player who last made a jump. Only one piece is used during a turn to make jumps. Jumps are taken only along lines, to an empty space directly on the other side of the piece being jumped. No jumps may be made where there is no line on the board.

    Goal:   To get the most pieces.

    Hint:   Watch for opportunities to make multiple jumps. Remove pieces as you go, because new jumps may become possible through the new openings. Leave only single jumps for the other player. Work to get the last jump, as there may be as many as four or more pieces to grab. You may even leave an extra piece for the opponent to jump, just to get that valuable last jump yourself.



    This Arab game of centuries ago is the forerunner of checkers. Play on the center portion, within the gold boundaries of the Lemma grid.

    Players:   Two.

    Start:   Set up 12 disks each of two colors as shown on the intersections of the board, leaving only the center empty.

    Play:   Take turns moving one piece one space in any direction along a line, or jumping over opponent pieces along any line. Jumped-over pieces are removed from the board. Jumps when possible must be taken, and multiple jumps with the same piece must all be made, or the other player can remove the piece that failed to jump. Where more than one piece can jump, only one need do so (player's option), with no penalty to the other piece.

    Goal:   To eliminate all of the opponent's pieces.

    Hint:   With so full a board, captures will be many during the first few turns. Look for captures you can let the opponent make that will set up multiple jumps for you. Develop crafty moves where you lure the opponent into capturing moves that set up bigger or even final captures for you. Guard against getting trapped in such endgames yourself.

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