## An example game

The game of Dots is played on a rectangular array of dots. The players alternate placing edges connecting the dots. When a player makes a box, he puts his name in the box and moves again. At the end, the player with the most boxes wins. If the number of boxes is equal, then the game is a tie.

On Yahoo Dots, the first player is Yellow and makes yellow boxes and the second person is Green so makes green boxes.

Here is an example game on the 3x3 Dots board

The players start, with Yellow moving first

On his last move, Yellow allows Green to take a box.

Green takes the box, but he is forced to move again. Any move that Green makes allows Yellow to take all the other boxes.

• What every beginner needs to know

Every beginner who wants to improve his game should read the sections about the basic strategy, that is, doublecrosses, control, and the chain rule.

• Getting good

The basic strategy should allow you to beat most people. The rest is mostly technical details that allow you to implement the basic strategy since Dots, in particular, you will have to understand the chain rule in depth and know all about chains. You will also learn about tactics like sacrifices. You will also need to know basic openings concepts.

The next big step is learning how to go beyond the chain rule, by winning games even when you lose the chain fight. This will clearly identify you as an expert player. You will also need to understand the quad and make a catalogue of standard endgames leading to ties in order to defend with Green. Playing with such endgames in mind is the other big step in becoming an expert player.

• Are you a master?

If you're a good Dots player (2500+ Yahoo), then you might want to give me some pointers about the game, and I will credit you on this website. Just send me mail. You can also record your games and send them to me.

Sorry, but I won't be able to tell you how to win all your games. Computer analysis has shown that 5x5 Dots (4x4 boxes) is always a tie with best play by both players.

You should also try your hand at 6x6 Dots. You can do this on Yahoo by simply choosing the 10x10 board option, and only playing in the bottom left-hand 6x6 corner. If you've also mastered that game, I suggest you try playing Go, which I find similar to Dots, but which is a much more interesting and challenging game.

### Basic notation

In this site, I will mostly talk about 5x5 (4x4 boxes) Dots, since this is the only interesting version of the game that is available on Yahoo, since the 10x10 is already too big and long, let alone 15x15 or 20x20 (are you listening, Yahoo?). Mathematicians like Berlekamp have mostly been playing 6x6 (5x5 boxes) Dots, but it seems that the games are very similar and my experience shows that my understanding of 5x5 Dots carries over quite well to 6x6. You can play 6x6 Dots on Yahoo by choosing the 10x10 board option, and only playing in the bottom left-hand 6x6 corner. You can also practice 6x6 Dots against Dabble.

Since many people reading this site will be used to Yahoo Dots, I will use their notation, for example, the first player will be Yellow and the second player will be Green. Mathematicians have traditionally called these Dodie and Evie, because Dodie plays the odd movies and Evie playes the even moves. In books, you will also see A for the first player and B for the second player.

I have made a list of technical terms in the glossary.