Zendo discussion

What if someone started a thread to play chess?

They’d be banned in an instant


Hey, don’t compare us to chess.com :smiley:

What’s that, citizen???

(Our hero is, of course, being pursued by a giant Go stone…)



Does it with by correspondence? I could be tempted but don’t i can sit and play a whole game of anything

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Yep. You’ll see most games there with very long time controls, but in practice it ends up going pretty quickly with players usually playing within a day at most. There’s also a checkbox you can check when submitting a koan that automatically skips the guessing stage of your turn if you know you won’t be guessing, so that streamlines things as well.

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Seems like we should ask a nice mod to spin off this off-topic discussion into its own thread, starting with Go is better than chess because

eg. “Zendo discussion”


Yeah, I have to agree with that.

EDIT: Thanks Vsotvep.

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Here’s an idea for a Zendo-type game which I think would work quite well on this forum: Anybody can submit koans (you don’t have to join at the beginning of the game), and there are no guessing stones. However, each person can only submit one koan per 24h period (they can also choose to guess the rule instead). At the same time each day, the GM makes a new post containing all koans so far and which ones are valid.

Anybody interested in playing this way? It would make for quite a slow and “zen”-like game.

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SDG also lets players jump in. Just pm the GM and they can add you if they like (obviously depends on who’s running the game).

There are some hidden benefits to guessing stones: the very process of winning them, even if, later in the game, it becomes unnecessary to win any more, is an exciting part of the game which provides tension and many opportunities to put your latest theory to the test with your guess.

One elegant part of the original rules is that you can do both, and there is no limit to the number of successive guessing stones you can use. This allows a player who has accumulated a small supply of guessing stones through good guesses, to make successive guesses as to the rule. Since every wrong guess must be proven wrong by the GM providing a counterexample koan (which can oftentimes be quite elucidating, especially with a well-worded guess or a lenient GM), the successive guesses may allow the player to make the last intuitive leap they needed to guess the actual rule. With your rule an insightful guess would simply leave the field open to the next player to win, instead of rewarding the player who got some guessing stones and then made a pointed and very nearly correct guess, with a chance to clinch the game.

Not only is this extra bookkeeping for the GM, but this is not all the GM would need to do. They would also need to get clarification on any vague or poorly worded guesses, and then make counterexamples to each of them. It would also need to be clear which counterexamples were for which guess, and each should be a accompanied by a text explanation of a similar form to “Your rule would mark this as X, but under my rule, it is NOT X”, where X is either “HAS” or “HAS NOT”.

Contrariwise, I think it would be far more hectic, without the structure that turn order allows, and without the room for careful consideration and strategy that the guessing stones and multiple guesses in a turn provide.

I would encourage people to read this page on the design history of Zendo, because I think some people here are reinventing the wheel by starting with a square and promising to try a trapezoid if the square idea doesn’t pan out.

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Thank you for your detailed response :slightly_smiling_face:

First of all, I’m sorry if I seem a bit anti-SDG. Apart from the aforementioned clunkiness, it’s mainly that I’m already checking this forum daily, so playing another game here would be much more convenient to me than an external website.

I would like to emphasize the collaborative aspect of the game, rather than the competetive. The players are working together to find out the rule, and can even discuss and coordinate their guesses between each other. There are no winners.

I don’t think this is as much hassle as you think. The koans are simply sorted into two collumns, with an added note for the ones that are counterexamples.

It’s zen-like in a different way. You don’t have to submit a koan each day. Each player takes part as much as they like. I think it would be an interesting experience.

All this said, I appreciate that you have more experience with this game than I do, your input is appreciated, and I will definitely read the page you linked to learn more. But I have played Zendo in various settings before, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to take this opportunity to do it “my way”, if it turns out that there are other people interested in trying something new.

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That is a legitimate concern.

That does seem more in line with the natural flow of a forum-game version of this.

Fair enough. Just don’t ask me to GM here. :smiley:


I had not realized you had played before, that puts your posts in a new light for me. I was under the impression that you were trying to improve on a ruleset without having even tried it as is to see if anything needed improving. But that is not the case.

I’ll participate in a game done like you described, though probably not every day, but I think it would be nice if we could get 2 or 3 people to try a more classical Zendo on SDG as well.

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I’ve read through the design history of Zendo now, thanks for the tip! I very much enjoy game designers talking about their progress but I hadn’t encountered this page before.

I feel like I can now easier put into words the different aims of Zendo and what I’m most interested in right now.

Zendo is designed to be a game, not just a puzzle. The idea of “figuring out the rule with which a set of objects is put into two categories” is the core of Zendo, but much more work had to be put in to make it a good game.

For me, just this core aspect is enough to be interesting (especially for what might be only one or a few games, and maybe with some new exciting set of koans, like go positions). I don’t mind stripping away all the extra structure that’s necessary to make a good game, and instead try to find out what makes a good forum game.

My idea above of “only one koan/guess per player per 24 hours” might not be very good, it just seemed appealing to me in the moment. I still think there’s something to it, but for a first attempt on the forum maybe we should have as few rules as possible?

The master simply starts by giving a valid and non-valid koan, and players can submit koans and guess rules as much as they want (but perhaps it’s polite not to make two submissions in a row), and the master answers when they can. I think this is quite similar to some other forum games going on here. It’s a different thing from Zendo the game, but the core idea is the same, just with surrounding mechanics adopted for a different platform.

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Sounds solid to me. :smiley: Now that I understand where you’re coming from and your design goals, that is. :slight_smile: We could definitely use more pure induction games. I believe that Zendo is currently far and away the best (I believe Kory Heath said something to the effect that he had reached a local maximum with Zendo, from which any change to the rules would make the game worse, despite it still retaining a few minor flaws), but I definitely think there’s room for more pure induction games, and probably someone will come up with one better than Zendo someday, just like we came up with better versions of Chaturanga.

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Draw5PlayAll on SDG has invited anyone here who’s interested to join “Another Number Zendo”. Here’s the join link if you’re already logged into SDG: http://superdupergames.org/main.html?page=joingame&gameid=36977. Don’t worry if it fills up; just pm Draw5PlayAll and he can add you to the game.

Hope to see some of you there (I’m “phi_618” there)!

Here’s the game description:

Another Number Zendo. Koans are positive integers with at most 8 digits. Difficulty: Medium. Some math may or may not be required, but if it is it won't be too complicated. This is more designed for less experienced players. (Yes, I have two of these, and the rules will be different.)

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And for anyone who wants to try a go version here on the forum, see this topic: Go Zendo


I seem to have joined the sdg game. I hope I can figure out how to play it!

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The game has reached the minimum required players and won’t show up on the open challenges anymore, but I’m sure Draw5PlayAll would be happy to add a few more if there are any takers. :smiley:

Here’s the link to the game: http://superdupergames.org/main.html?page=play_zen&num=36977

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I seem to be the last player still in this game on SDG as @Samraku and @Haze_with_a_Z have both stopped it seems.

Any chance that anyone fancies joining or at least helping me figure out the koan? I’m completely baffled!

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This looks fun!

It sure seems to have to do with factorization. I’d want to know for sure whether the prime factors are considered independently. E.g. does 403200 work?

Next I would check powers of 3 and 5 now to see when they fail, since we know it for 2 and 7.

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