Pathfinder

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Pathfinder

Welcome Sir R-----! Pray shed your overcoat and come dry yourself by the fire. I am told that these spring showers are of inestimable benefit to farming folk, but I fail to grasp why they can’t show the good manners to desist until noblemen have made their way indoors.

Will you join me in a warming measure and perchance a small wager?

I had no doubt sir!

I’ve a mind for a game oft played by the tribesmen of Borneo upon the cobbled floors of their homes as a means of practice for their legendary talent in forging paths through the dense forests in which they dwell.
As you have no doubt heard tell, their arboreal paradise is haunted by the spirit of a rather cantankerous old fellow with bright orange hair; one who does not gladly share his territory with the living.
Any unfortunate soul who finds himself in some spot that this flame-haired shade has chosen for his own is liable to be assaulted with a hailstorm of the gigantic nuts that grow in those parts. The tribesmen have learned full well that a pile of those nuts upon the forest floor is a certain indication that another path should be sought and it is a testament to the improving quality of their game that they can unerringly do so.

Oh, but I have told you nothing of its rules!

Here, I have chalked out a board upon the tiles of the hearth. Take this stock of oak counters and I shall have this stock of pine. I shall begin play by claiming a tile for my own and placing one of my counters upon it. You shall follow by likewise claiming some other tile for yourself. Play shall continue in this fashion with our taking turns laying claim to untaken tiles.
I shall have the game, and a coin from your purse, if I can weave an unbroken path of counters from the left edge to the right, made up of neighbouring tiles. You shall have the game, and a coin from mine, if you can frustrate my efforts by creating an unbroken path from top to bottom.

When I told that tedious student of this game he mumbled something about a top quality curse having rendered him bored of his station, although quite what excitement he found in the musty halls of academe before this supposed affliction I cannot begin to imagine.

But there is no profit in recounting his ramblings; come, take a fresh glass and muse upon your strategy!


Based upon an article I wrote for ACCU's CVu magazine.

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