Grabber is a combinatorial game based on the column checkers method of capture found in games like Bashni, Lasca, Stapeldammen and Emergo. It is the column checkers version of a traditional Hawaiian game called Konane.

Rules
The diagram shows the board with the men in the initial position. There are two players, white and black. White moves first after which turns alternate. Moving is compulsory.
All movement is straight only.

Initial positionColumns will arise in the game. Single pieces are considered 'columns of one'. Columns may be of one or both colors. By the nature of the mechanism there will, in the latter case, always be one color on top with prisoners underneath. The top part is called 'the cap' and determines the owner.

Moving
On each of his first two moves, each player takes one friendly man off the board. After these initial moves, every move must be a capture. A piece captures an orthogonally adjacent opponent's piece by jumping over it to a vacant square immediately beyond, taking the top man along under it as its prisoner. If a player after the first capture can proceed in a similar matter in the same or a perpendicular direction he may do so, but is not obliged to do so. A multiple capture may be terminated at any square.

In the course of a multiple capture a piece may visit the same square more than once as well as capture the same piece more than once.
If more than one capture is available, players are free to choose.

Object
If a player on his turn cannot make a capture, he loses the game.

Sorry, you need a Java enabled browser to view this Grabber Game.
Here's an example game between the Axiom Game Engine and itself.

Note: every time a single man is captured, the number of pieces decreases by one. Since there is no way to increase the number of pieces, there will be progressively fewer pieces.

Note: Grabber is not an elimination game. A player may have plenty of pieces but no capture. So making multiple captures may not always serve the game's object and will often run counter to it.

Note: On small boards Grabber can be seen to be a win for the second player most of the time. This behaviour seems to cast a long shadow: on a 6x6 board the Axiom Game Engine if playing against itself, gets a second player win in about 70% of the games. In human terms this may be less relevant, but it is certainly not altogether insignificant.

Grabber for the Axiom Game Engine can be downloaded via our Axiom page.


How I invented ... Grabber
Using the Grabber applet


Grabber © MindSports
Java applet © Ed van Zon