This article intends to explain the process of invention of a most unusual boardgame called China Squares, from the original merger of Nick Bentley's game Strands and the China Labyrinth, which resulted in China Tangle, via the intermediate games China Octangle and China Grove, to its emergence in March 2023 that at the same time marked the end of my career as an inventor of abstract strategy games.

I will also comment on the game's strategy and tactics and the unusual character of its perfect information: it's all there but it requires an applet to actually see it.

The traditional view ...
... of abstract games is that they're played with pieces on a regular board that should fit a regular sized table. Most current designers of abstract games, at least so far as they're frequenting BGG's Abstract Games Forum, abide by that criterion. Most also tend to abide by other criteria, like simple rule sets, absolute decisiveness, and maximised accessibility and marketability.

There's nothing wrong with craving popularity and moulding games to it, except that it narrows the design space. It gives rise to a trend in inventing abstract strategy games that excludes games that have more complex rule sets that don't bow down to presumed popular demand. China Squares is an online-only game that requires the applet to create a board and to highlight sets of cells that are optional for placement. However, it doesn't differ from most newly invented abstract strategy games in that the vast majority of these can also only be played online. It means you can't buy it or play it on a table, but if you care to look at what it offers instead of what it lacks, you can enjoy it at Mindsports for free.