atariIn 1975 Mark Berger, who's real name is Richard Kramberger, invented 'Rosette', a transposition of Go to a hexagonal grid and had it published, if I remember correctly, in a magazine called Games & Puzzles.
His idea was to simply apply the rules of Go to the triple contacts of the grid and see how it worked out. As it turned out, regular concepts like 'ko' and 'seki' remained intact, but there was a big difference if a group was in 'atari', that is: if it had just one liberty left, like the white stone on the left.
In Go a point has four liberties and extending from a group in atari may increase the number of its liberties by 2. In Rosette an extension increases that number at most by 1, and this one is consequently taken to keep the group in atari and run it to its death. This prompted him to introduce an additional safety mechanism that the game in principle could do without, but that happens to align seamlessly with the concept, lending more strategic options to what otherwise might have turned into a game too dominated by capture tactics.

I even remember the author had offered it to a Japanese games company, with the suggestion to have the stones depict flower emblems and marketing the game under the name "The War of the Roses". That was in the mid- to late seventies and it was the first and the last time I saw it mentioned anywhere. But I didn't forget it because it is such a great transposition, making it the best and most 'pure' Go variant around. I even mentioned it occasionally at the BGG Abstract Games Forum, but without getting any encouraging response. So I'm glad we can now finally publish it and save it from fading into oblivion.

The board Mark suggested is a hexagonal grid in the shape of a hexagon, with seven hexagons on each side. This contains 294 vertices. MindSports also features base-6 and base-5 boards with 216 and 150 vertices, respectively.

December 2020, christian freeling

Rosette © Mark Berger