Is Nine-Men Morris, in the hands of perfect players, a win for white or for black - or a draw? Can king, rook, and knight always defeat king and two knights in chess? What can Go players learn from economists? What are nimbers, tinies, switches and minies? This book deals with combinatorial games, that is, games not involving chance or hidden information. Their study is at once old and young: though some games, such as chess, have been analyzed for centuries, the first full analysis of a nontrivial combinatorial game (Nim) only appeared in 1902. The first part of this book will be accessible to anyone, regardless of background: it contains introductory expositions, reports of unusual tournaments, and a fascinating article by John H. Conway on the possibly everlasting contest between an angel and a devil. For those who want to delve more deeply, the book also contains combinatorial studies of chess and Go; reports on computer advances such as the solution of Nine-Men Morris and Pentominoes; and theoretical approaches to such problems as games with many players. If you have read and enjoyed Martin Gardner, or if you like to learn and analyze new games, this book is for you.
Barry Atkins discusses in detail questions of narrative and realism in four of the most significant games of the last decade: "Tomb Raider", "Half-Life", "Close Combat" and "SimCity". This is a work for both the student of contemporary culture and those game-players who are interested in how computer games tell their stories.