Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Seriousness has a dramatic impact on how strict people are about the way they play games. Commonly in my gaming circles people make mistakes, executing moves that are momentarily thought better of. This happens just after the transition of one player’s turn to the next.

The person whose move it now is, is merely surveying the board and evaluating options having made no motion to play. Before that person starts manipulating any bits, the former players offers up a “Hold on…” and requests an alteration. In some circles, take backs are taboo. In tournaments, the rules may be spell out. My general rule says that take backs (redos) are only allow when no new information has become available to the player.

Furthermore, the courteousness of redos directly relate to timeliness of the requests. That is, while the active player is still pondering. There is a diminishing window in which you may courteously choose to modify your move. With each passing second the request disrupts the now active player’s greater analytical investment. Therefore, a reasonable redo request usually happens in under 5 seconds, maybe 10, and seldom more than that.

Because redo requests becomes ruder and less reasonable with each second, the more belated a request the more grace is require of it . In the 5 second window, the hold-ons are considered implicitly okay unless the now active player speaks up.

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Different Games

Since the now active player is most directly impact, it should be his perogative to permit or deny the redo. He must decide whether any new information. Even indiscreet but important meta-information, may have been communicate. Consider that a lengthy ponderance following the former player’s move might itself convey information. This could prove useful to that former player should he be given the opportunity to change his move.  For example, by watching the active player’s posture, his eyes, his countenance, or observing his sigh of relief. Though the usefulness of meta information may not be equally obvious to all. That assessment, and subsequent permittance or denial of any redos, belongs primarily (though not necessarily entirely) to the current player.

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Additionally, it’s for the now active player to decide whether or not he wishes to extend grace against the imposition. In the immediate few seconds starting a turn, since granting a redo wouldn’t require much grace It would seem especially uncourteous to hold it. As the secondhand ticks on, the line between undue imposition and simple courtesy become blurr. Because the line is subjective, that subjectivity must justly come from the one (or ones) impose upon.

Two Kinds Of Games

There are two kinds of redos with which I’m most familiar and being of one kind or the other may bear on whether a redo is grant. They are

  • the quick adjustment, and
  • the do over.

The quick adjustment is a mental hiccup: the former player realizing that he chose the weaker of his final two alternatives, swaps out one move for the other. This redo is a moment’s interruption.

The do over is thinking better of the entire move without a worked-out alternative in mind. The person is, in fact, requesting to take his turn over. This is less graciously permitted in my circles. No one should expect the gracious affordance of this kind of redo. Like a mulligan, per player it should come about once in a game, twice a best. Beyond that is rude whether or not the game group is gracious enough to allow it.

The worst form of the do over comes in games where lots of manipulated bits have to be restored to their original state; often, with difficulty and/or uncertainy in restoring them. (Java comes to mind.) In fact, in Java, because the spatiality is harder to grasp, in many cases even for gamers, people will try out laying and manipulating bits on the board and perform many do overs as part of their turn’s evaluation process. This becomes more annoying with more involve moves that make it difficult for all players, not just the current, to trust that the what-if scenerio was accurately backed out. It’s not as annoying if the person makes it obvious beforehand that he needs to visually work out his options in order to expedite his turn.

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As I said, redos are permitted by the active player to the former. When you are no longer the former player, because the turn has once more advanced, you can forget about it.

I give much grace when allowing redos. Here’s why:

We’re human and bound to error.

You’ll make mistakes and so will I. Being ungracious about allowing redos may slow down players who will worry too much about the possibility of making costly mistakes.

I like the challenge of playing to a person’s best game.

If a player moves his Queen, takes his fingers off it, and immediately thinks better of it, my strict rigidity to not allow the


correction seems to say that I

enjoy, perhaps require a momentary technical error

in defeating my opponent. These games of ours are not dexterity sports like tennis where a momentary technical errors are more decisive, but mental ones. Battles of wits should play out differently than athletic ones. When an opponent who just completed a move (with only a moment’s hesitation) wants to substitute. He perceives is a better move, that’s the move and, collectively, the game that I want to beat him at. Looking to deny courtesy to gain victory by beating an opponent at what is clearly his lesser game, to me, is unsportsmanlike, unsatisfying, and weak.

When playing games, I extend the grace necessary to take on a player at his best. I expect only that he gain no unfair advantage and that he beg no unreasonable imposition. Even the impeccable Inigo Montoya, in anticipation of a duel to the death, gracefully granted recovery time to the exhausted man in black when offerring, “We’ll wait until you’re ready.”

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By Master

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