A game about making
The third game of
Project GIPF. For 2 players.
Strange… A board that gets smaller and two players
playing with the same marbles... In the beginning you'll have to get
used to it, but once you do, you'll find out that there are many ways
to get the game under control. Play the right marble at the right place
at the right moment, and you'll gain the upper hand.
- 6 white marbles
- 8 gray marbles
- 10 black marbles
- 49 round board pieces, called rings.
You must try to capture either
- 3 marbles of each color,
- or 4 white marbles,
- or 5 gray marbles,
- or 6 black marbles.
The winner is the first player to achieve one of these goals.
In total you have 49 rings. To play the basic game you need only 37 of
them. So, you don’t need the 12 remaining rings yet. After mastering
the basic strategies, you can use 11 of them to play ZČRTZ on a board
with 48 rings. (See point H. below: Expanded board.)
1. Take 37 rings and assemble a hexagonal game
Diagram 1: The board at the start of the
2. The 6 white, 8 grey and 10 black marbles are
the “pool”. Put the pool next to the board, so that both players can
easily reach the marbles.
3. Draw lots to determine who will go first.
C. Making a move
When it is your turn, there are two possible moves: you either place a
marble of any color on the board and then remove a ring, or you capture
one or more marbles.
Placing a marble and removing a board piece
1. When it is your turn, you first select a
marble from the pool. Next you must place it on the board. You may
select any color you wish and you may place the marble on any vacant
Important: the marbles, in the pool as well as on the
board, belong to both players (i.e. neither you, nor your opponent have
your “own” marbles to play with).
2. After you have placed a marble on the board,
you must remove a “free” ring. “Free” means: the ring must be vacant
and it must be positioned at the edge of the board. In other words,
there may not be a marble on it and you must be able to remove it from
the sides without disturbing the position of the remaining rings.
Diagram 2: only the rings with an
arrow may be removed.
3. Placing a marble and removing a ring is one
turn. You must do both. However, it may occur that you cannot remove
any of the vacant rings without disturbing the position of the other
rings. In this case you must not remove a ring (i.e. your move ends
after having placed a marble).
Note: don’t stack the rings
that you remove on top of each other. It is better to use them to put
your captured marbles on. (See Captured marbles below.)
1. Capturing is compulsory; you must do it if
2. To capture a marble, you must jump over it
with another marble (i.e. as in checkers). You may only jump over a
marble on an adjacent ring. You may jump in any direction if there is a
vacant ring behind the marble that you intend to capture.
3. The color of the marbles is of no importance
when capturing: you may jump with any marble over any other marble, no
matter the color, no matter whether you or your opponent placed it on
For example: you put a white marble on the board. A few moves later
your opponent places a grey marble next to it. There is a vacant ring
behind both marbles. You may select the option you think is most
advantageous: jumping with the white marble over the grey one or the
other way around.
4. If you jump over a marble and you have the
possibility to jump over a second one, then you must do so, no matter
in which direction you make the second (or third) jump.
Diagram 3: The arrows indicate the different
ways to capture.
1 -> 2 and 3
1 -> 2, 4 and 5
2 -> 1
3 -> 2 and 1 .
5. If you can capture different numbers of
marbles (e.g. in one direction 1 marble and in another direction 2
marbles), you may freely chose which possibility you’ll go for.
6. Capturing one or more marbles counts as a
complete move. In other words: that turn you may not place a marble,
nor may you remove a ring.
1. If you succeed in isolating one or more rings from the main part of
the board, you may claim the isolated rings, including the marbles on
them. Most of the times it will concern one ring, thus one marble, but
it is not limited to one. This “claiming” should be seen as a second
way of capturing marbles, but it is not compulsory.
Diagram 4: if you remove the ring indicated
by the arrow, you capture the marble on the isolated board piece.
2. You can only capture marbles this way if
there are no vacant rings in the isolated group. So, you may claim one
or more rings when you either put a marble on the last vacant ring of
an already isolated group, or remove the ring through which a group of
occupied rings gets isolated.
Note: you capture marbles this
way as a result of a move; it is not itself a move.
E. End of the
As mentioned at the beginning of these rules: the first player to
obtain either 3 marbles of each color, or 4 white marbles, or 5 grey
marbles, or 6 black marbles wins the game.
F. Special cases
1. It may occur that there are no more marbles
in the pool before the game has ended. In this case you must continue
with your captured marbles. As with selecting a marble from the pool,
you may choose any color of your captured marbles to play with - and
this goes on until one of the two players gets a winning set of marbles.
2. In the extreme event (not to exclude the
possibility) that all the rings would be occupied before either of the
players achieves one of the set goals, it is the one who put a marble
on the last vacant ring who wins. In fact, he may claim all of the
remaining rings, including the marbles, for this situation is to be
seen as an isolated group of occupied rings.
it would happen that two players start repeating the same sequence of
moves, the game ends in a tie.
A bit of strategy
See diagram 5 below! Player A is 5 marbles behind, but he can win the
game from here! He puts a black marble on ring 1 and removes ring 2. By
doing so, he forces Player B to jump over (and to capture) that black
marble. The fact that it is a black marble, means that Player B hasn’t
a winning combination yet. Then player A goes again: he puts a white
marble on ring 3 and removes 4. He captures the 2 white marbles on the
isolated rings and wins with a set of 4 white marbles!
ZČRTZ was initially released with only 37 rings. That is all you need
to explore the game and to find out how challenging it is. However,
once you have become an expert player you may want to play with more
The extra rings you need to
play ZČRTZ on a larger board were available from the beginning, but
only as a part of GIPF Set 2. This new version of ZČRTZ contains 12
more rings than the initial version. But be careful! Playing on an
enlarged board only makes sense if you have first mastered the basic
strategies. ZČRTZ is a fast and explosive game. If you add extra rings
too soon, you risk to turn it into a long, possibly even boring game -
and that is not the purpose!
On the other hand, once you
are familiar with the principles of making sacrifices and long
sequences of forced moves, then you will find an extra challenge in
making the board larger. For example: you can add a row 3 rings at one
side of the board. 3 extra rings don’t add that much complexity, but
they change the board into an irregular hexagon and that implies that
you now have more different opening moves. You can go one step further
and play with 6 or 7 extra rings. If you want to play the tournament
version, you must add 11 rings. The more rings, the harder it is to
control the game!
you don’t need extra marbles; the number of marbles and the conditions
to win remain unchanged.
Note 2: the 49th ring is a
spare piece. And you may need it if you have GIPF Set 2 and want to
play ZČRTZ with 24 extra rings.
on the isolated rings and wins with a set of 4 white marbles!
play with 40 rings: add rings 1.
To play with 43 rings: add rings 1 and 2.
To play with 44 rings: add rings 1 and 3.
To play with 48 rings: add all the rings.
H. Tournament rules
1. Tournaments are played on a board
that consists of at least 48 rings. (If you want to play on a board
that is even larger than 48 rings, you’ll need GIPF Set 2, which
contains 12 more rings. ZČRTZ with 24 added rings, thus on a board with
61 rings, may well become the ultimate tournament version some day.)
2. Handling the marbles and the rings:
(a) once you have taken a marble from the pool, you must play it (i.e.
you may not put it back and chose a marble of another color), (b) as
soon as you touch a ring with the marble you play with, you must put it
on that ring, and (c) as soon as you touch a vacant ring at the edge of
the board, you must remove that ring.
3. Capturing is compulsory, meaning
that you may force the opponent to take back his last move if he didn’t
do so. (Taking back a move includes putting back the removed ring.)
For example: you put a marble on the board and create an opportunity
for a capture. Your opponent does not capture; he takes a marble,
places it on the board and next removes a ring. You may have a look at
the new situation and either do the capturing yourself, or force your
opponent to take back his move and oblige him capture. (If you don’t
ask your opponent to take back his move and you don’t capture either,
then it is your opponent, when it is his turn again, who may force you
to take back your last move.
I. Blitz variant
This variant concerns the
original “Basic Game”. It is a short, very aggressive and unforgiving
version to play ZČRTZ. It is played on a board with 37 rings, and with
one marble less per color. So, you only need 5 white marbles, 7 grey
marbles and 9 black marbles. Now you must either capture only 2 marbles
of each color, or 3 whites, or 4 greys, or 5 blacks to win the game.