Sometimes I find games by accident. I suddenly saw that the one-bound-one-free opening protocol would serve perfectly to rid Othello of its rigid mechanical move protocol, and would result result in a much freer and more organic game. The protocol inherently serves as a turn order balancing mechanism. Even if one could establish some theoretical advantage for say the first player to move after the entering stage, which seems unlikely to begin with, then it would still be up to the players to try and become that player.

Io is much better than Othello. It has neither Othello like compulsory capture, nor compulsory passes. Where in Othello Black and White face different subsets of the vacant squares for legal placement, with an occasional square available to both, in Io all vacant squares are always accessible for both. Having to consider a square not only for placement, but also for placement by the opponent, already makes a big difference. In Io squares may be tempting for both, or inaccessible for both on tactcal grounds, or 'miai', where two squares have a relationship in which the taking of one by one player must be answered by the taking of the other by the opponent. Io is drawless and inherently balanced. In its free placement stage the considerations, both strategical and tactical, are more varied and intricate than those Othello can provide. In the entering stage these considerations must of course merge with the requirements of the protocol, which leads to specific dilemmas.
The game uses an odd sized board, say 7x7 or 9x9, to prevent draws, but an 8x8 game is entirely possible, so with an Othello set you can check out the game for yourself.

Io is not the first game I invented accidentally, but it happens to be the last one I invented.



Io © MindSports
Java applet © Ed van Zon