Abstract (themeless) strategy games such as chess, draughts, Go and Reversi/Othello are among the most popular and enduring that people play. How does Abalone stack up against these? I was provided with a copy of this game for review purposes. The first thing you notice when you open Abalone’s eye-catching hexagonal box is how simple […]
I was provided with a copy of this game for review purposes.
The first thing you notice when you open Abalone’s eye-catching hexagonal box is how simple its contents are. Two pleasingly solid sets of 14 marbles – one black, one white – and a black hexagonal board. That’s it.
There are no convoluted rules to learn: it’s more like draughts than chess in this respect. The instruction booklet, such as it is, is just four pages long. From opening up the packaging, you can be all clued up and playing for the first time within five minutes.
The board itself initially seems light and plasticky but is actually strong and durable and stands up to repeated play. It comprises 61 holes that can hold individual marbles. A six-sided ‘moat’ runs around the outside, ready to catch any marbles that are pushed over the edge.
Jan Hein Donner playing in Beverwijk, Netherlands, January 12, 1960
“I love all positions.
Give me a difficult positional game, I will play it.
Give me a bad position, I will defend it.
Openings, endgames, complicated positions, dull draws,
I love them and I will do my very best.
But totally won positions, I cannot stand them.”
(Hein Donner in the Clubblad Doodzonde Denken, 1950)
Johannes Hendrikus ‘Jan Hein’ Donner, Dutch chess grandmaster (1927-1988)