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Annactated game sequence

Posted By: Nack Ballard
Date: Thursday, 7 January 2010, at 6:24 a.m.

This post was originally intended to be a response to Stick's post. However, one thing led to another and before I knew it I had annactated in detail his entire fifteen-roll game sequence.

At the end of this post, I'll show the entire string as Stick nactated it, and how I would nactate it. (There is little difference.) Between here and there, you will see the sequence gradually unfold, giving you a chance to learn and practice Nactation as you go.

I have created a diagram for each position, so that you can follow along with this annactated game. My explanations address you -- the readership -- as a whole, though some of my comments are directed more to Stick (when you see "Stick:" followed by "Nack:").

Underneath each diagram, you are asked how you would nactate a move that can be played with the given dice roll. With a single exception, every problem has at least two answers. You are welcome to consult the Nactation tutorial, though it has not been updated to include some of the conventions and techniques described in this post.

The answers appear under the line of dashes following the question. Except where relevant to Nactation, I refrain from commenting on the strengths of the moves themselves.


2O ' ' ' '5X '3X ' ' '5O

2X ' ' ' '5O '3O ' ' '5X


Position ID: 4HPwATDgc/ABMA Match ID: cIkUAAAAAAAA

In the opening position (shown above), Blue rolls 51. How do you nactate his move 13/8 24/23?


Answer: "S." This stands for Split, and in Nactation that means splitting with one number and coming down with the other number.

When there is a choice of splitting moves, S splits with the larger number (and comes down with the smaller), while the backwards-S-looking "Z" (reverse split) splits with the smaller number (and comes down with the larger). When there is only one way to split, either S or Z is acceptable, but S -- the first letter in the word Split -- is preferable.

In other words, "51S" is the preferred way to write Blue's 51 roll plus play as a unit, but "51Z" is okay, too.


1O1O ' ' '5X '3X ' ' '4O

2X ' ' ' '5O '4O ' ' '5X



In reply, White rolls 21. How do you nactate her move 24/23 13/11?


Answer: Again, "S" (or "Z" is acceptable). Reasons are the same as those explained for Blue's 51S.


1O1O ' ' '5X '3X ' '1X4O

1X1X ' ' '5O '4O ' ' '4X


Position ID: 4HPkASjg8+ABKA Match ID: cAkLAAAAAAAA

Blue rolls 62. How do you nactate his move 23/15? Think a minute before reading the next paragraph, noting that there is a choice of running moves.


Stick: 62R is running from the 23pt whereas 62r would be running from the 24pt.

Nack: You are correct, sir -- "R" is the right answer. This is an application of the 6pt convention (closest to one's own 6pt gets the capital letter), which for R- and U-type moves means closest-to-home gets the capital.

In Nactation, each character has a family, and there is a hierarchy within each family. For R, it is [R, r], and in the unusual event that more running plays need to be distinguished, then [R, r, R, r] -- the third and fourth members of a letter family are italic.


1O ' ' ' '5X '3X '1O1X4O

1X1X ' ' '5O '4O ' ' '4X



White rolls 32. How do you nactate her move 13/11 13/10*?


Answer: "D," most simply. D means to bring two checkers Down (or one checker down if two-down isn't possible). White's hit on the 10pt is incidental to the use of D.

Another choice is "H" for Hit. With it comes the "down convention" which states that the unstated portion of a hitting move brings a checker down. That is exactly what happens in this situation: White hits with the 3 (13/10*) and the convention automatically brings the 2 down (13/11).

The other convention for hitting is "highest point." if there is a choice of points on which to hit, capital H is allocated to the highest point (i.e., where the most pips are gained by hitting). Here, White played 32H, hitting on the 10pt. But if, due to leaving her glasses at home, she hit on her 1pt (6/1*), that would be 32h.


1O ' ' ' '5X '3X '1X2X4O

1X1X ' ' '5O '4O ' ' '2X


Position ID: 4HOaASjg8+ABUA Match ID: cAkGAAAAAAAA

Blue rolls 41. How do you nactate his move Bar/24 6/2*?


Answer: "H" for Hit. With only one legal move that hits, there is no need to be fancy.

You may also use "e" (each), meaning to make half of the move in each inner board. Applying the (closest to) 6pt convention, E is Bar/21 6/5, and e is Bar/24 6/2* (with the hit being incidental).

Also acceptable is "X" -- the two criss-cross strokes of the letter stand for "hit" and "split". For letters like S, Z and X, the broader definition for the splitting half of the move includes simply moving (or entering) a checker on the far side of the board -- splitting, scooting or even anchoring or lifting it.

Finally, "2" is a clear answer for the Bar/24 6/2* play. There is only one legal move that plays a checker to the 2pt. (If no checker can be played to the 2pt, "2" refers to the 12pt, and if a checker can be played to neither of those points, "2" refers to the 22pt.)


2O ' ' ' '5X '3X '1X2X4O

1X1O ' ' '4O '4O ' ' '2X


Position ID: wvPgATDgc5oBUA Match ID: MIEGAAAAAAAA

White rolls 51 and plays Bar/20 24/23*. How do you nactate her move?


Answer: Again, "H." There is only one legal way to hit. If you couldn't think of this answer, heehaw twice (once for each H in that word) and all is forgiven.

Another good option is "U" for Up, which means one or both checkers up. Here, White brought up one checker as far as she could (Bar/20), and the other checker took up the slack for the rest of the roll (24/23) -- the hit being incidental.

[Multiple-checker-back positions can be very "uppity," so I married U to V (which, if you like, stands for Variant of up). The hierarchy is [U, V, u, v] (and behind those are [U, V, u, v] in the event of there being more than four Up plays). As there is only one Up play with 51, any member of the U/V family is unambiguous, though using one subservient to U would be unorthodox.]


2O ' ' ' '5X '3X '1X2X4O

 '1X ' '1X4O '4O ' ' '2X


Position ID: 4HOaARHgefAAWA Match ID: cAkHAAAAAAAA

Blue rolls 61. How do you nactate his move Bar/18?


Answer: Either "R" for Run, or "U" for Up. You can Run to anywhere in the 18pt-to-midpoint field (sometimes beyond), and you can play Up to anywhere in the 25pt-to-18pt field. The 18pt is the only point in both the R and U fields.

If you want to be cute, you can use "8." There is no legal move to the 8pt, so 8 must mean the 18pt. However, R (Stick's choice, and mine) or U is more readily understood.


2O ' ' ' '5X1O3X '1X2X4O

 '1X ' '1X4O '4O ' ' '2X


Position ID: 4HnwIDDgc5oBEQ Match ID: MAEFAAAAAAAA

White rolls 21. How do you nactate her move 10/7*?

This is advanced, so I'll provide a hint: it helps to use "assumptive Nactation" (or "assumption") explained in Section 6 of the tutorial. Once you have ventured your guess for 10/7*, read on.


Stick: The 217 falls back on old school notation for me and it is how I'd record it OtB. I do not know if there's a better way to nactate this but I'm positive 7 is what I would use. If we assume the player doesn't make the best play, @, then we could assume the hit portion of the play and then nactate them according to how the two is played but I prefer *7* here.

Nack: That looks like a two-part assumption. I would never assume that the player doesn't make the best play (or even a good play). I'm actually teasing: I think what you meant is that using a symbol that can't mean 23/20 (such as "7") takes care of the first part, and I'm just clarifying for the other readers. As for the second part, assumption can be a useful resource in Nactation; it's just a matter of the best execution.

You said, "...we could assume the hit portion of the play..." Well, then, why don't you? I prefer "8." The difference is that when the interpreter sees 7, referring to the 8/7* hit, the best 2 may not be obvious (indeed, 23/21 8/7* only evals .026 worse than 10/8), whereas if he sees 8, referring to 10/8, the 1 (hitting) is patently obvious.

Similarly, L works, because it means to Lift a blot onto a point of two or more checkers. A minor drawback is that a reader less than familiar with the two+ definition might try to "lift" the 23 blot onto the 20pt blot, and it is not helped by the fact that 23/20 is a better play than 10/7*. However, if I know my intended reader(s) are decent nactators, L is my choice, because I prefer a letter to a numeral.

With the assumption concept explained and the definition of L made clear, I'm changing the "7" in your sequence to "L" (with "8" being the other good choice).

No doubt, when you reread your own hand transcriptions and encounter a potential ambiguity (and it is an occasion when you also don't remember right away which play you saw made), you use deduction. For example, if you use "7" here, you could reason, knowing your style of Nactation, that you would have used B, x or s for 23/21 8/7* and therefore you must mean 10/8 with the 2. Fine. But I wouldn't want to burden someone else with (or rely on his) making such a deduction. Rather, I assume the more obvious portion and nactate the less obvious portion of a move, given the choice.

In traditional notation, you know with a roll of 21 that 7 must mean 10/7 because otherwise there would be two destinations stated. Nactation doesn't work that way because you always use one character. Applying the single-destination clue used in traditional notation to Nactation sounds laudable, but you will inevitably create unexpected ambiguities and deprive yourself of other resources.

[Warning -- technical: Stick, the best way to nactate 10/7* for an evil wizard who refuses to tolerate any assumptions is "8" (italic 8) or "l" (lower case L); Lord Voldemort himself is powerless to argue. After playing 10/8, the ace is first allocated to 6/5 (equidistant-from-6pt tie goes to the lower point) and then to 8/7. The 7 family is less fortunate with its deuce: 7 = 8/7* 8/6, 7 = 8/7*/5, 7 = 8/7* 6/4, and 7 = 8/7* 10/8 (i.e., 10/7*). Because numerals have no lower case option, you have to resort to both italics and underlines to squeeze out the fourth member of the family.]


2O ' ' ' '5X1X3X ' '2X4O

 '1X ' '1X4O '4O ' ' '2X


Position ID: 4OuYARHgefAAWA Match ID: cAkLAAAAAAAA

Blue rolls 62. How do you nactate his Bar/23 24/18* move?


Answer: Simplest is "H." If you guessed "h" or were afraid to guess because there are two ways to hit, go back and read the analysis of 32H and 32h (fourth move of the game). The H family first obeys "highest point" (because it's usually the best place to hit); hence, hitting on the 18pt is H, and hitting on the 2pt is h.

If you saw that H (Hit), R (Run) and U (Up) are all legitimate choices here, I consider you either a quick study or a seasoned nactator. If, in addition to seeing those three it occurred to you that "8" (for 18pt, as the 8pt cannot be legally moved to) works, I'm speechless with admiration.


1O1O ' ' '5X1O3X ' '2X4O

 '1X ' '1X4O '4O ' ' '2X


Position ID: 4HnwICjgc8yASA Match ID: MIEGAAAAAAAA

White rolls 51. How do you nactate her Bar/20 8/7* move?


Answer: Again, "H." If it didn't even occur to you to use H here, there may be tragically little hope for you, but by selecting a self-profile and posting it you will have done your penance.

Hitting on the 1pt with Bar/24 6/1* would be h instead of H. The 1pt is lower than the 7pt.

For Bar/20 8/7*, aside from H, you can use "7," with the hit being incidental. White has only one legal way to play a checker to her 7pt.

You can also use "B," which sometimes comes in handy, but since H and 7 are such clear alternatives, I won't explain B here. For the insatiably curious, click here and read a few paragraphs starting with, "For the other two moves..."


1O1O ' ' '5X1X2X ' '2X4O

 '1X ' '2X4O '4O ' ' '2X


Position ID: 4GvMgBHgefAAVA Match ID: cAkPAAAAAAAA

Blue rolls 63. How do you nactate his Bar/22 24/18* move?


Answer: Does "H" look familiar? If you picked H rather than h because the 18pt is a higher point than the 2pt, kudos, though you noticed more detail than necessary. You can use H for hitting on the 18pt even without seeing hits elsewhere, as long as there is no blot on a point higher than the 18pt that Blue can hit with the roll.

If you additionally saw U (Up) as an option, 10 points for Gryffindor. But your house loses back 50 points if you thought that R is okay (as it was with 62 two rolls ago or 61 four rolls ago). Using R, which here means 22/16 (strangely hurdling White's blot), would only serve to malign Blue's reputation.

If you really want to be clever with Bar/22 24/18*, you can use "r" (the second member of the R hierarchy) or "8" (discussed previously). However, as before, a conscientious nactator chooses characters he believes will be understood with immediacy and certainty.


 '1O1O ' '5X1O2X ' '2X4O

 '1X ' '2X4O '4O ' ' '2X



White rolls 53. How do you nactate her Bar/20 6/3* move?


Answer: I would use "E" (more on that later) or "h." I can hardly fault Stick's choice of "H," though. It is completely natural to assume White is unstacking her 6pt rather than busting her 8pt.

In related cases, more care is needed. For example, move one of White 6pt spares plus her 23pt blot to her 8pt (giving her 8pt and 6pt four checkers apiece). In the altered position, many if not most people would incorrectly guess which of Bar/22 8/3* or Bar/20 6/3* is better. The point is that a "better play" criterion to determine capital / lower-case allocation works poorly when the plays are close.

Back to the position at hand. Strictly speaking, if there is more than one way to hit on the 3pt (as here), leaving an extra checker on the 6pt (by 6pt convention) is awarded the capital. Therefore, 24/22 8/3* (ugh) is H, and the play made, 24/20 6/3*, is h.

So, is it better to use H or h? I think "h", because the reader will interpret it as 24/20 6/3* regardless of whether he is an assumer or goes by the book. OTOH, if you just like the look of the capital better, that's probably reason enough to choose H over h in this very lopsided scenario.

That said, you are not limited to H/h for Bar/20 6/3*. My preference is "E" (Each inner board). It is more obvious that (and how) the 6pt convention applies (noting that e is Bar/22 6/1, further from the 6pt), especially in situations like the altered position with four checkers on each of the 8pt and 6pt. In fact, I have replaced H with E in the official sequence, hoping that Stick won't injure himself laughing.


 '1O1X ' '4X1O2X ' '2X4O

 '1X ' '3X4O '4O ' ' '2X


Position ID: xDNmwBHgefAgSA Match ID: cIkWAAAAAAAA

Blue rolls 55. How do you nactate his Bar/10 23/18 move? This one is difficult for an inexperienced nactator, but make a guess if you like before reading on.


Stick: Lastly, the 55. With this play we assume the defensive bar point anchor is made and then have to choose how to play the other two fives. I would see the two candidate plays as R which runs the back checker around to the 10pt and P which would make the 3pt.

Nack: Yes, R is correct, though you actually don't need assumption in this case. You have the "extra point" convention working for you, which I'll define in a minute. First, I'll clarify the definition of running.

Any checkers that start in the 25pt-to-18pt field (eight points wide but loosely called the back quadrant in Nactation) and move to the outfield, or any checkers that start in the 17pt-to-14-pt segment that run no further than the midpoint, qualify as runners. (If you think about "running," it makes sense. 20/10 runs, and 18/13 runs, but something like 15/10 comes down.)

The furthest you can run with 55 here is to the 10pt, using up three 5s. The furthest you can then run with the fourth 5 is 18/13, so normally that would be your R move, except ...

The "extra point" convention states that when doublets are rolled and played in at least two areas of the board (the areas being far side, outer board, and inner board), making or retaining an extra point takes precedence. (This convention helps the best doublets plays rise to the top of the hierarchy a lot more often.)

Here with double 5s, Bar/15 runs furthest, and with that Blue has already played in two areas of the board. With the fourth 5, there are two running choices: 18/13 is runningest, but making the extra point with 23/18 takes priority. So, Bar/15 23/18 is R, and Bar/15 18/13 is r.

Because assumption is working in your favor, you can probably get by with using either R or r whichever way they're toggled. But IMO, it is useful to identify which one follows strict usage (which is trivial with practice) so that you can be assured of both aspects.

Another possibility is "0" (zero) meaning the 10pt, with an anchor assumption, but strictly speaking this would default to Bar/10 13/8 (by 6pt convention), whereas with R you have both assumption and strict usage working in your favor, making you happier than a Neil with a high-end comp.

[For the alternative candidate play Bar/20 23/18 8/3(2), you like P (for 3pt), as I do, but here again the extra point convention makes assumption an unnessary resource. Equally sound is C, for the same reason.]


 ' '1X ' '4X2O2X ' '2X4O

 '1X ' '3X4O '4O '1O '2X



White rolls 65. How do you nactate her 20/15*/9 move?


Answer: Simplest is "R." The running considerations here are similar to the last move (with Blue's double 5s.) White's own 9pt is the furthest she can run, so moving there receives top billing.

The additional twist is: when a running play can either hit or not hit, the hit is allocated the more hierarchal letter. Thus, Stick's correctly chosen R is 20/15*/9, while r is the eye-popping 20/14/9 (without hitting).

[For those as deranged as I am who want to see the rest of the progression, R is 20/14 20/15* is and r is 20/14 23/18.]

Another valid choice is "9." (Running to the 9pt without hitting is the italic "9.")

And, oddly enough, "H" works as well, applying the down convention: after the Hit (20/15*), White has only one 6 that comes down -- to the 9pt.

I have no real preference between R and H for this move. If White's 23pt checker were back on her 24pt (introducing a way for a tired or naive interpreter to go wrong), I would lobby for H.


 ' '1X ' '4X2O2X1X '2X4O

 '1X ' '2X4O '4O ' ' '2X


Position ID: xLPMgBHgefBgQA Match ID: cAkLAAAAAAAA

That brings us to the position known as "Permabox #6," where Blue rolls 62. I don't know which move was made in the actual game, so I am asking you to nactate both legal moves: (a) Bar/23 6/2*, and (b) Bar/23 13/7.


Answer: When a player is on the roof (bar), you typically have more nactative options, especially if part of the move is forced, as it is here. You can either ignore the forced entry on the 23pt and nactate only the 6, or you can choose to nactate the entire play.

I'll use two short paragraphs on each play:

(a) Bar/23 6/2*. If you nactate only the 6, you can either use "H" for Hit (my choice) or "2" for 2pt.

If instead you nactate the whole play, you can choose "X" (hit and split, using the broader definition of split), or "C" (Cross the bar with the 6, and play the 2 on the far side.)

(b) Bar/23 13/7. If you nactate only the 6, you can use "D" (Down), "$" (Slot) or "7" (7pt).

If you nactate the whole play, you can use S (Split), Z (reverse split), or B (Both up and down).

Does that mean that (b) is a better play than (a) because there are more ways to nactate the move? That's what I thought until I saw the rollout.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

As promised, here is Stick's original fifteen-roll play sequence. Underneath, is my corrective sequence, with the two differences underlined.

Stick: 51S-21S-62R-32D-41H-51H-61R-217-62H-51H-63H-53H-55R-65R-62
Nack: 51S-21S-62R-32D-41H-51H-61R-21L-62H-51H-63H-53E-55R-65R-62

Stick's Nactation in this long string was very impressive -- nearly perfect. The only change I feel is a clear improvement is 21L (or 218), which assumes the obvious 8/7* hit rather than the less obvious 10/8 lift that 217 assumes.

The 53H to 53E change (based on H being a technical code violation) is a trivial gain, if that. And it's a loss if the nactatee has never heard of E for non-doublets (though maybe that will spark him to read Section 4 of the tutorial).


Reference: Nactation tutorial

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