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Hex: Basic Strategy I

The road to wisdom? - Well, it's plain 
and simple to express: 
   and err 
   and err again 
   but less 
   and less 
   and less. 

About Hex

The Inventors

Basic Strategy II

3 Problems

The entire basic strategy for playing Hex can be seen by analyzing a game played on a 2x2 Hex board. We'll assume here that White always moves first. 

2 x 2 Hex Board
the simplest game
White wins if the opening move is made on one of the two marked hexes a1 and b2, called the main diagonal of the board. White will lose otherwise. Why? Opening on the main diagonal creates a bridge for White to the opposite edge. Forming a bridge (referred to as a 2-bridge in the FAQ) means that White has a double-play to create a chain of pieces. 

For example, if White opens on a1, then on her next move White can play either a2 or b2; either move will win. 

White opens to a1
White builds a bridge
Black, on his first play, cannot block both moves. If he plays on a2, White plays b2 and wins. If he plays b2, White plays a2 and wins. (Of course, if Black plays b1, White can play either a2 or b2 and win.) Likewise, if White opens on b2, she creates the bridge a1/b1 to the other edge, forcing a win. 
However, if White opens on one of the acute corners of the board, off the main diagonal, it is Black who creates the bridge. If White opens on b1, for example, Black responds with b2. This move blocks White's winning move to b2 and creates the bridge a1/a2, forcing a win for Black. 
White opens to b1
Black builds a bridge
The basic strategy for each player, then, on any size board, is to: 
  • create bridges connecting their two edges of the board
  • prevent the other player from creating bridges
Playing closer to the center of the board, especially early in the game, makes the creation of bridges easier.
Hex-7 Basic Strategy II