Hare and Tortoise
Published on: 1 August 2013
Hare and Tortoise game inventor David Parlett designed his celebrated game in 1974, and runs the World Championship for it each year at the Mind Sports Olympiad. Hare and Tortoise is a wonderful multiplayer game that is based on Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” where the tortoise wins the race by cunning while the hare fails because he overestimates himself and takes a nap during the race. The moral of the story is “slow and steady wins the race” which is incorporated in the game mechanic.
The 2013 World Championship will take place on the evening of August 17.
The game used a then new (as of 1974) game mechanic. Until then movement of pieces in race games was largely determined by the roll of dice. In Hare and Tortoise players pay carrots (the currency in the game) to move forward. The more squares the player wants to advance, the more carrots the player is to pay. The cost to advance increases in an arithmetic series:
1 square = 1 carrot
2 squares = price of 1 square + 2 = 3 carrots
3 squares = price of 2 squares + 3 = 6 carrots
4 squares = price of 3 squares + 4 = 10 carrots
And so on.
Players can earn carrots in various ways – most notably by moving backwards to designated squares (10 carrots per square). This game mechanic creates an interesting and dynamic race usually with no clear winner until the very end. The players start the game with 65 carrots. The gameboard features 65 squares. There are no generic squares; instead, the board is divided in several types of squares such as hare (draw a luck card), carrots (get extra carrots for each turn skipped), etc.
The factor of luck can be eliminated completely from the game by agreement between the players not to land on ‘hare’ squares.
The official world championships have been held as part of the Mind Sports Olympiad with David Parlett’s endoresement 7 times.
1997: British Chris Dickson (United Kingdom)
2007: British David M. Pearce (United Kingdom)
2008: British Tige Nnando (United Kingdom)
2009: British David M. Pearce (United Kingdom)
2010: Italian Dario De Toffoli (Italy)
2011: British Tige Nnando (United Kingdom)
2012: British Mike Dixon (United Kingdom)