Stone Go Boards

Engraved 17x17 go board

Gretchen and I have been working on stone Go boards.  For some reason, no one is making Go boards on stone.  So she made me this one for my birthday.

go board with a few stones

We did multiple processes to get the final product, starting with a tile, and then cutting it to the right dimensions, cutting the grid into the stone, and then painting a silvery color on the lines.  One of the most interesting things we discovered about Go boards is that the tiles are not perfectly square–there’s actually an optical illusion to overcome in order to make them appear square.

go board close

Anyways, as you can see, the final product was AMAZING, so we’ve been looking into making them to sell as a product as well.  It’s really a refined furnishing; a functional piece of art.

We posted this ebay add to see if there was interest, and there is–in fact one person said he would buy it if it were at a lower price–so we’re going ahead with this.  The current process is quite expensive, but we have plans for lowering the cost to make it more accessible.  Stay tuned, and you too could have one!

We also have plans for using different kinds of tiles for the boards.  The above picture is our favorite slate tile, but it would be really fun to have a marble line, jade line, and others we have in mind.

With that being said, we’re still gauging interest.  Can you help us by taking a one question poll below?

Board game design

Lately I’ve been re-discovering my love of designing board games…I’ve been very lucky to run across a fellow board game designer who can also do graphics, so I’m hopeful of getting a kickstarter campaign on at some point.

Here’s a couple pictures of my latest design…I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll give you a hint…it involves a rotating labyrinth.   :-)

labyrinth nodes

labyrinth sections

Today I was appalled to find that Double Solitaire, a game my family has played since time immemorial, does not exist on BoardGameGeek.com or anywhere on the Internet.  There are a few obscure games that call themselves Double Solitaire but are not the same game at all.  This is a very fun real-time card game that is one of my family’s favorites, and even though I don’t typically play many playing-card games, this is one exception that I will gladly play at a moment’s notice.  It may remind you of Speed but it is very different and better IMO.  So without further ado:


Double Solitaire is a card game that uses a standard 52-card deck per player.  It is a real-time game where players manipulate a personal area (with rules from the famous single-player game, Solitaire/Klondike) while competing with the others to play cards in a central area that give them points at the end of the game.


Each player starts with a standard, 52-card deck of playing cards.  The decks must all be of different designs (so that they can be sorted out at the end of the game for scoring purposes).  Then each player places 12 cards face-down in a pile on his left, with a 13th card face-up.  This is the player’s stack.  Then deal one card (each) face-up into four different slots to the right of the stack.  These four piles, along with the stack, are the player’s “personal area.”  In the middle of the table, it is important for there to be plenty of space between the personal areas for the shared area.  It starts with no cards in it.  The 35 cards remaining are the player’s deck.


The goal is to have the most points at the end of a round.  Points are determined by the number of cards from a player’s deck that end up in the shared area in the middle of the table.  Points are deducted for the number of cards remaining in a player’s stack, so it is also a goal to eliminate cards from the player’s stack.  There are multiple rounds until a player reaches 100 points.


When all players announce they are ready, one player counts down from 3, and then all players start play simultaneously.  Each player constantly decides to do one of two things: manipulate their personal area, or sift through their deck. 

The Personal Area:

In the personal area, players may move cards in the four piles according to Solitaire rules (i.e. a black 8 may be played on a red 9).  Series of cards may be transferred between piles so long as the resulting series follows the rules.  Cards from the stack may be moved onto any of the 4 piles, but cards may not be moved from the piles onto the stack.  One of the goals of the game is to deplete your stack.  Each time a card is moved from your stack, flip the next card face-up.

At any time that an Ace is in a player’s personal area, he may move it to the shared area.  Also, any top cards (the top card in a series or the stack) may be played from the personal area to the shared area on top of a card that is one rank less than it of the same suit (i.e. a 2 of hearts may be played on an Ace of hearts).  This is usually done as soon as possible, as cards in the central area give the player points at the end of the game.

The Shared Area:

Often, players will be competing to play their cards in the common area as soon as a position is available (i.e. a 2 of spades is face-up.  Two players have a 4 of spades and therefore are waiting for a 3 of spades to be played).  In these cases, whichever player places his card on the valid slot first wins, and the other player must put his card back where he took it from.  The deciding factor is the player who places his card underneath the other player’s card; however, it is strictly forbidden to purposefully push the other player’s hand out of the way during play.  Also, if the players pushed some cards off of another pile during a conflict, the winning player must reorganize the scattered pile.  He may ask for gameplay to be paused if this requires more than two seconds.

Also, whenever playing in the shared area, players must only use one hand.  This prevents a player from playing a 3 of hearts with his right hand immediately followed by the 4 of hearts with his left.  Other players must be given a fair opportunity at the new slot.

Sifting the Deck:

If a player has no moves he wishes to make in his personal area, he goes through his deck.  He holds his deck in one hand, with all cards face-down.  Then he plays two cards face-down in front of him and plays the third one face-up.  He then decides if he wants to play the third card anywhere in his four piles or in the shared area.  If he does not, he flips it face down (on top of the other face-down card) and then repeats (plays two more cards face-down and the third face-up).  When he gets to the end of his deck, he always flips the final card face-up, no matter if it was a first, second, or third.  He now picks up his deck again and repeats the process.  (Alternate rules for easy-mode: the player goes through his deck one at a time instead of only seeing every third card.)

Game End and Scoring:

The game ends when one player takes the final, 13th card from their stack, plays it on one of their piles or in the shared area, and yells, “out”!  That player does not necessarily win.  All other players count the number of cards remaining in their stack; they count as negative points against them.  Then players help to sort out all cards in the shared area by whose deck it was played from (turning the cards over to see the backs makes this easier); these count as points for players.  Each player subtracts their stack points from their shared area points and that is their score.  A scorekeeper tallies their score and that is the end of the round.  If one player has reached 100 or more, the game is over and the player with the highest score declared the winner.  If multiple players are tied for first, they play a final round between them.

Other Miscellaneous Rules:

Addressing confusion

If a player suspects that a rule has been violated or is confused about the validity of an event, he may ask for the game to be paused.  If he does, all players must stop play entirely and discuss what has happened.  Once a consensus is reached and any corrective action has been fully implemented, then the player implementing the corrective action announces “go,” and play continues.  Note: a player may not request a pause for any reason other than a suspected rule violation, such as time to think.  Thinking quickly is the basis of the game.

Handicap rule

If a player is younger or new to the game, the players may vote to allow him to play with less cards in his stack.  Typically they allow him to have only 9-down, 1-faceup instead of the typical 12-down, 1-faceup.

Variant players

Any number of players greater than 1 may play this, provided they have a deck for each player with a unique design.  Such games are called “triple solitaire”, “quadruple solitaire”, etc., but follow the exact same rules.

Getting Stuck

Occasionally, a player may get “stuck.”  This happens when he cannot play any cards from his personal area to the shared area, and he has gone through his deck twice since this first happened.  If one player is stuck, he must wait till another player plays something in the common area that he can play on.  If all players agree that they are, then all players shuffle their decks and then continue at the same time.  [Alternate rules: players pick up their decks and look through them as they please.]

Closing Remarks:

That’s it!  If you like this game, please share it with your friends, and vote for it and review on BoardGameGeek.com!  Also let me know if you want any rules clarifications OR if you think future posts on strategy would be cool/helpful.

The Malleability of IQ

Today I entertained my hubris by taking an online IQ test by the most reputable provider I could find (although I must say, the name FreeOnlineIQTest still makes me question it).  At any rate, after smugly noting what percentage of my species were “beneath” me, I began to contemplate the real meaning of intelligence.  First of all, we know that IQ is just a measurement we try to make of intelligence, which A.I. experts have been trying to define for 80 years.  Since we can’t even know what it is, we certainly can’t definitively measure it.  So my disclaimer is that everything anyone (including me) says about intelligence is, strictly speaking, speculation.

Can IQ change?

Something in me revolts against the idea of IQ being a measurable, set thing.  The idea that everyone has a certain IQ, and it doesn’t change.  There are several problems with this.  First of all, we know that not everything is in the genes.  Philosophers have been having the Nature vs Nurture arguments for 100s of years, and the fact that they can’t disprove the other is a testimony to the incredible effect that both have on human development.  With the overwhelming evidence we have on this, there’s no way you can say that anything mental is contained only in genes.  (Also there are some studies today that indicate that genes can be turned on and off; we at least know that certain parts of them can.)

Furthermore, we know intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with the size of your brain or how many brain cells you have.  These two theories have been discredited long ago.  A National Geographic article on the brain showed that more intelligent people don’t actually think more; they think less.  Their brains have optimized the amount of neurons needed to solve different types of problems.  This has always resonated true with me; I am “smarter” than others in certain areas simply because I have figured out the most efficient way to solve that type of problem.

So intelligence has to do with how your brain works, not hardware.  And of all the organisms known to man, the brain is the most complex.  Our science still isn’t even close to understanding it.  The feedback loops are incredible, in fact, the brain seems to be the most malleable thing within comprehension–or outside of it, actually.  And we know that regions of the brain can shrink and grow, and we know that humans can learn nearly anything under the Sun.  It’s not necessarily easy–in fact, it may take 10,000 hours to master a field (note: it also may not, depending on the field).  But anything is possible.

So why would not intelligence itself be malleable?  Would that not be the ultimate feat for a perfectly re-wirable circuit?  If you read none of the other links on this page, read this article with a lot of good research behind it.

 Personal Application

Now, think about your own life.  When did you first discover how intelligent you were?  Was it at four, your mother saying “wow”at your watercoloring, or your dad laughing at your writing?  Or your brother looking up to you because of a math problem, or your sister mocking you because you weren’t socially savvy?

Now consider this: if the childhood years are a human’s most malleable, and the idea of how intelligent you were originated from voices outside of you…then you formed a belief about yourself based on outside observations and your experiences, which may or may not have had anything to do with reality.  We know that beliefs are extremely powerful: they are the basis of religion, politics, family, and survival of the human species.  And beliefs are hard to change, as evidenced by how many children have the same religion or political stance as their parents.  Not all of them do, but the fact that there’s a strong correlation implies that beliefs are largely based on our environment.  This is true even of adopted children.  They tend to believe what their adopted parents do.

In summary, the truth is: you don’t have to go on believing that you are unintelligent.  Everyone wonders about their intelligence; that is inevitable.  I’ll use myself as an example: I graduated Valedictorian in high school, scored 34 on the ACT, went to a private university, received an engineering degree, and landed a decent job fresh out of college.  But I question myself every day: am I really stupid?  Or am I smart?  I oscillate incessantly.  I have come to realize that I subconsciously compare myself to peers constantly, wondering if I measure up or not.  This doesn’t sound rational, but humans by-and-large are very insecure.  You could point out my accomplishments, and I would think, “Yes, but maybe it wasn’t that hard to get Valedictorian, there was a small sample size, and there’s more to intelligence than test scores, and going to college doesn’t make you smarter, and I did almost flunk out at one point, and what if I’m really not as smart as others in my workplace?” I have come to realize that this is simply completely normal.  But I fear for people who haven’t figured that out.

So please, realize your full potential.  Don’t stop at where you are.  Learn that you are intelligent; you have one of the same amazing engines of intelligence as everyone else on the planet.  Using it is simply up to you.

Older Posts »