board games dark blues bemused by reds and greens

Imagine a two-player strategy game, a little like chess, in that the object is to capture the enemy king, a little like Go, in that the strategy is one of encircling rather than annihilating, a little like snooker or croquet in that any bad move is liable to be punished by your opponent, making a string of devastating replies without your having the chance to move, and a little like applied nematology, in that your pieces join together in worm-like structures that may either slither across the board or be chopped into pieces and scattered in all directions. Roll all of those into one and you have Fibonacci, a game devised eight years ago, but only now beginning to attract serious interest.

At the end of last month, the computer company Psion sponsored the first formal Fibonacci competition, a match between Oxford and Cambridge, which the Cambridge side won convincingly by 27 games to 5.

The rules are simple: the two sides, red and green, each have six "strike" pieces and six "support" pieces with which to lure the enemy "centre piece" into the open and surround it.

The action takes place on a hexagonal board, and the first to surround his opponent's centre piece with all six strike pieces is the winner.

Pieces in connected formations appear to glide together either to home in on the enemy centre piece or to ambush the opponent's strike pieces and fling them out of the way, to slow down the enemy's advance.

While they waited at the Cambridge Union for the Oxford side to arrive, the home side - all mathematicians - played some final practice games. Their state of unease was obvious when one game ended after about 10 seconds and seemed to blow a hole in the strategy they had been working on together for the past fortnight. "This is going to be a real pig if we discover a major flaw in our opening 20 minutes before the match," said one player.

They need not have worried. It soon became clear that the Oxford side was a long way behind in its analytical preparations. The Cambridge players received their Psion Series 3A computers as prizes, and were then all soundly thrashed at Fibonacci by Thomas Naylor, the game's originator.

After inventing it in 1987, naming it after a 13th-century Italian mathematician, and launching it to rave reviews in the specialist games press in 1990, he was happy to see it come through a serious test at the hands of the games players of Oxford and Cambridge.

The winning side, however, was more cautious in its assessment of the game. The players' enthusiasm for Fibonacci was clear, and its ability to absorb and challenge them was obvious - they had even improvised a vocabulary of technical terms for various strategic formations and tactical themes. Yet they were open-minded on the question of whether in-depth analysis was likely to produce a forced win for one side or the other. Strategy games may fail to survive, either because a definitive correct strategy is found, or because they are simply too difficult for humans ever to play really well. Yet it may take years to discover if either of those outcomes is likely.

Is Fibonacci a good game? "The jury's still out on that one," the Cambridge players agreed before the match had begun. By the end of it though, their collective opinion seemed considerably more positive.

Fibonacci is available from Hamley's or specialist games shops for pounds 19.99. Further info from Thomas Naylor on 0171-352 2911

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN Coordinator + Teacher

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Teaching Assistants

£50 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing ...

Supply Teachers needed in Stowmarket

£1034496 - £1516224 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: The Job:Randstad ...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week