The Little Golem Community Blog

Havannah on Little Golem

Submitted by Richard Malaschitz ★ on Friday, 31 October 2008

With permission of Christian Freeling I implement Havannah on Little Golem. Havannah was invented by Christian Freeling in 80'. In 1981 and 1982 game gained Spiel des Jahres Recommendation.


Havannah belongs to the family of connection games as TwixtPP or Hex. Game is played on hex board with 8 cells per side. Bigger or smaller boards are possible too and game is often played on board with 10 cells per side.
  • Each player places one stone of their color on the board per turn.
  • Stones are never moved, captured, or otherwise changed.
  • A player wins when they complete one of three different structures from unbroken lines, or paths, of connected stones, all of their color:
    • A ring is a loop around one or more cells (no matter whether the encircled cells are occupied or empty).
    • A bridge, which connects any two of the six corner cells of the board.
    • A fork, which connects any three edges of the board. Corner points are not considered parts of an edge.


  • Mindsport - this is best page about Havannah. There are articles with basic tactic, strategy and two example games.
  • BoardGameGeek - On BoardGameGeek has Havannah average rating 7.05 (more than Hex, Twixt, Four in Row or Gomoku)
  • Wikipedia - short article on Wikipedia.

Implementation on Little Golem

Implemented version is with 8 cells per side. I am planning implement all sizes between 4 and 10 cells per side soon. iPhone version is implemented too.


Submitted by halladba on Friday, 31 October 2008

Thank you very much. We really appreciate your commitment to LG Richard!

Submitted by David J Bush ★ on Saturday, 01 November 2008

Thanks Richard! Wow, all sizes from 4 through 10? That’s 7 different games, more than the choices for Hex, Go, and Twixt combined. I would be happy with just two choices, 8 side or 10 side. Although Christian Freeling did not include the swap rule, many other players who are stronger than Christian wish he had done so. The first move confers a distinct advantage. I hope you will implement the swap rule for Havannah. Can a get a second for my proposal? :-)

Submitted by Ray Garrison ★ on Saturday, 01 November 2008

Yes, I second it. the swap rule is a good idea and certainly can hurt.

Submitted by Richard Malaschitz ★ on Saturday, 01 November 2008

Swap rule is theoretically proper rule, but it is one more rule odd. Mainly for beginners it is strange rule – unknown from known games as chess, checkers, scrabble, etc..

Submitted by Richard Malaschitz ★ on Saturday, 01 November 2008

But decision about swap rule is not depend on me: Christian Freeling is playing here.

Submitted by halladba on Saturday, 01 November 2008

I agree with David about sizes. I do not think that all sizes are needed. For Hex or Go for instance, it’s just fine: different style of play = different games, but not too many. If there were 7 Havannah games, would there be 7 havannah championnships ? and 7 havannah ratings ? The problem is there will not be 7 times more new players, and most current players will not spend 7 times more time on LG playing havannah. Therefore we may end with only few people playing size 8, few people playing size 9, few people playing size 10...

Submitted by Marius Halsor on Sunday, 02 November 2008

I agree with halladba. On another site I would love the flexibility of choosing the board size myself, but on LG, with its championship and monthly cup structure, I think two sizes would be the best solution. On the other hand, having seven different sizes would once and for all end the discussion about whether or not games with different sizes should be weighted in the Monstership and Monster rating...

Submitted by beppi on Sunday, 02 November 2008

Good game and nice graphics :-)

Submitted by ab on Sunday, 02 November 2008

Board sizes 4..7 are actually to small (only to try for beginners ...), size 8 is good, size 10 is unnecessary large, games take too long, especially on turnbased servers. However, since the last argument also applies to Go 19x19 (people are still playing it, even if a game takes months) it is probably only my personal opinion. I’d say: keep size 8 for a while (with swap of course ...), then think about adding either size 9 or 10 (or none of the two)

Submitted by Ed Collins on Monday, 03 November 2008

Wow, I come back from working out of town and what do I see... Havannah’s been implemented! Alright!

Submitted by Ed Collins on Tuesday, 04 November 2008

I vote for one additional size... size 10. I agree with some of the other posts...anything less than 8 is too small, and anything larger than 10 (at least for now) is needlessly large.

Submitted by Marius Halsor on Tuesday, 04 November 2008

More important than a new size is to get the swap rule implemented. The first move advantage seems to be very large. If we get another size as well, which will be great, I vote for size 12, as I think 8 and 10 are too similar. I believe at size 12 rings will play a much larger part, not only as a threat to make a fork, but even as a goal in itself.

Submitted by ypercube ★ on Tuesday, 04 November 2008

Or maybe size 11. Size 12 sounds too big.

Submitted by Marius Halsor on Wednesday, 05 November 2008

Well, so far, my games have taken typically around 40 moves to finish, which is not very much. Sure, it will increase rather dramatically with size, but I think size 12 is manageable, and preferrable to really make it different from size 8.

Submitted by Thomas on Thursday, 06 November 2008

I vote for sizes 8 and 11, with swap rule.

Submitted by Ed Collins on Thursday, 06 November 2008

Marius... 8 and 10 might be too “similar” but shouldn’t we have size 10? Isn’t size 10 the “official” size, the size Christian Freeling initially recommended when he invented the game? If so, I feel we need that size just to pay tribute to the game! If anything larger than 10 is implemented, I’ll probably leave those board sizes to you diehards! I really think size 10 will keep me satisfied for a long, LONG time! (I suck at size 8! I’m not gonna be any better with anything larger!) And if I had to vote for or against a swap rule, I suppose I’d vote for one... I’m one who doesn’t believe it can hurt... but I’d also like to see more data, once its available, on how often Black (who moves first) wins.

Submitted by Orbilin on Saturday, 08 November 2008

I think 8 is just fine, I don’t expect to register for the tournament for any other size, either too simple, or too boring. But I’m very happy this fantastic game is finally here! It is one of my favorites. :-) Can we have Ultima next please (the chess-look-alike with very dynamic gameplay)?

Submitted by Thomas on Sunday, 09 November 2008

Hmm... 8 and 10 seem a bit near to each other, but if 10 is kind of “official” size and very common, it should of course be prefered.

Submitted by christian freeling on Friday, 19 December 2008

Hi guys, my thoughts on a pie. First of all I don’t object, go right ahead. We didn’t implement the option in our applet at mindsports, but opened it in a ‘roundabout’ way for players who want and agree to use it. The reasons I didn’t implement it in the rules at the time, was that any first move can be utilized creatively. White’s advantage on a base-8 board is considerable where high level players are concerned, less so in the lower echelons, because then it is outweighed by the players' errors. On a base-10 board white’s advantage, is not much of an issue anymore. Look at my last game at mindsports (player/spectator section, havannah finished games) against Omar Syed. He went for a race from the onset, playing white. I started a fraction lower (ie. closer to the edge) and managed to draw a defensive response and win the race.

Submitted by MathPickle on Monday, 22 December 2008

What a fantastic addition! I too would like the swap rule – otherwise we should not expect scores rising beyond 1900.