بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

July 11, 2012

Pasang Emas vs traditional pasang

The game rules implemented in Pasang Emas are based on two major sources. The first source is a book named "Mari Bermain Pasang" published by the Brunei Museum. The book is unfortunately very vague about the rules and cannot really be used as a definitive reference. The second source is an actual human expert whose authority in pasang is unquestionable.

Pasang Emas truly implements the rules of pasang, except for a few harmless deviations. These includes the following non-enforcements of traditional rules:
  • Traditionally, in the opening move the second player must choose a passage from a diagonally opposite quarter of the board. This is to allow quiet development. In Pasang Emas, the second player may select a passage near the first player's, thus allowing immediate open confrontation.
  • Traditionally, the player who captures the last piece will be the first player to move in the next round. In Pasang Emas, there is no such rule.
  • The kas can either be selected by sliding a piece adjacent to the empty passage, or by jumping over such a piece. Traditionally, both player must agree to select by jumping only or by sliding only. Pasang Emas does not include this restriction.
By not enforcing these rules, Pasang Emas is actually enriching the game without spoiling its flavour. In a networked human-vs-human game, the players may still follow the traditional restrictions.

The most significant deviation is the following:
  • Traditionally, a player may partially capture a capturable line of tokens. For example, if a player can capture a line of 5 tokens, she may choose to capture just 3 of them. In Pasang Emas, the player must capture the entire line.
I suspect partial captures are mostly used as a handicap against temperamental losers. By not allowing this flexibility, Pasang Emas has changed the game somewhat. It is conceivable that sometimes a partial capture is indeed the best move. But, it is not clear whether the game is better with or without it. In any case, I don't think this is a severe deviation as partial captures are rarely used. I personally hasn't witnessed any.

There is another deviation which I don't consider a deviation at all:
  • Traditionally, a player cannot interfere with the opponent’s development. In particular, a player cannot "steal" tokens that are opened up and claimed by the opponent, unless such a move is necessary to avoid suntuk (running out of moves). Pasang Emas cannot implement this imprecise rule.
The no-stealing rule is really vague that it has no place in a serious game. It forbids players from interfering with each other’s development. How, while the battle is fought over a common field? I would see no validity in my opponent’s advanced claim over a territory because any given position arises out of a duel rather than a single-handed manoeuvre.

Like any traditional games, there must be several folk versions of pasang out there, possibly with incompatible rules. (I have even heard of pasang for four players). The rules implemented by Pasang Emas are the "standard", the same ones taught in schools for their extra-curricular activities.

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