one creation of Kris Burm
To begin with a comforting notion: GIPF is not hard to learn. The length of these rules is not meant to overwhelm you. It is a result of our attempt to be as complete as possible, so that every player - even those unfamiliar with strategic games - will find the answers to every possible question. Take some time to review these rules. If you do, you will discover a pure and challenging game, offering plenty of variation and inexhaustible possibilities.

One game board, 18 white basic pieces, 18 black basic pieces. The rules are separated into 3 parts:
  1. Basic rules. How to play GIPF with pieces in their elementary application.
  2. Standard rules. How to play the standard version and introducing GIPF-pieces, i.e. 2 pieces stacked one upon another.
  3. Tournament rules. The version for advanced players.


A. Game board
The board shows a pattern of lines. Each line starts and ends with a dot, and has in between these dots a number of intersections with other lines. These intersections are called spots.
  1. There are 24 dots at the edges of the pattern on the board. Dots aren't part of the play area; they serve to position a piece before bringing it into play.
  2. The play area is made up of 37 37 spots (i.e. the central part of the board). Only the pieces covering a spot are part of the game.
  3. The lines indicate the directions in which pieces may be moved.

B. Starting the game
  1. The players draw lots for their color. White begins.
  2. The basic version is played with 15 pieces per player. The remaining pieces can be used either to play a longer game.(i.e. both players start with 1, 2 or 3 extra pieces) or to equate the strength of the players (i.e. the less experienced player gets an advantage of 1, 2 or 3 pieces).
The board must be placed between the players in such a way that the dot marked "E1" points at the player with the white pieces.
The players start the game with 3 pieces each on the board. They are to be placed on the angular dots, the colors alternating with each other, and next moved to the first spot in the direction of the centre. Now they are in play.

Diagram 1
Starting position. Each player has 12 pieces left. Pieces which are not in play are hereafter referred to as the reserve.
C. Goal
The aim is to capture opponent's pieces, so that eventually he has no pieces left in his reserve (i.e. he can't play any more).

D. A turn
The players take turns. Each turn a player must add one piece to the game and this must be done in 2 steps: one takes a piece from his reserve and places it on any of the 24 dots (step 1) and then moves it onto a spot in the play area (step 2).

1. First one must put a piece on a dot (step 1). A piece is not in play as long as it is covering a dot, meaning that the turn isn't completed. One has two options for the second step:
  • One can push a piece from a dot onto a free spot in the play area. As soon as a piece is pushed in the direction of a spot, one cannot change his mind anymore. The move must be made.
  • One can also push a piece from a dot to a spot already occupied by another piece. In this case, the occupied spot must first be cleared: the piece occupying it (regardless of its color) must be moved to the next spot on the line; if that spot is also occupied, then this piece also moves over one spot, etc. Next, one pushes the new piece onto the cleared spot. Note that all the pieces are moved in one and the same direction. It is advisable not to "push" a row of pieces; always move pieces one by one, starting with furthest piece in the row. Once a player has touched a piece in the play area, the move must be completed.
Diagrams 2a
White puts a piece on dot b1. This is step 1.     

Diagrams 2b
Step 2: White moves over the pieces on the b1-i4 line 1 spot. This completes the move.

2. One can move a piece only one spot at a time, never two or more.

3. It is not allowed to push a piece out of the play area (i.e.onto the dot at the opposite far end of a line).

Diagram 3
The indicated lines are blocked.

E. Taking pieces
1. As soon as 4 pieces of the same color are lined up next to each other, they must be taken from the board by the one playing with that color. Moreover, not only must these 4 pieces be removed, but also all of the pieces that form a direct extension of them. The pieces of one's own color are returned to the reserve, the pieces of the other color are captured, thus lost for the opponent.

4a) Black removes 4 black pieces. (Note that the free spot interrupts the row!)
4b) Black removes 4 black pieces and 1 white.
4c) Black removes 5 black pieces and 1 white.
4d) Black removes 5 black pieces and 2 whites.

2. As soon as 4 pieces of the same color are lined up, it is compulsory to remove them from the board (included the pieces extending the row), no matter who created the row. The color of the pieces in a row determines which player must take them. One's own pieces are returned to the reserve, the opponent's pieces are captured.
Diagram 5a
Step 1: White puts a piece on spot b1…     
Diagram 5b
Step 2: … and forces Black to return 5 pieces to his reserve. If a white piece would have extended the row (on spot c5), Black would have captured it.

3. It may occur that two rows are lined up at the same time. If these rows don't intersect, both must be captured; if they do intersect, the player playing with that color may choose which row he will take.

Diagram 6:
Black may choose between taking the row with 4 pieces or the one with 5 pieces. After having removed one row, the other isn't complete any more. The remaining pieces must be left on the board.

4. When a situation occurs in which both players must take pieces, the player who caused the situation goes first.

Diagram 7
White has made the move indicated by the arrow and may take pieces first. He takes 4 white pieces and 1 black piece. Next Black must remove his 4 black pieces and captures nothing.
(If Black would have made that move - with a black piece, of course - he would have captured 2 white pieces.)

5. capturing pieces does not count as a turn! (See again illustrations 5a and 5b: White forces Black to take pieces; Black removes the pieces and next has to make a move.)

F. End of the game
The game ends when one of the players cannot bring a piece into play. Thus, if a player has no pieces left in his reserve, the other player is the winner.
  • Remark 1: don't misinterpret the aim of the game; one can only win by capturing the opponent's pieces, not by returning your own pieces repeatedly from the board to the reserve!
  • Remark 2: a tie is not possible. The first player to run out of pieces loses the game, even if the other player, too, would run out of pieces in his next turn.
  • Remark 3: a player should always be able to see how many pieces the opponent has left in his reserve. Leave them clearly visible next to the board.


This version is played according to exactly the same rules as the basic version, but with the addition of GIPF-pieces. A GIPF-piece consists of 2 basic pieces stacked one on top of another. A GIPF-piece counts as "one" piece on the board. On the one hand, just as in the basic game, a player must comply with the rule to bring a piece into play each turn; on the other hand, he must also take care that his "GIPF" stays in play (i.e. at least one GIPF-piece must remain on the board).

A. Begin
Both players take 18 basic pieces. The start position remains the same but now they start with each 3 GIPF-pieces on the board. (See Diagram 1: GIPF-pieces instead of basic pieces.)

1. The difference between a basic piece and a GIPF-piece is that it is not obligatory to remove a GIPF-piece (neither your own, nor your opponent's). Put in other words: when a GIPF-piece (regardless of its color) is part of a row that must be taken from the board, then a player is free to choose between taking it or leaving it on its spot. In most cases the choice will amount to taking a GIPF-piece only when it belongs to the opponent. (But be careful: situations will certainly occur in which it may be better to deviate from this strategy.)
Diagram 8: White takes 3 white basic pieces and 1 black basic piece; most likely White will also take the black GIPF-piece, but leave the 2 white GIPF-pieces on the board.

2. When two rows of at least 4 pieces of the same color intersect each other and the spot of intersection is occupied by a GIPF-piece, then the player may choose whether he will take one or two rows from the board. Either he captures only one row, including the GIPF-piece on the intersection spot (which means there is no second row to be taken any more), or he takes one row and leaves the GIPF-piece on its spot, thus having to remove the second row as well (with or without the GIPF-piece). 3. When a player captures a GIPF-piece of his own color, it must be returned to the reserve as two separate basic pieces; they may not be brought into play again as a GIPF-piece.

C. End of a game
Now there are two ways of winning: one must succeed in removing the opponent's GIPF from the board (i.e. all of his GIPF-pieces) or one must exhaust the opponent's reserve. Put in other words: a player who has either lost his last GIPF-piece, or has no basic piece left to bring into play, loses the game.


The standard game in itself is a complex and difficult game to master; it offers so many possibilities that not everyone will be waiting for even more possibilities. Without any doubt, some will prefer the standard game (and even the basic game) above the tournament version. Therefore we advise players to look at this variant as nothing but an option; by no means is it meant as an obligatory GIPF-exercise. Concerning the rules, there are only a few changes in the beginning of the game.
  1. The game starts with an empty board (i.e. there is no starting position any more).
  2. Both players are obliged to use their first turn to bring a GIPF-piece into play. This must be done as a standard move: one places a GIPF-piece on any of the dots and next moves it onto a spot in the play area.
  3. The game is played without a fixed number of GIPF-pieces per player. The players are completely free to also use their second, third, fourth (et cetera) turn to bring more GIPF-pieces into play.
  4. Once a player has decided for himself that he has a sufficient number of GIPF-pieces in the play area, he may start playing with single pieces. But, as soon as he has brings a single piece into play, this means that he can bring no more GIPF-pieces into play during the further development of the game. The opponent may still do so, until he, too, plays his first single piece. (Also during this start-up phase, the players take turns without interruption.)
The further game is played according to exactly the same rules as the standard game, and to win a player pursues the same goals.

Remark: when playing the tournament version in may occur that 4 (or even more) GIPF-pieces of one color are lined up. In this case, the player playing with that color may leave them on their spots or he may take one or more GIPF-pieces from the board, either before or after making his move. If he should decide to leave them on the board and they are still lined up when it is his turn again, then he may again choose between these two options.

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