Kris Burm is the creator of this game. It belongs to a Suite names GIPF including the following games : GIPF, TAMSK, ZERTZ, DVONN, YINSH and PUNCT.

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TAMSK is the second game of Project GIPF. It is played under permanent time pressure. Both players start the game with 3 hour-glasses and 32 rings. The hour-glasses are the playing pieces; the aim is to get rid of as many rings as possible. Each turn you must move one of your hour-glasses and turn it over; next you may play a ring in the newly covered space. The more spaces you visit, the more rings you will be able to play. But the more rings you play, the more difficult it will become to move your hour-glasses. Watch your hour-glasses closely; each one that runs out of time is lost! TAMSK introduces time as a substantial strategic element. If you are prepared to think fast and to play quickly without losing your cool, then you have the right attitude. Enjoy the pressure!

A territorial game with time as a special feature! The second game of Project GIPF. For 2 players.

  • 1 game board
  • 3 red and 3 black hour-glasses (3 min.)
  • 1 neutral hour-glass (15-second timer)
  • 64 ivory rings
  • 2 ring holders, each to hold 32 rings
  1. Starting position: see diagram below. Place the red and black hour-glasses on the 6 corner spaces of the board, so that the hour-glasses of both players alternate: black, red, black, red, black, red. The upper parts must be empty before starting a game.
  2. Take a ring holder and fill it with 32 rings.
You and your opponent start the game with 32 rings each. The player with the fewest rings left at the end of the game is the winner. (This counts for all 3 levels.)

The game
TAMSK is not difficult to learn, but because you'll have to play under constant time pressure, we advise you to get used to the rules in three stages.

Level 1: without time pressure
Rules to learn the strategy of moving the hour-glasses without turning them over. Use them as normal pieces, not as hour-glasses.
  1. Start: Draw lots to determine who will play with the red hour-glasses. Red begins, then take turns moving your hour-glasses.
  2. A move: Each turn you must move one of your hour-glasses. You may move it to any adjacent vacant space.
  3. Dropping a ring: After moving an hour-glass, you may play one ring: take a ring from your ringholder, put it over the hour-glass you moved and then drop it. (For the remainder of the game, the ring you dropped will serve as an indication that the space has been visited earlier on.) Note: playing a ring is optional, but since getting rid of rings is the aim of the game, you should do it (or rather: don't forget to do it). If, for any particular reason, you decide not to play a ring and your opponent notices it, then he may play one of his rings where you didn't, and he may still make his regular move.
  4. The different spaces: The spaces (tubes) on the board have different heights. Once the rings around a space are level with the height of the tube, that space may not be visited again for the remainder of the game.
    · 18 spaces around the edge of the board may only have 1 ring.
    · The next tier of 12 spaces may have a maximum of 2 rings.
    · The inner tier of 6 spaces may have a maximum of 3 rings.
    · The central space may have 4 rings. Note : you may never move an hour-glass to a space which already has its maximum number of rings. If you do, you lose the game at once. So, watch the rings on the board carefully.
  5. Passing your turn: When you cannot move any of your hour-glasses (because all three are blocked by your opponent's hour-glasses and/or spaces you may not move to any more), you must pass your turn. You must continue to pass until you are able to move again - or until the game ends.
  6. The end: The game ends when no more moves can be made. The player with the fewest rings left wins the game. Most of the time this means that the first player who has to pass because he cannot move his hour-glasses any more, will lose. So, the aim is to get rid of rings, but it could also be said that the aim is to be the first to block all three of the opponent's hour-glasses.
  7. A tie: If both players have an equal number of rings left, the game ends in a tie.

Level 2 : with time pressure
The second level is played as described under Level 1, but with additional rules for the hour-glasses. The 15-second hour-glass is still left out of the game. The aim of this version is to get used to the time pressure caused by the pieces (i.e. the hour-glasses) and to see how it will influence your strategy.
Note: Level 1 is a game on itself, and so is level 3. Level 2 is an intermediate level; just play it a few times as an introduction to level 3.
  1. Start: The starting position remains the same.
  2. The first 3 turns: You and your opponent are obliged to use your first 3 turns to move each of your 3 hour-glasses. When moving an hour-glass, it must be turned over. Thus, after you and your opponent have made 3 moves each, the time of all 6 hour-glasses on the board will be running.
  3. A move: You must try to keep your hour-glasses alive. Each time you move an hour-glass to a vacant adjacent space (in fact, while you are moving it), it must be turned over. In other words: each turn you must reverse the time of one of your hour-glasses. A move must be made with a fluid motion; you may not keep an hour-glass in a horizontal position. You must let go of the hour-glass as soon as it is moved, i.e. you may not prevent your opponent from starting his move by holding onto your moved hour-glass. (See point 5 below: Timing of a move.)
  4. Dropping a ring: After moving an hour-glass, your turn is over, although you may still play a ring. But you must do it immediately and without hesitation after making your move. If you don't, you lose the opportunity to play a ring that turn. As described under Level 1, your opponent may put a ring where you didn't, before making his move.
  5. Timing of a move: Immediately after you have moved one of your hour-glasses, your opponent may start his move. In other words, he does not need to wait until you have dropped your ring. But as soon as he moves an hour-glass, he may not play an extra ring if you didn't play one.
  6. Losing an hour-glass: When an hour-glass runs out of time, it is lost. A lost hour-glass remains on the board but may not be moved any more. Note: you may lose an hour-glass on purpose!
  7. 15-second rule: Even though you don't use the 15-second hour-glass, its principle is introduced as a "gentlemen's agreement": the players have a maximum of 15 seconds to make their move. (Since it is a "gentlemen's agreement" only, there is no penalty when a player takes a bit more time than is strictly allowed. Just play quickly.)
  8. The end: The aim remains the same: getting rid of as many rings as possible.
  9. No more tie: Unlike level 1, this level cannot end in a tie. If both players have an equal number of rings left, then time will determine the winner:
  • Remove the hour-glasses that have already run out of time from the board and put them aside.
  • Watch the remaining hour-glasses closely. Each hour-glass that runs out of time is to be taken from the board, and lined up in the order removed.
  • The player with the last "living" hour-glass on the board wins the game.
  • In the rare case that the last hour-glass of both players run out of time at exactly the same time, then the player who had the last-but-one hour-glass on the board wins.

Level 3 : with the 15-second timer
The complete game, played under constant time pressure caused by the hour-glasses and the 15-second timer. It is played as described under Levels 1 and 2, but with additional rules for the use of the 15-second hour-glass.
  1. Start: Red begins; black may decide whether the 15 second timer is to be placed to the left or right of the board.
  2. The 15-second rule: The 15-second hour-glass is available to you during your opponent's turn, but you are not obliged to use it. You may use it (i.e. turn it over) if you want to force your opponent to make his move within 15 seconds. Of course, your opponent may use it too when it is your turn.
  3. The use: To use the 15-second timer, simply turn it over, but you may only do so when the upper part is empty. So, on occasions you may have to wait until it runs out of time before you can use it against your opponent. Note: when you have used the 15-second timer against your opponent, it is your turn again as soon as he made his move; you do not have to wait until the 15-second timer is empty.
  4. Private: If you start your move but don't finish it in the allowed amount of time (i.e. when you don’t let go of the hour-glass you moved before the 15-second timer runs out of time), you may complete the move, including dropping a ring, but you’ll have to face a penalty. Your opponent may now drop two rings with his next turn. He starts his turn with his regular (i.e. he moves an hour-glass and puts a ring in the newly covered space), and next he may drop a second rings in any space on the board, no matter whether the space is occupied by an hour-glass (of either color) or not. Of course, it is only possible to drop a ring in a space that has not yet its maximum number of rings. Note: this is an adjusted rule. The original rules said that you had the right to play twice when your opponent didn’t finish his turn in time, but this could cause confusion in the ending stage of the game. That is fixed with this new rule.
  5. Timing: You may start your move as soon as your opponent releases the hour-glass he moved, or, if he hasn't finished his move yet, the moment the 15-second timer runs out of time (i.e. in this case you must not wait until your opponent releases the hour-glass).
  6.  Passing a turn:  If you have not started to move an hour-glass when the 15-second timer runs out of time, you forfeit that turn. In other words: unlike in Level 1, you may now pass your turn, but the consequence is the same as when you have not finished your turn in time, as explained in point 4. above. Note: when you cannot make a move, this does not count as passing a turn. So, in this case the opponent may not drop 2 rings.
  7.  The end: The game ends as described under level 1 and 2.

It is also possible to start a game of TAMSK with the hour-glasses of the board. If you want to make use of that possibility, then use your first 3 moves to place your hour-glasses in spaces at choice with the time running, and you may immediately start dropping rings.
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