Red your move

The game is called Grod and
consists of a grid and some rods.
The grid is a block of size 4x4x1.
Holes are drilled in all directions.
Into the holes you insert rods
of length one, two or three.
Players take turns
putting rods
in the block.
To play again
tap game below.
To win you should
not put the last rod in.

Choose your color
Do you want to start
Choose your opponent
Machine skill (0-16)
Beginner Expert


The origin of the game is hidden in a distant past. It existed in ancient Greece and it was very popular in Athens. Chess on the other hand was more popular in Sparta. The reason for the Spartan interest in chess was probably its use when training strategic thinking for their constant war games. They had actually exchanged the queen for yet another king, since it was unthinkable in the patriarchal Spartan society to have a queen with more power than the king. The women of Lesbos of course played the game with two queens.

The tradition of chess in Greece was lost after the battle of Corinth in 146 BC. The Archean general Diaeus challenged the Roman consul Mummius. The consul had never seen a chessboard but managed to win. The Greek people did not want to be reminded of their defeat to the Romans and decided to destroy everything that reminded them of chess. It would take 750 years before chess appeared again. Local people in central Asia exposed the remains from troops of Alexander the Great when they were digging a new water well. Some of the objects found where sent to India to be examined by learned men who reinvented chess from the artifacts.

Many philosophers of ancient Greece discussed and wrote about the game that we now call Grod. They covered subjects such as openings, endgames and its relation to mathematics. According to Kallimachos the game had its own department at the library in Alexandria. Despite the large amount of literature on the game none of these works have been found. All that has been found are indirect references, the most interesting is probably a note in a margin where Pythagoras claims to have found a very short proof, stating that the person making the first move is doomed to loose. This is remarkable since even to this day there is no proof for this that isn't based on an examination of all possible situations in the game. That Pythagoras really had a proof is indicated by the magic significance he gave to the numbers 1170, 2053 and 2602.

It is known that both Plato and Aristotle played the game. A famous palimpsest was sold for 2.000.000$ on 29th of October in 1998 by Christie’s in New York. The palimpsest was found in Bobbio a monastery in northern Italy. The document’s original greek text had been removed and replaced by religious content some time in the 8th century. The original contained a game of grod between Plato and Aristotle. A comment in the margin about Platos mother and a mountain goat reveals who won the game. Even classical antiquity had its bad loosers.

Knowledge of the deeper meaning of the game and insights on how to play to win were the criteria used to qualify for member- ship in a group called The Wise Men. The group never became larger than seven and it came to be known as The Seven Wise Men. After the decline of Greece the criteria were forgotten as well as the game itself. It was never adopted by the Romans.

Finding the answers to the mysteries of life and the universe in a simple game can be hard to understand for modern man. Maybe it was the discovery that the outcome of the game is given if both participants play optimally. On a deeper level it might be the insight that there is no shortcut or easy strategies to win. There is no pattern or rule that that separates good positions from bad ones and yet all is preordained. Belief in faith was common in ancient greece. No theories can explain the patterns of win and loose. The simple rules of the game and their consequences is all there is.

Next time the game surfaces is during the plundering of Montezumas I’stomb in Tenochtitlán. The Conquistadors led by Hernan Cortez discovered a pierced block made of solid gold. The block's function was never understood and it was melted with the rest of the gold. We know this today because the soldier who discovered the block Juan Rodriguez, was so intrigued by it that he made notes on its form and size. The block departed from all the other loot, both in form and function. Juan was the only person to be spared the very painful stomack disease that eventually killed all other conquistadors that had touched the block. The stomack pain became known as Montezumas revenge. The notes were passed on from generation to generation in the Rodriguez family before they were made public. Even more remarkable is the fact that the dimensions of the Aztec block exactly matches the dimensions used in ancient Greece.

The game remained unknown until Leonhard Euler reinvented the game. It is believed that knowledge of the game could have survived from classical antiquity in certain very secret orders, possibly among the Rosenkreutz and probably in another even more secret order. The name of this group is not known to this day and its existence is still disputed. Theory has it that the society can trace its roots to the nubians, a people that lived by the water of the Nile. The nubians played the game by drawing with sticks in the sand. An archeological expedition to the village of Ez in 1973 found petrified clay that shows the game in a frozen moment with several free positions remaining. Nearby petrified footsteps indicates that the game had been abruptly interrupted by an approaching crocodile. The incident took place 15 000 years b.c.

The secret society can be traced in the Egyptian kingdom before it reaches Mesopotamia, the Sumerian civilization and later the Babylonians. Its presence can be seen in western Anatolia where it probably recruits its members among the Pre-Socratic philosophers. Whether the society has followed the path of historical development and taken root in one civilisation after the other or if the society's capacity to influence has been so strong that it controlled the development are matters on which we can only speculate.

The dead see scrolls contains a fragment previously believed to be without content. A new technolgical breakthrogh has made it possible to aqnalyse the fragment more carefully. From the fragment emerges a grid and a number of rods. Above the grid are the hebrew letters drg. A group involved in research on the dead see scrolls claims that it is the game and that grd is the name of the game. There is an internal dispute on how to pronounce the game since the vowels are omitted in hebrew. They have agreed to use the term grod to outsiders. The fragment is very controversial, it’s known as the grod fragment.
The secret order is led by a person called the Head. Only the sharpest and wisest brains can be selected for membership. Nothing indicates that the purpose of the group should be anything but good. Its probable cause is to further the development of the human species. Some say that Leonhard Euler was a member and that by revealing the game he was excluded. It is believed that both Newton and Galilei were Heads. Whether the society exists today is not known, apart from members if any. Some think that John von Neumann and Friedrich von Hayek were heads. One story tells that John von Neumann was inspired to his gametheory during a game of grod.

Neumann was probably the best player of all times if you exclude the best of the Yanco tribe. The Yanco tribe was discovered to the rest of the world by anthropologist Franz Boas. The tribe lives in a remote area of the Amazonas. The Yanco people have a game that is very similar to the classical but their game has a grid that is 6x6, 7x7 or even up to 10x10. The Yancos unsurpassed skill is based solely on intuition. Their counting ability is very low, the number three in Yanco language is called poettarraroincoaroac. Reseachers who have visited the Yanco say that the number four is met by expres-sions of total confusion. It is believed that a genetic disorder can explain their supernatural skills. These genes have not been found in any other people and they may be the cause of their savant-like syndrom. The Yanco appears to have direct acces to all raw sensory data that enters their brain and a perfect memory but they lack the power to form abstract concepts.

They call the game Maua-maui, the dreamgame. It is played by many participant at the same time and they take their turn making moves. Only the elders of the tribe are allowed to play. To the other members it is taboo. The game is only used under religious ceremonies and the playing is preceded by complicated rituals to appease their god who they call grd.

All these stories about the game and the society could be pure imagination. It might be yet another trivial game and maybe not …