# Sparks Rules

• designed by Dieter Stein
• 2 players

### Objective

Place your ball on top of the fire.

### Start

The board (a “fireplace”) starts filled with white and black balls in an alternating pattern. The red balls (called “sparks”) are kept ready to hand.

### Play

Two players, White and Black, are taking turns by putting a spark from the supply and a ball of their own colour from the board (the coal ball) into the hand.

Coal can only be taken if it isn’t pinned. (It is free, or it supports at most one ball on the level above.)

If the coal ball was free, the player fills the emptied space with the spark and plays the coal on any other place.

If the coal ball was not free, a supported ball will just drop into place:

• If a spark dropped, the player returns the spark in the hand to the supply and plays only the coal ball on any place.
• If a white or black coal ball dropped, the player plays both balls in the hand on any place and in any desired order.

In this example, white takes spark x from the supply, removes coal a, puts x there, and plays a.

The next player, Black, takes another spark y, removes coal b which makes coal a drop. Black has two balls now (b and y) and plays them.

### End

The player who places a coal on top of the pyramid (the fire cone) wins the game. If all of a player’s coals are pinned at the start of their turn, they lose.

### Strategy

There are at least 14 moves. With each turn the pyramid normally grows by one ball. Only if a spark is dropped, the number of balls is not increased. No dropping sparks would be a win for Black. Yet there will be spark drops in every game and players sometimes can force or avoid them. So controlling the occurrence of spark drops is essential: White wins by an odd, Black by an even number of spark drops.

Another way to look at it: you win if the number of sparks is 14 after your turn. Since the number of sparks usually increases after both your turn and your opponent’s turn, you want the number of sparks to be even after your turn. Therefore, you want the number of sparks to be odd at the start of your turn. If it’s not, try to drop a spark. Either way, try to set up sparks that only you can drop, and don’t run out of coals that you can drop.