Preface to the Second Edition

It's high time that there was a second edition of Winning Ways.

Largely as a result of the first edition, and of John Conway's On Numbers and Games, which we are glad to say is also reappearing, the subject of combinatorial games has burgeoned into a vast area, bringing together artificial intelligence experts, combinatorists, and computer scientists, as well as practitioners and theoreticians of particular games such as Go, Chess, Amazons and Konane: games much more interesting to play than the simple examples that we needed to introduce our theory.

Just as tile subject of combinatorics was slow to be accepted by many "serious" mathematicians, so, even more slowly, is that of combinatorial games. But now it has achieved considerable maturity and is giving rise to an extensive literature, documented by Aviezri Fraenkel and exemplified by the book Mathematical Go: Chilling Gets the Last Point by Berlekamp and Wolfe. Games are fun to play and it's more fun the better you are at playing them.

The subject has become too big for us to do it justice even in the four-volume work that we now offer. So we've contented ourselves with a minimum of necessary changes to the original text (we are proud that our first formulations have so well withstood the test of time), with additions to the Extras at the ends of the chapters, and with the insertion of many references to guide the more serious student to further reading. And we've corrected some of the one hundred and sixty-three mistakes.

We are delighted that Alice and Klaus Peters have agreed to publish this second edition. Their great experience, and their competent and cooperative staff, notably Sarah Gillis and Kathryn Maier, have been invaluable assets during its production. And of course we are indebted to the rapidly growing band of people interested in the subject. If we mention one name we should mention a hundred; browse through the Index and the References at tile end of each chapter. As a start, try Games of No Chance, the book of the workshop that we organized a few years ago, and look out for its successor, More Games of No Chance, documenting the workshop that took place earlier this year.

Elwyn Berlekamp, University of California, Berkeley
John Conway, Princeton University
Richard Guy, The University of Calgary, Canada

November 3, 2000


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