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On Trax
The New Zealand Trax Association Newsletter. Issue: 8

New Trax Notation

Earlier this year, a new Trax notation was introduced by the International Trax Association (see the sidebar to the right). Over the last two years, there has been vigorous debate over the merits of various proposed methods or of staying with the status quo.

While the previous notation was able to unambiguously specify moves that were played, it was perceived confusing by many because of the apparent double use of the label 'A' for the left column and the label '1' for the top row. A second reason for the change is the frequent confusion between left and right by those recording (or replaying) the games.

The first issue was resolved by labeling the spaces before the move is played. This results in the use of 0 for the topmost empty row, and an alphabet zero for the leftmost empty column. Unfortunately, the alphabet doesn't have a zero, so '@' was adopted. (It may be thought of as a zero with a small 'a' inside to indicate alphabet).

The second issue is resolved by indicating the orientation of the paths on the tile, rather than specifying the direction that the paths have been turned. This has the advantage of being completely unambiguous in written form. It is not without its limitations, however, as '/' and '\' can be difficult to distinguish verbally.

The new notation is not incompatible with the old in the sense that it does not need to be indicated which is being used. This will allow the new notation to be phased in gradually, and give existing players time to switch over.
  1. For notation purposes, the orientation of the playing area is determined by the orientation of the first tile played in the game:
    First tile
  2. Three symbols are used to record the location and oreintation of the first tile, only the first tile, played in each turn: <column><row><orientation>.
  3. First symbol, <column>: The occupied columns, counting from left to right, are lettered consecutively A to Z, AA to AZ, BA etc. The column to the left of A is represented as "-" or "@". (Note: to be compliant, software only needs to implement one of "-" or "@").
  4. Second symbol, <row>: The occupied rows, counting from top to bottom, are numbered consecutively starting at 1. The empty row above 1 is numbered 0.
  5. Third symbol, <orientation>: The tile that is played. Use "+" for a straight tile, and either "/" or "\" for curves according to the orientation of the curved paths on the tile.
    Tile codes
  6. The first move of the game is either @0/ or @0+ (or -0/ or -0+).
    Moves are numbered consecutively, with White playing the odd numbered moves, and Black playing the even numbered moves.
TRAX is the common law mark of David Smith and is used to identify his tile game and equipment. Rules of TRAX copyright 1981, 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1998 David Smith, Christchurch, NZ.
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