Phutball  (short for Philosopher's Futball) is a two-player abstract board game played on a 19x15 grid that was invented by John Horton Conway. 


Phutball is played on a board with 15x21 intersections using one white stone representing a ball and as many black stones as needed representing men (or players).  The 19th row is the goal line of the Blue player and the 1st row is the goal line of the Red player.  There are two additional rows numbered 0 and 20 representing "off the board" beyond the 1st and 19th rows respectively.  The ball is initially placed it the middle of the board:

Object of the Game

The goal of Phutball is move the ball  (the white stone) onto or beyond the opponent's goal line.

I.e. the Red player wins if the ball is placed on the 19th or the 20th row and the Blue player wins if the ball is placed on the 1st or the 0th row after a move.


The game begins with the ball  (the white stone) placed in the middle of the board.

Players move alternately doing one of the following:

  • adding a man (a black stone) to any unoccupied intersection besides the "off the board" rows.  The turn is passed to the opponent immediately after placing a black stone.
  • moving the ball (the white stone).  The ball is moved by a series of jumps over adjacent men.  Each jump can be made in a straight horizontal, vertical or diagonal line.  After each jump the ball lands on the first unoccupied intersection after the last man in the line. The jumped men are immediately removed from the board (before any subsequent jumps occur).  A player can continue jumping as long as there remain men available to be jumped and the player desires.  Jumping is optional.  There is no requirement to jump.  Below is an example of a move:
Before the jump   After the jump

If the ball ends up on or beyond the opponent's goal line then the game ends and the player wins.

If the ball passes through a goal line, but ends up elsewhere due to further jumps, the game continues:

Before the jump  

After the move

(Red doesn't win)

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