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To Split or Not to Split?

Splitting the game board in Logic Games refers to testing out individual possibilities to better understand what happens in each scenario, which helps you have a clearer understanding of the relationships between entities (game pieces) as you go into the questions.

 

 For example, suppose you had an entity 'F' that could go in spaces 2 or 4. You could draw out two separate gameboards for each of these scenarios and solve out the gameboard to the best of your ability.

 

To understand the benefit of this approach, it's important to understand what makes games challenging in the first place. Games are challenging because there are multiple rules and several moving parts (aka entities) that you have to think about simultaneously. Imagine if you only had one rule and only a few entities--games would actually be pretty easy in that case!

 

So, splitting the board is beneficial for two reasons: they anchor down entities, allowing you to think about less moving parts, and in the process they can fully account for certain rules on the gameboard and lessen the number of rules you need to think about. As a result, you are able to save time and improve accuracy, since you are less prone to making careless mistakes with the various rules.

 

This post is intended for you to learn how to wisely make the decision of whether you should split or not in every game, with examples included!

 

There are two criteria you must check for before deciding to split. Let's dive in...

 

Criteria #1: There should be 2 or 3 possibilities

 

For most games, I advise against splitting up by more than 3 gameboards (with the rare exception of 4). This is because the time it takes to split up by four or more gameboards generally is not worth it and results in the game taking longer than necessary. Remember, the whole purpose of splitting is to save time!

 

It can be anything with 2-3 options. Maybe entity 'G' can only go in slots 1 or 3. Maybe only 'Q' or 'S' can go in slot 1. Maybe a PR block has only two options in terms of where it could be placed.

 

But a common mistake people make is they automatically split as soon as they see something that has 2 options. Instead, it's better to mentally test it out for criteria #2:

 

The second criteria is that the individual scenarios lead to major deductions and/or have implications for other rules.

 

Yes, this requires you to mentally test out each situation. But this should only take a brief second and allows you to be certain that splitting is useful for that specific game.

 

To be clear, you do not need to solve out the entire gameboard in your head. That is not the goal here, as you will be writing it out. Instead, ask yourself if the placement of an entity leads to major restrictions or leads to a domino effect regarding the other rules. Let's take a look at a few examples!

 

 

Example 1: Sequencing (aka Ordering/Linear) Game

Splitting the game board in Logic Games refers to testing out individual possibilities to better understand what happens in each scenario, which helps you have a clearer understanding of the relationships between entities (game pieces) as you go into the questions.

 

 For example, suppose you had an entity 'F' that could go in spaces 2 or 4. You could draw out two separate gameboards for each of these scenarios and solve out the gameboard to the best of your ability.

 

To understand the benefit of this approach, it's important to understand what makes games challenging in the first place. Games are challenging because there are multiple rules and several moving parts (aka entities) that you have to think about simultaneously. Imagine if you only had one rule and only a few entities--games would actually be pretty easy in that case!

 

So, splitting the board is beneficial for two reasons: they anchor down entities, allowing you to think about less moving parts, and in the process they can fully account for certain rules on the gameboard and lessen the number of rules you need to think about. As a result, you are able to save time and improve accuracy, since you are less prone to making careless mistakes with the various rules.

 

This post is intended for you to learn how to wisely make the decision of whether you should split or not in every game, with examples included!

 

There are two criteria you must check for before deciding to split. Let's dive in...

 

Criteria #1: There should be 2 or 3 possibilities

 

For most games, I advise against splitting up by more than 3 gameboards (with the rare exception of 4). This is because the time it takes to split up by four or more gameboards generally is not worth it and results in the game taking longer than necessary. Remember, the whole purpose of splitting is to save time!

 

It can be anything with 2-3 options. Maybe entity 'G' can only go in slots 1 or 3. Maybe only 'Q' or 'S' can go in slot 1. Maybe a PR block has only two options in terms of where it could be placed.

 

But a common mistake people make is they automatically split as soon as they see something that has 2 options. Instead, it's better to mentally test it out for criteria #2:

 

Criteria #2: The individual scenarios lead to major deductions and/or have implications for other rules.

 

Yes, this requires you to mentally test out each situation. But this should only take a brief second and allows you to be certain that splitting is useful for that specific game.

 

To be clear, you do not need to solve out the entire gameboard in your head. That is not the goal here, as you will be writing it out. Instead, ask yourself if the placement of an entity leads to major restrictions or leads to a domino effect regarding the other rules. Let's take a look at a few examples!

 

 

Example 1 (Sequencing (aka Ordering/Linear) Game):



In case the diagrams don't make sense, the rules here state that...

  1. F goes in either slot 1 or 6

  2. F and K are separated by exactly one space, but we do not know the order between them

  3. K goes earlier than L, but we do not know the exact distance


Criteria 1 here is satisfied because F has only two options. This should then be a signal that we should check for the second criteria.


Notice how the placement of F has direct implications for the placement of K (for example, F going into 1 forces K in 3). As a result, each of the scenarios has implications for L as well, since it is linked to K.


Notice how we don't need to solve out the entire board in our heads. We just need to ask if the rules influence each other, and if they can be fully accounted for on the gameboard as a result. If we place F in 1 and K in 3, we are removing a rule that we need to think about mentally in the process. As a result, it is a good idea to split here.


When splitting, it is important to write out the split options first. In this case, for example, it makes sense to draw out one gameboard where F is in 1 and another where F is in 6 before even adding in more information. This will help you remember what you were splitting up by and will help you avoid careless errors. Once you have done that, add in all the remaining information before one gameboard before moving onto the next.


Here is what the final result should look like...



It is important that we do not tamper with the original gameboard through this process. These are two separate boards that are being diagrammed. Notice how as a result of these diagrams, we have set it up to where there is no need to think about any of the rules because they have been fully accounted for on the board. This is a huge advantage when it comes to games.


Let's take a look at another example.


Example 2 (Grouping Game):




The rules in this game are...

  1. M goes in group 1 or 3

  2. M and S must be in the same group

  3. P and Q cannot be in the same group


The first criteria is certainly satisfied by M. You might be thinking to yourself, "M's placement has implications for S, so we should split". And technically, there would be nothing wrong with that because in the process, we are getting rid of the MS rule. But this is where there is a bit of subjectivity. Let me explain...


Remember--the advantage of splitting comes from getting rid of rules that are too complicated to deal with mentally. For starters, it is clear to see that M and S go together. And this has no implications for the PQ rule. The two entities can move around as they please, so long as they are not in the same group.


As a result, in this case, there is not much additional benefit to splitting because drawing out the split does not help simplify the game much. This is why testing for both criteria is crucial before jumping to the conclusion that we should split.



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Sincerely,


Cho from Impetus LSAT

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