The OxNomicker

Issue 7, 14 March 1998



So, this is what the second OxNomicker of Game 5 looks like. The last week has been a busy one for Judgements, and we have had our usual quota of Proposals, both mundane and extraordinary. What's the latest in the Cozens-Aickin feud? Read on to find out.

Before we start our ride through the last two weeks, it is worth taking a look at the `League of Nomic'. This was devised by Colin Batchelor and has so far been posted twice. The latter one was calculated on March 4th and is reproduced below. The results are interesting, considering that the top two players have shared the Speakership for the best part of OxNomic's year-and-a-half existence (and remember that the Speaker is usually only allowed to make one in every twenty-five Proposals).

                        P       S       F       +/-     W
1   Owen Massey         28      20      7       13      1
2   Ian Collier         19      15      2       13      2
3   Terry Boon          12      12      0       12      0
4   Gordon Aickin       27      18      9       9       0
5   *Mark Rigby-Jones   11      10      1       9       0
6   Ian Snell           23      14      8       6       1
7   Helen Broadie       7       6       1       5       0
8=  *Daniel Bor         12      8       4       4       0
8=  *Matthew Barratt    12      8       4       4       0
10  *Nick Fortescue     4       3       0       3       1
11= *Juliette White     1       1       0       1       0
11= *Stephen Gower      1       1       0       1       0
13  Colin Batchelor     16      7       7       0       2
14  *Borislav Deianov   2       1       1       0       0
15  Simon Cozens        7       3       4       -1      0
16= *Richard Harrison   1       0       1       -1      0
16= *David Wallace      1       0       1       -1      0
16= *David Woolger      1       0       1       -1      0
19  +Death              1       0       1       -1      0
20  *Stuart Adamson     9       3       5       -2      1
21  *Andrew Dagnall     4       1       3       -2      0
22  *Chris Dickson      22      8       14      -6      0

* indicates someone who has left the game.
+ indicates a Puppet.

Correct up to 1828, 4.iii.98


The first thing to have happened this month was that Death's first Proposal P85 failed one vote to six, and the second thing (aside from Ian Snell's Referendum) was the proposal of Death's second Proposal, P92, to repeal Rule 201 which is the definition of a Quorum. This failed four votes to six; perhaps players are beginning to be more confident in voting for the points.

After the various Judgements discussed in the last newsletter regarding Puppets and their rights, Helen Broadie submitted FT7 giving a Puppet the right to do anything a human Player can do, even if its Instructions mean that it will never avail itself of such rights. This failed with three votes for and three against; it did not seem to add anything which the Rules do not already imply.

The outstanding results of Proposals mentioned in the last newsletter were announced on March 4th. Colin Batchelor's proposal P86, extending the Rule Clerk's duties to include the history of each Rule, passed seven votes to three and led to agonising over the exact interpretations of various changes the details of which had been lost in the mists of time. The Speaker generously rewarded the Rule Clerk by donating 50 CV Points. P87 also passed, with seven votes for and four against, and tidied up the rules relating to Judgement. Unfortunately it contained two successive amendments to a Rule called 398(2) and so the second amendment had to be ignored as it no longer referred to an existing rule. This left Rule 398 rather less tidy than was intended. P88, Colin's third successive successful Proposal, passed nine votes to two and allowed the Speaker to table Motions of No Confidence where this is part of his or her duties. P89, the amendment to Rule 313 allowing the Speaker to be more lenient about concurrent amendments, passed seven votes to four.

Colin Batchelor (he again) proposed the introduction of Mines. It would be possible for a fee of five points to Mine a rule, which would result in a loss of five points for the first person to propose an amendment to that rule. However, this Proposal, P93, failed five votes to six.

The result of the previously proposed P90 to change the voting period was announced at this point. It only attracted three votes in favour, with seven against. P91, which reduced the penalty for Puppets failing to vote, passed with eight votes for and three against.

Stephen Gower, an ex-player of the game who had been lurking in the newsgroup for some time, rejoined the game on March 7th, claiming that the stylish play of Death had enticed him into the game. Not wanting to start an argument, the Banker complied with the rules and granted Death a bonus of 20 CV Points.

Stephen's ill-fated first Proposal was P94, a complicated rule involving a secret number called theta. The intriguing idea was that there was an alternative way of winning the game by having a score exactly equal to theta, and since theta is unknown this adds a surprise factor to the game. To add to the unpredictability, Stephen proposed that players should be able to alter theta by applying a mathematical formula to it. Unfortunately it became apparent that there was no way to ensure that theta remained unknown, making it trivial to win the game, and despite two amendments attempting to fix the problems P94 eventually had to be withdrawn.

Ian Snell had a devious plan to demonstrate a flaw in the rules and fix it at the same time. P95 was the result. It contains no fewer than seven successive amendments to Rule 313 but if passed will outlaw Proposals which contain more than one amendment to any single rule. It also means that the Version Number mentioned in an amendment is ignored in case the Proposer got it wrong.

P96 was Death's third attempt to sabotage the rules. This time the target is Rule 450, which defines the Reference Number of a Proposal. With this Proposal the Speaker also distributed Proposals FT8 and P97 which are discussed further in the Judgements section.

P98 was a Proposal from Colin Batchelor to formalise the awarding of Black Marks. A Black Mark may be awarded to any Player who breaks the Rules of OxNomic. P98 also proposes a procedure known as an Accusation for determining whether or not a player has broken one or more Rules. The possession of four Black Marks by an Officer will cause a Motion of No Confidence to be tabled against that Officer. Colin also proposed P99 to implement a numbering scheme for Judgements and make sure that Appeals on Judgements are explicitly mentioned in the Recorder's duties.

Flushed with his success on P94, Stephen Gower proposed an anti-grammar rule. P100 suggests that the meanings of the words `its' and `it's' be exchanged within OxNomic. It remains to be seen how this will fare, and the Speaker will be in Suspended Animation when the voting period for this Proposal ends so news on this and the previous few Proposals may not be forthcoming until after Easter.


Ian Snell called the Referendum R6:
Given that 11 of the 15 players of .Nomic have overtly Cantabrigian email
addresses, as recorded on the webpage
<http://www.interalpha.net/customer/jefferis/nomic/players.htm> at 04:45
(GMT) on 2nd March, 1998, I call for a Referendum to decide whether this
constitutes a game of nomic starting in Cambridge, as mentioned under rule

Although this nomic did not start overtly in Cambridge, but merely on the
newsgroup alt.games.nomic, I consider "starting" in this case to mean
that point when the majority of Players were Cantabrigians, which is a
point in the recent past, the exact timing of which I am uncertain due to
propagation problems of alt.games.nomic.

A vote in favour of this Referendum shall be construed to be in agreement
with the proposition that .Nomic has become a Cantabrigian game under the
limits of 320(0).  As the single OxNomic player in .Nomic, if this
Referendum passes I (Ian Snell) shall be appointed temporary Diplomat to
..Nomic to explain the situation to them if that is found to be the means
and ways, or to co-ordinate any warfare.
This Referendum failed, having received only four votes with two of them being against.


The first of the two weeks since the last newsletter passed without incident, but on March 7th Ian Snell submitted the first of ten calls for Judgement which have since taken place. He noticed that Rule 315, which describes the giving away of points after the success or failure of a `proposed rule', was rather vague and has possibly been mis-applied to all Proposals - even repeals of rules. This Judgement has now been numbered J(22) by the Recorder.
  I call for Judgement on the following two statements:

     * 315(0) applies only to enactments of new rules.
     * 315(0) applies to all Proposals.


  The condition for 315(0)'s application is the adoption or rejection of
  "a proposed rule".  This could be interpreted as either of the above
  very easily, or even various other ways.  Personally, I consider it to
  apply only to enactments, as only these fulfill the exact statement, but
  in the current situation of the game, it could be more broadly
  interpreted. Either way, I suggest a Fast-Track Proposal from the Judge
  to clarify matters, and preferably to bring 315 in line with current
  game custom, which is to interpret it broadly.  I also suggest that no
  score changes be made if the Judgement deems that any such score changes
  should not have been made.
The Recorder, failing to remember that Puppets are no longer allowed to be selected as Judges, selected Robin Hood. This was quickly rectified, however, with the selection of Simon Cozens, who wrote:
   I agree with Ian that 315(0) applies only to enactments of new rules.
   However, any proposals that are accepted into the ruleset (that is, that
   win a vote) are enactments of new rules - EVEN IF they instantly
   explicitly repeal themselves, they must have been a rule at some point
   (otherwise they could not be repealed) and therefore 'a proposed rule is
   accepted.' I would also include amendments that work upon the ruleset in
   this category, even though it could be argued that they are not strictly
Ian Collier commented:
So what was the actual answer of the CfJ?

The above sounds like odd logic.  A proposal which is a repeal never exists
as a rule at any time, so by the above 315 should not apply to it.  Are we
then to discover and reverse all of the score changes which resulted from
315 being "incorrectly" applied to appeals?
The speaker concluded:
  The result of J(16) means that the rules have been violated by requiring
  players to award or deduct 5 points after Proposals which are repeals.

I believe it to be true and  pretend it never happened.
Simon submitted a Fast-Track Proposal to attempt to clarify the situation, but more controversy was to come. Observe the sting in the tail...
FT8 Amend 315(0) replacing 'proposed rule' with 'proposal' and 'the person
who proposed the rule' with 'proponent'. Remove twenty points from Gordon
Aickin's score.
Due to its controversial nature, this proposal failed with the only four votes being negative ones. However, it was the subject of two calls for Judgement, to which we will return shortly.

Meanwhile, Colin Batchelor submitted J(23) to clarify the time period allowed for Judges.

  * The "four days" in 328(2) means 96 hours from the publicizing of the
    identity of the Judge.
  * The "four days" in 328(2) means till midnight on the fourth calendar
    day after the day before the publicizing of the identity of the Judge.


  When I became Recorder, (wee) Helen got a bit confused about whom to
  send her Judgement to, and she sent it to the Speaker within 96 hours,
  and I only got hold of it by midnight, which I thought was fair enough.
  207(1) usefully paradigmatic but not binding here.
The Judge, Stephen Gower, considered a couple of lateral interpretations:
   * The "four days" in 328(2) means Christmas Day, the Recorder's
     Birthday, the last Sunday in Advent and the Summer Solstice.
   * The "four days" in 328(2) means 100 hours (4 Mars days) from the
     publicizing of the identity of the Judge.
before settling on a reasonable compromise:
   * The "four days" in 328(2) means till the fourth dusk to fall on
     Oxford after the publicizing of the identity of the judge.

For some reason, after the enshrinement of Black Marks in the same rule which introduced the office of Recorder, Colin Batchelor called for Judgement to ascertain their status.

  * Black marks exist, and the two awarded to himself by Colin Batchelor
    for falsely accusing Gordon Aickin of malpractice with CV points and
    accidentally selecting Robin Hood as a judge stand.

  * Black marks do not exist, and the two awarded to himself by Colin
    Batchelor for falsely accusing Gordon Aickin of malpractice with CV
    points and accidentally selecting Robin Hood as a judge do not stand.

  * Black marks do not exist, but if and when they come into existence,
    two awarded to himself by Colin Batchelor for falsely accusing Gordon
    Aickin of malpractice with CV points and accidentally selecting Robin
    Hood as a judge will stand.

  * Black marks exist, and the two awarded to himself by Colin Batchelor
    for falsely accusing Gordon Aickin of malpractice with CV points and
    accidentally selecting Robin Hood as a judge do not stand.
The first of the two incidents referred to occurred towards the beginning of the current game when Colin impuned the integrity of Gordon Aickin, the previous Banker, for allegedly awarding himself an extra CV Point. When it was pointed out that this was the legal reward for being the Leader of the Game, Colin apologised and awarded himself a Black Mark. The second Black Mark had not been announced but had apparently been awarded for the incident described above with regard to J(22).

The Judge selected was Ian Collier, who replied in due course:

Looking through the Ruleset, I find that the only mention of Black Marks
is in Rule 469(1), in which it states that

   The Recorder ... shall record Black Marks against players' names.

This seems to settle the first part of the question, namely that Black Marks
exist.  [Although "Black marks" may or may not exist, it seems sensible to
apply a case-insensitive match in this, er, case.]

Interpreting the rule literally and pedantically, I find that the Recorder
has so far not obeyed the law because he has not recorded any Black Marks
against anyone's name.  The rule seems to dictate that the Recorder should
record at least two players' names, each with at least one Black Mark
against it (or, indeed, at least two Black Marks positioned in such a
way that they could be said to be against at least two of the names).
Whether the Recorder records anyone else's name and/or records Black
Marks against them is entirely up to him until the Rules are amended to
specify otherwise.

It seems convenient, though not necessarily necessary, that one of the
names recorded should be that of Colin Batchelor, given that he is the
only player to have been awarded a Black Mark (whether legal or not).
Therefore the result of the judgement will be:

>  * Black marks exist, and the two awarded to himself by Colin Batchelor
>    for falsely accusing Gordon Aickin of malpractice with CV points and
>    accidentally selecting Robin Hood as a judge stand.

It is not within the scope of this Judgement to specify whether the
Recorder should comply with the Rules by recording anyone else's name.
So far the Recorder has not announced his intention to record the second player's name, but Proposals have been submitted which make the process of awarding Black Marks clearer.

And so we come to one of the oddest incidents so far recorded in the Judgements section of the OxNomicker. There is no Rule which regulates the content of a Judgement; in particular, nothing stops Judgements from being called on similar or identical topics by several people. Colin Batchelor went one better by submitting three identical calls, numbered J(25), J(26) and J(27).

* P97 is a legal rule change by 105(0).
* P97 is an illegal rule change by 105(0).
The original version of P97 submitted, unsurprisingly, by Simon `Controversial' Cozens, read:
P97 Add twenty points to the score of everyone who votes in favour of
this Proposal. Go to war against .nomic.
Colin did not supply reasoning for his Judgements, but Ian Collier commented:
Judgement has already been called three times on this, but I will comment
anyway.  Traditionally, a Proposal just containing some random text has
been assumed to contain the implicit introduction "Enact the following
new rule:".  This is the only valid interpretation which makes the above a
valid Proposal, and so we probably ought to consider it valid under this
assumption.  However, the sole result of passing such a Proposal will be to
add a rule to the ruleset which makes about as much sense as 384 and 461 and
will therefore have no effect on play.  I suggest that Simon reword this
into a more conventional rule.
(Readers may recall that 384 and 461 are the famous With and Without Dusty Bin rules.)

As a result of this comment, Simon pre-empted the Judgements by amending the proposal to the following.

        Enact and immediately repeal the following new rule:
        * Twenty points are added to those who voted for this rule.
        * This nomic declares war on .nomic
Two of the Judges selected have returned Judgement on this final form of the Proposal (the third, Terry Boon, has not delivered Judgement at the time of writing, although Judgement is due later today). Tim Ricketts wrote:
* P97 is a proposal for two legal rule changes by 105(0).

P97 itself is not a rule change but a proposal.  It proposes
i.  The enactment of a new rule; and
ii. The repeal of a rule.

Each of these would be a legal rule change by 105(0).
and Stephen Gower agreed:
  My judgement is to choose and state the following alternative:

  *P97 is two rule changes according to 105(0)

For J(28) we return to the Fast-Track Proposal FT8 mentioned above. Ian Collier wrote:

  * FT8 is a valid Fast-Track proposal.
  * FT8 is not a valid Fast-Track proposal.

  A Proposal is an ordered finite non-empty list whose elements are all
  rule changes or Motions.  FT8 (unless it has been posted in a
  nonstandard format) is a list of one element, that element being the
  combination of a rule change and a score change.
The Judge selected was Terry Boon, who at the time of writing has not yet delivered a Judgement. However, on the same subject, J(29) was submitted by Gordon Aickin.
  * FT8 should not have been accepted by the Speaker as a special
    proposal, without risk to the proposer, under 402.

  * FT8 should not have been accepted by the Speaker as a fast track
    proposal by the Speaker.

  * FT8 was correctly accepted as a fast track proposal by the Speaker.

  Clearly FT8 is trying to do more than just "clarifying ths
  situation." It has a clause, wich has nothing to do which Simon judged.
  402 says that the Speaker may reject such proposals, I suggest that he
  should have done.

  Further I believe that this proposal should not be legal under 402 at
  all, and that this kind of combined proposal should not be allowed to be
  made without risk. My reasoning for this is under rule 401 "A Judgement
  may also be called for in the case where a player feels a rule is in
  contrast to the intention of the proposer."

  Since I originally proposed 402 I feel that I should know that I
  intended these proposals, without risk, to fix the problem the Judgement
  was about and nothing else, if this is not what it says, then it is in
  contrast to my intentions, and should be changed.
Ian Collier was again the Judge, and replied:
   * If FT8 is a Proposal then the Speaker was entitled to accept it as
     a Fast-Track Proposal.

   I phrase it in this odd way because to do otherwise would be to
   pre-judge J28.  Of course, if FT8 is not a Proposal then trivially it
   is not a Fast-Track Proposal and should not have been accepted by the

   Rule 401(5) tells us that:

      A Judgement may also be called for in the case where a player feels
      a rule is in contrast to the intention of the proposer.  If the Judge
      feels the rule should be corrected, a Fast-Track proposal should be
      used, if they exist.

   This is clearly what happened in this case.  There does not seem to be
   a restriction on the Fast-Track proposal which is made under this rule,
   though it could be argued that the Fast-Track proposal should be one
   which corrects the rule as dictated by what the player feels was the
   intention of the proposer.  FT8 does this (as well as also carrying out
   an unrelated change).

   Rule 402 does not come into play here.  Even if it did, the reasoning
   would be much the same - and although "the Speaker may refuse to accept
   [the proposal] as Fast-Track if it involves more than just clarifying
   the situation", the Speaker is not forbidden from accepting it in such
   a case.
Owen Massey is the player who was responsible for J(30), which read as follows.
  * The statement chosen in a Judgement is binding on past play.
  * The statement chosen in a Judgement is binding on future play,
    unless and until some rule determines the situation.
  * The statement chosen in a Judgement is never binding on play.
The Recorder's random judge picker selected Colin Batchelor, the Recorder himself, so it wasn't very long before Judgement was delivered. The Judge took the unprecedented action of returning not one but two judgements, which he numbered J(30a) and J(30b).
Hello, hello.  I see that according to 401(5), a Judgement will choose
"one of the options set out in the Call for Judgement".  Hence I present
you with two Judgements from the one CFJ:

Judgement J(30a)

:   * The statement chosen in a Judgement is binding on past play.

Judgement J(30b)

:   * The statement chosen in a Judgement is binding on future play,
:     unless and until some rule determines the situation.


Having found the rules silent on this issue, I have had to resort to past
Judgements, and J(-19) tells me that "Cozens' Judgement is legal and
binding.", and I'll say that this is relevant to all Judgements.  Yes.
The Appeal A(-19) didn't disagree.
This Judgement seemed decidedly fishy to Ian Collier, who responded with J(31).
    * It is legal for a Judge to produce two Judgements.
    * It is illegal for a Judge to produce two Judgements.

   The Judge of J(30) took the odd step of presenting two Judgements,
   J(30a) and J(30b).  I claim that this is in conflict with the rules for
   answering a Call for Judgement.  Specifically, Rule 401(5) states
   (emphasis mine):

     A legal judgement will chose ONE of the options set out in the Call
     for Judgement or may choose and state another alternative.

   If the Judge felt that no one of the options represented a correct
   answer then he should have chosen an alternative (possibly encompassing
   two or more of the given options) and supplied that as the unique
At the time of writing this newsletter, the selected Judge - Simon Cozens - has not produced a Judgement which is acceptable to the Recorder, although he has produced one which was not acceptable.