Translucent Dominoes (Cooperation Games II)

Most tiling problems are strictly segregational, i.e. the tiles are not allowed to overlap. To change this, let’s consider tiles that are partially translucent, so that in order to really tile a part of the plane, one needs to cover it multiple times.

This is the first in a series of posts about partially translucent polyominoes, and we begin with translucent dominoes, of which there are three:

Dominoes 01

The purple one is a regular (non-translucent) domino, and to the right you can see my feeble attempt to tile a 4×4 square of which two opposite squares have been removed (This is of course a very classical puzzle). The other two dominoes have one or two translucent squares, which are shown as gray. This translucency means that in order to properly tile a square with dominoes, we need to cover it either with a single solid color square, or with two translucent (gray) squares, i.e. the gray portions of two dominoes must overlap, like so: Connect 01

The left image shows two fully translucent dominoes that overlap in the middle square, while the left and right squares are still only covered once. By counting the small connector squares you can see how many gray squares sit on top of each other. In the middle is a chain of four dominoes, all gray tiles are doubled. And to the right we have covered the middle gray square three times, which is illegal for now. 

If we use only the blue singly translucent domino to tile, two of them need to overlap to form a single classical (segregational) tromino, so tiling with these dominoes alone is equivalent to tiling with trominoes.

Domino tromino 01

You should try to tile the 4×4 square (with two opposite corners removed as above) with copies of either the singly or the doubly  translucent domino. In both cases, this is impossible (and impossible for larger squares as well, again with opposite corners removed. You will enjoy finding the arguments). Tiling becomes easier when you allow both types of translucent tiles, a simple solution to the 4×4 puzzle is shown below to the right. The left figure gives a hint what limitations you face when you try to tile with the doubly translucent domino alone.

Domino4x4 01

As a cooperative game, start with a 6×6 square, mark a few tiles as forbidden, and then take turns to place translucent dominoes on the board with the goal to tile the board completely, following the translucency rule.

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