# Swapping 3 rooks in a 3x3 grid

This puzzle was inspired by this one: Swapping rooks in a 4x4 board

What is the least number of moves required to swap black and white rooks? Rooks move using standard chess rules - any number of empty cells vertically or horizontally. You do not need to alternate players. • Is a "move" moving one space, or moving any number of spaces in one direction? Sep 23 '20 at 1:11
• Any number of spaces. I've clarified this in the problem. Sep 23 '20 at 1:13
• @Deepthinker101 use <pre> tags like I have done. Also please hide it using the >! syntax Sep 23 '20 at 1:54

Using the same notation that @Deepthinker came up with, (i.e. x = black rook, o = white rook, - = empty space), I came up with the following series of steps:

Starting Position:
x x -
x - o
- o o

1:

x - x
x - o
- o o

2:

x - x
- - o
x o o

3:

- - x
x - o
x o o

4:

- o x
x - o
x - o

5:

o - x
x - o
x - o

6:

o - x
x - o
x o -

7:

o o x
x - o
x - -

8:

o o x
x - o
- - x

9:

o o x
- - o
x - x

10:

o o x
o - -
x - x

11:

o o -
o - x
x - x

12:

o o -
o - x
- x x

I do not know whether or not this is the optimal strategy though. Still working on that.

• Nice solution! I checked with a computer program, and this is optimal. My code Sep 23 '20 at 6:10
• well done you got it! Now can you (or anyone else) prove that this is optimal without a computer? Sep 23 '20 at 7:27
• Maybe I am missing something, but it seems almost obvious. the 12 and 32 as well as 21 and 23 rook pairs (positions : first nb horizontal, second nb vertical) cannot swap in 2 moves altogether because then they would "meet". That simply means the final positions for each rook won't be in its original row/column (obv. if we are not looking for the optimal case, they can be..) each rook needs at least 2 steps to reach their final position, so 6*2=12. So this number is the theoretical minimum Sep 23 '20 at 12:16
• @FireCase that's correct well done! Sep 23 '20 at 12:43
• @FIreCase, in this solution not all rooks made at least 2 steps though. the rook that moved in step 10 only made one step in total. one rook made 3 steps (the rook that moved in step 3,9 and 12). I agree that 12 is the theoretical minimum, but I'm not sure how to prove it Sep 23 '20 at 13:12