The Equivalent – Tic-Tac-Toe and Your Money

It’s fundraiser week here at WCBN.  No one is exempt from this process.  You’re not.  I’m not.  WCBN likes to consider itself a service to the community in much the same way that I consider myself.  Why should you donate?  Specifically, why should you donate to my show?  Because I’m going to help you.

This week, in conjunction with a new episode of Great Ideas, I’ll be bringing you the first in a series of Tic-Tac-Toe guides, called Matt-Tac-Toe.  Today’s game of study is the third round of the Wichita Champion-God Finals of 1993.

X: Marlon Twelve of Haysville, KS
O:  Jessica Fishburne of Kansas City, MO

c1
X starts off with the Cronenberg Corner.  There are 4 variations of the Cronenberg (a1, c1, a3, and c3), which are all equally strong.  After playing c3 to open the last game, X [Twelve] goes with c1.  It’s a strong opening.  The only way for O [Fishburne] to have a chance at guaranteeing a cat’s game is by playing b2.  However, even with b2 played, X has a chance for a different forced victory by playing a1 (which leads to the Polish Rooks Attack).  b2 is the only safe move.  However O plays…

b3
O counters the Cronenberg with the Canadian Jar Top.  This, while a bold defensive gambit, is not an ideal move.  X is given the chance to continue the Cronenberg with either a1 or c3.  X decides on…

a1
Another strong move, and a logical progression of the Cronenberg.  No matter O’s next move, he no longer has the ability force a tie.  In desperation he plays…

b1
The only move to avoid the embarrassing 5-turn loss.  It opens a chance for victory at B2 on his next turn, but even with this admirable counter-offensive play, X can all but seal the victory by playing b2 first.  This opens the line for two different tic-tac-toes at A1-B2-C3 and A3-B2-C1.  O would not be able to defend both diagonals with a single move.  However, X plays

a2
A mistake. X misses the opportunity at b2 entirely.  While a2 opened up a chance at a different ‘toe (A1-A2-A3), it misses the chance at the two-pronged attack b2 would have afforded.  It also leaves the middle column open for a B1-B2-B3 tic-tac-toe for O.  The defensive counter should afford O the victory.  However, O plays…

c3
Another mistake.  O entirely misses the available tic-tac-toe on the B column entirely and instead uses the turn to set up a possible tic-tac-toe on A3.  This is not ideal, as X has already set up that square for his own tic-tac-toe.  A move by X to A3 would end the game, however X moves to…

b2
A move too late.  While this does defend O’s potential tic-tac-toe on the B column, it ignores X’s own chance to end the game at A3 with an A-column tic-tac-toe.  More importantly, it also leaves O open to take A3 himself and end the game with a 3-row ‘toe.  With only two spaces still available on the board, it’s difficult to see this game going to a ninth turn.  However, O plays

c2
A mistake.  With only one space available on the final turn, all signs point to X taking the victory with the humiliating 45 Degree 5-Mark Scotch (A1-A2-A3-B2-C1).  But unexpectedly…

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to A3
A stunning victory for The Rock at the last second with the New England Blitz.

This game, while not exemplary of highest-level tic-tac-toe play, excels in showing the necessity for focused decision-making in the late turns of a game.  If either player were on top of their game, they would have almost certainly taken the victory.  X and O each had multiple chances for victory.  (It should be noted that both players finished this round with over 20 minutes left on their timeclocks.) The world’s most successful tic-tac-toe players use all available resources to their advantage, as The Rock did here.  This game is successful not as an example, but as a warning.

We’ll be discussing this on the show tonight, along with an appearance by Ben Affleck on Dead Air as well a pathetic appeal to give WCBN money.  Absolutely pathetic.

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