Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 12

Learning Journal Activity -- How to...

For this week's activity, you are asked to write a post describing how to do a particular task. There is a virtually inexhaustible list of various sorts of things you might write about, some of which include how to cook your favorite dessert, how to fix a bike chain, how to tie your shoe, how to carve a pumpkin, how to kick a soccer ball, how to meditate, how to organize a bookshelf, how to do a load of laundry, how to organize a surprise party, and so on.

Although this activity seems relatively simple, it may be somewhat more complicated and take a bit more thought or explanation than you expect (as I learned when putting together the example below). You may find it useful to include images to guide your readers through the process of how to do whatever task or activity you decide to describe. If you have questions or comments about this activity, get in touch with me through my mun dot ca email or leave a comment on this post.

How to never lose at Tic-Tac-Toe

Tic-tac-toe is essentially a game of logic and can be understood in mathematical terms. Knowing how to never lose will make your friends think you are some sort of genius and might even help you get out of having to pick up the dinner tab. There is no sure-fire way to win every game, but there is a method that will ensure you never lose. However, if both players know the system of the game, no one will ever win. For the purpose of this description, let us assume you are playing as O. There are three main variations to be understood so you will never lose. In the description below, I have indicated the most important point in bold type, but it is also important to read a bit further into each variation to know the subsequent moves.

  • If on the first move X takes any corner (either 1, 3, 7, or 9), then O must take the center (5). Let us assume X takes the top left (1), and then O takes the center (5). In the next move if X takes the opposite corner (9), then O must take one of the side tiles (2, 4, 6, or 8) in order to force X to cut off O's potential three in a row. (i.e. assuming that O takes 6 on the second move, X must respond by taking 4 or risk losing). After this, O will then take whatever corner square will cut of X's three in a row (7, in our example), after which X will likewise cut off O (3). The players proceed in this fashion, and the game ends in a draw.
  • If on the first move X takes the center (5), then O must take a corner (1, 3, 7, or 9). Let us assume X takes the center (5), and then O takes the top right (3). If on move two X takes the bottom right corner (9), then O will simply cut off X by taking the top left (1). From this position, the game proceeds by cutting off the other player as in the earlier example. If on the second move X had taken one of the side tiles (2, 4, 6, or 8), then O would similarly proceed by simply cutting off any potential three-in-a-row.
  • If on the first move X takes a side tile (2, 4, 6, or 8), then O must take the center (5). Let us assume X takes the left side tile (4), and then O takes the center (5). If on the next move X takes a corner on the opposite side from their first move (3 or 9), then O must take a corner above or below the first X placed (1 if on the second move X takes 3, or 7 if on the second move X takes 9). The game continues, as in the variations above, with each player blocking until there is a draw.
If you are interested in testing out this strategy to never lose, have a look at this link to an online tic-tac-toe game, and if you are really adventurous you might like to go up against a poetic tic-tac-po game I put together (requires Flash and best viewed in Firefox).