With the holidays approaching fast, the amount of time available for face-to-face gaming dwindles, so I thought I’d give this classic abstract a spin in a PBEM format.
I hadn’t played in a long time, so I fell back to the strategy that was popular when I was in third grade: start in the corner. I emailed the move (X in upper left) to my opponent, hoping I wasn’t years behind the learning curve in tic-tac-toe strategic theory. I was nervous as I awaited the reply. Was there some new opening gambit for the second player that I was unaware of? Something that would smash the upper left opening?
The reply came back: O in middle right. Not at all what I was expecting. I googled ‘tic tac toe strategy’ and found several sites with comprehensive guides, but reading those mid-game seemed unfair. I pushed onwards with my out-of-date strategy: X in lower left
The wait between moves was excruciating. I was trying to predict the possible moves my opponent would make when a new message popped into my inbox: O in middle left.
The wheels had completely come off. My carefully laid plans had been smashed. With no other options, I took the only move that wouldn’t lose me the game: X in center
It seemed like forever before the email with the next move arrived: O in upper right. A bold offensive move…but wait! Here was something we had both missed! I could both block and win at the same time! X in lower right! A win! I was emotionally drained afterwards. My wife had played a brilliant game and it was mostly luck on my part that had allowed me to pull out the win. I’ll have to be sure to congratulate her when I see her next.