## Saturday, August 09, 2008

## Sunday, June 01, 2008

### Tic-Tac-Toe Tips

Since I am the greatest tic-tac-toe player in the world (actually tied with thousands for that title), I thought I'd write up a basic strategy for the game, whose secrets I cracked in high school study hall.

The Board & Basics

There are nine spaces or boxes in tic-tac-toe that can be played. They can be grouped into three categories:

The center square (5)

Corner squares (1,3,7,9)

Edge squares (2,4,6,8)

The goal as most know, is to get three of your symbol in a row. The only way this can be done, without counting on a silly oversight by your opponent, is to move in such a way that there becomes 2 ways for you to win - thus creating a situation where your opponent cannot block both of them.

Going First

If you have the first move, you should be playing to win. Although it is impossible for anyone to win if the opponent has optimum strategy (every game between two perfect players is a draw), many do not. You may think that with the first move you have nine spaces to choose from. You would be wrong. In reality, you only have three choices: center, corner, or edge. All the squares in a category are actually the same for the first move. Simply rotating the game board can prove this.

Corner Strategy

My preferred first move against an inexperienced opponent is to choose one of the corner squares. As mentioned above, it doesn't matter which one.

Non-Center Square Opponent Move

If your opponent does not then select the center square with their first square, you will win, your opponent can no longer stop you if you employ proper strategy. (The strategies listed are not necessary the only successful ones for the scenario, but are sufficiently unstoppable). When I say "guarantee your win" this means that you have set up a scenario where on your next turn you will have at least 2 ways to win, and your opponent can't stop both of them. Being forced to move somewhere means that you (or the opponent) must select a certain space to prevent a win.

For example if your first move was square 1:

and you opponent selects square 2, then play square 7. When your opponent is forced to play square 4, then play square 3, 5, or 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 3, then play square 7. When your opponent is forced to play square 4, then play square 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 4, then play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 2, then play square 5 or 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 6, the play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 2, then play square 5 or 7 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 7, then play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 2, then play square 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 8, then play square 7. When your opponent is forced to play square 4, then play square 3 or 5 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 9, then play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 2, then play square 7 to guarantee your win.

The scenarios for your corner moves starting in 3, 7, or 9 are, as you would expect, remarkably similar and are left as an exercise to the reader.

Center Square Opponent Move

If your opponent makes his first move in the center square (remember this after you have moved in a corner square), you will have a much tougher time winning. In fact your only chance for a guaranteed win, barring a catastrophic blunder from your opponent, is to make your next move in the opposite corner and hope your opponent then selects another corner for his second move.

That is, if your select square 1, your opponent selects square 5, then you should select square 9. If you opponent then selects either 3 or 7 you can select the remaining corner square and guarantee your win.

Center Square Strategy

As an alterative to the corner first strategy, you may want to consider selecting the center square with your first move. This offers fewer chances to win then the corner first strategy, but is a nice mix-up to someone who is becoming wise to the corner first strategy.

Edge Square Opponent Move

If in response to your center square selection, your opponent selects an edge square, you can be certain of victory. Assuming you use correct strategy of course. Once again, the strategies listed are not necessary the only successful ones for the scenario, but are sufficiently unstoppable.

For example if your first move was square 5:

and you opponent selects square 2, then play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 7, then play square 6 or 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 4, then play square 1. When your opponent is forced to play square 9, then play square 3 or 7 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 6, then play square 9. When your opponent is forced to play square 1, then play square 7 or 8 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 8, then play square 7. When your opponent is forced to play square 3, hen play 1 or 4 to guarantee your win.

Corner Square Opponent Move

If in response to your center square selection, your opponent selects a corner square, you will have a much harder time wining. In fact your only chance for a guaranteed win, barring a catastrophic blunder from your opponent, is to make your next move in the opposite corner of your opponents move, and then hope your opponent selects an edge square with their second selection.

For example, if you select square 5 with the first move, and your opponent selects square 1, and in response you select square 9, then if

you opponent selects square 2, then you are forced to play square 3, and this gives you a guaranteed win.

… plays square 4, then you are forced to play square 7, and this gives you a guaranteed win.

… plays square 6, then you play square 8, giving yourself a guaranteed win.

… plays square 8, then you play square 6, giving yourself a guaranteed win.

The scenarios for the opponent's first move in a corner other than square 1 are, as you would expect, remarkably similar and are left as an exercise to the reader.

Edge Square Strategy

Your other option when making the first selection is to select an edge square. As this is the weakest first move, it is not recommended for beginning players.

Going Second

Of course, you do not always get to go first. When you are playing second, your goal should be to force a cat game (that is, a draw) because you cannot win unless your opponent makes a very grievous mistake.

The golden rule of going second is this: If your opponent doesn't take the center square, you must take it. And if your opponent does take the center square, you must take a corner square. This solves approximately 90% of the problems of going second. All you have to do from there is to avoid the secondary pitfalls. Most of these can be determined from the going first section, just put yourself and the place of the opponent.

Good night and good luck.

Not that luck is a factor in tic-tac-toe.

The Board & Basics

There are nine spaces or boxes in tic-tac-toe that can be played. They can be grouped into three categories:

The center square (5)

Corner squares (1,3,7,9)

Edge squares (2,4,6,8)

The goal as most know, is to get three of your symbol in a row. The only way this can be done, without counting on a silly oversight by your opponent, is to move in such a way that there becomes 2 ways for you to win - thus creating a situation where your opponent cannot block both of them.

Going First

If you have the first move, you should be playing to win. Although it is impossible for anyone to win if the opponent has optimum strategy (every game between two perfect players is a draw), many do not. You may think that with the first move you have nine spaces to choose from. You would be wrong. In reality, you only have three choices: center, corner, or edge. All the squares in a category are actually the same for the first move. Simply rotating the game board can prove this.

Corner Strategy

My preferred first move against an inexperienced opponent is to choose one of the corner squares. As mentioned above, it doesn't matter which one.

Non-Center Square Opponent Move

If your opponent does not then select the center square with their first square, you will win, your opponent can no longer stop you if you employ proper strategy. (The strategies listed are not necessary the only successful ones for the scenario, but are sufficiently unstoppable). When I say "guarantee your win" this means that you have set up a scenario where on your next turn you will have at least 2 ways to win, and your opponent can't stop both of them. Being forced to move somewhere means that you (or the opponent) must select a certain space to prevent a win.

For example if your first move was square 1:

and you opponent selects square 2, then play square 7. When your opponent is forced to play square 4, then play square 3, 5, or 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 3, then play square 7. When your opponent is forced to play square 4, then play square 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 4, then play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 2, then play square 5 or 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 6, the play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 2, then play square 5 or 7 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 7, then play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 2, then play square 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 8, then play square 7. When your opponent is forced to play square 4, then play square 3 or 5 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 9, then play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 2, then play square 7 to guarantee your win.

The scenarios for your corner moves starting in 3, 7, or 9 are, as you would expect, remarkably similar and are left as an exercise to the reader.

Center Square Opponent Move

If your opponent makes his first move in the center square (remember this after you have moved in a corner square), you will have a much tougher time winning. In fact your only chance for a guaranteed win, barring a catastrophic blunder from your opponent, is to make your next move in the opposite corner and hope your opponent then selects another corner for his second move.

That is, if your select square 1, your opponent selects square 5, then you should select square 9. If you opponent then selects either 3 or 7 you can select the remaining corner square and guarantee your win.

Center Square Strategy

As an alterative to the corner first strategy, you may want to consider selecting the center square with your first move. This offers fewer chances to win then the corner first strategy, but is a nice mix-up to someone who is becoming wise to the corner first strategy.

Edge Square Opponent Move

If in response to your center square selection, your opponent selects an edge square, you can be certain of victory. Assuming you use correct strategy of course. Once again, the strategies listed are not necessary the only successful ones for the scenario, but are sufficiently unstoppable.

For example if your first move was square 5:

and you opponent selects square 2, then play square 3. When your opponent is forced to play square 7, then play square 6 or 9 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 4, then play square 1. When your opponent is forced to play square 9, then play square 3 or 7 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 6, then play square 9. When your opponent is forced to play square 1, then play square 7 or 8 to guarantee your win.

… selects square 8, then play square 7. When your opponent is forced to play square 3, hen play 1 or 4 to guarantee your win.

Corner Square Opponent Move

If in response to your center square selection, your opponent selects a corner square, you will have a much harder time wining. In fact your only chance for a guaranteed win, barring a catastrophic blunder from your opponent, is to make your next move in the opposite corner of your opponents move, and then hope your opponent selects an edge square with their second selection.

For example, if you select square 5 with the first move, and your opponent selects square 1, and in response you select square 9, then if

you opponent selects square 2, then you are forced to play square 3, and this gives you a guaranteed win.

… plays square 4, then you are forced to play square 7, and this gives you a guaranteed win.

… plays square 6, then you play square 8, giving yourself a guaranteed win.

… plays square 8, then you play square 6, giving yourself a guaranteed win.

The scenarios for the opponent's first move in a corner other than square 1 are, as you would expect, remarkably similar and are left as an exercise to the reader.

Edge Square Strategy

Your other option when making the first selection is to select an edge square. As this is the weakest first move, it is not recommended for beginning players.

Going Second

Of course, you do not always get to go first. When you are playing second, your goal should be to force a cat game (that is, a draw) because you cannot win unless your opponent makes a very grievous mistake.

The golden rule of going second is this: If your opponent doesn't take the center square, you must take it. And if your opponent does take the center square, you must take a corner square. This solves approximately 90% of the problems of going second. All you have to do from there is to avoid the secondary pitfalls. Most of these can be determined from the going first section, just put yourself and the place of the opponent.

Good night and good luck.

Not that luck is a factor in tic-tac-toe.

## Thursday, March 06, 2008

### I thought I saw a rat in my apartment

On closer examination in proved to be a giant cockroach!

And yes, I killed it. Never had to resort to using a shoe to kill a cockroach before.

And yes, I killed it. Never had to resort to using a shoe to kill a cockroach before.

## Wednesday, February 13, 2008

### BIg Thumbs Down to Mavs Trade

The deal looks like:

Jason Kidd and Malik Allen

for

Devin Harris and DeSagana Diop and Jerry Stackhouse and Devean George and Maurice Ager and the Mavs' 2008 1st round pick and the Mavs' 2010 1st round pick and $3 million.

Stackhouse may be cut be New Jersey for money reasons and may come back to Dallas. Allen is probably a meaningless throw in so the Mavs can meet roster requirements.

I think this is a horrible trade for the Mavs. Consider that stat averages:

Jason Kidd - 37 minutes, 11.3 points, 10.4 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 36.6% shooting.

Devin Harris - 30 minutes, 14.4 points 5.3 assists, 2.4 turnovers, 48.3% shooting.

Kidd is the superstar he once was. Even so Kidd is still a first rate ball distributor, especially in the full court. Kidd is also an excellent rebounder for a point guard, although this will probably drop in Dallas as Howard, Nowitzki, and Dampier will clear the defensive boards nicely. He's also got experience.

However, Kidd has lost a step defensively, it appears from such examples as Gary Payton that defense is the first thing to go for old point guards. Harris is one of the top defensive point guards in the league, many consider him the best. With the possible meeting up with Steve Nash, Tony Parker, and Chris Paul in the playoffs this could be crucial.

Compared to Kidd, Harris is so much of a better shooter it isn't even funny. He's also the only Maverick to show to the ability to drive to the basket with anything approaching regularity (which is the Mavs biggest problem - settling for jump shots).

The advantage of Kidd over Harris this season isn't as great as supposed. Throw in Diop and it's a trade I probably wouldn't make even if it was just for this season. Diop has struggled somewhat this season, but he's crucial to the Mavs dual center set-up of Dampier and Diop. With the Lakers adding Gasol, and the Suns adding Shaq, and Duncan and Yao still in the West, the Mavs badly need both of the centers.

This is supposed to be a future for now trade, where the Mavs give up some future assets for being better now. I'm not at all convinced that this trade makes the Mavs better this season. Factor in the future, Kidd's age against Kidd's and Diop's and the draft picks given up it's just a horrible trade. It is certain to make them worse in the future and doesn't make them better now.

Jason Kidd and Malik Allen

for

Devin Harris and DeSagana Diop and Jerry Stackhouse and Devean George and Maurice Ager and the Mavs' 2008 1st round pick and the Mavs' 2010 1st round pick and $3 million.

Stackhouse may be cut be New Jersey for money reasons and may come back to Dallas. Allen is probably a meaningless throw in so the Mavs can meet roster requirements.

I think this is a horrible trade for the Mavs. Consider that stat averages:

Jason Kidd - 37 minutes, 11.3 points, 10.4 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 36.6% shooting.

Devin Harris - 30 minutes, 14.4 points 5.3 assists, 2.4 turnovers, 48.3% shooting.

Kidd is the superstar he once was. Even so Kidd is still a first rate ball distributor, especially in the full court. Kidd is also an excellent rebounder for a point guard, although this will probably drop in Dallas as Howard, Nowitzki, and Dampier will clear the defensive boards nicely. He's also got experience.

However, Kidd has lost a step defensively, it appears from such examples as Gary Payton that defense is the first thing to go for old point guards. Harris is one of the top defensive point guards in the league, many consider him the best. With the possible meeting up with Steve Nash, Tony Parker, and Chris Paul in the playoffs this could be crucial.

Compared to Kidd, Harris is so much of a better shooter it isn't even funny. He's also the only Maverick to show to the ability to drive to the basket with anything approaching regularity (which is the Mavs biggest problem - settling for jump shots).

The advantage of Kidd over Harris this season isn't as great as supposed. Throw in Diop and it's a trade I probably wouldn't make even if it was just for this season. Diop has struggled somewhat this season, but he's crucial to the Mavs dual center set-up of Dampier and Diop. With the Lakers adding Gasol, and the Suns adding Shaq, and Duncan and Yao still in the West, the Mavs badly need both of the centers.

This is supposed to be a future for now trade, where the Mavs give up some future assets for being better now. I'm not at all convinced that this trade makes the Mavs better this season. Factor in the future, Kidd's age against Kidd's and Diop's and the draft picks given up it's just a horrible trade. It is certain to make them worse in the future and doesn't make them better now.

## Tuesday, January 29, 2008

### American Gladiators

It doesn't capture the magic of the original, but it's not bad. My favorite gladiators so far are Justice, who appears to be the most competent of the male gladiators and isn't overly gimmicky, and Crush, for a more obvious reason.

The most annoying thing is the increase in the number of commercials and jabbering that combine to decrease the number of events that the contestants get to do. This is followed closely by some problems with the Eliminator.

Which brings us to the Eliminator. The Eliminator was always the deciding event, but in the new version it is decisive to the point that the first four events have basically not mattered. Even worse, it one aspect of the eliminator that has decide 75% of the contests - the treadmill. In addition, there's no longer a time penalty for falling of the hand bike. It would have been better for half the men and almost all the women to fall off on purpose at the start. This is a something that needs to be changed. Hopefully these factors will not be as decisive in the 2nd round of competition.

The most annoying thing is the increase in the number of commercials and jabbering that combine to decrease the number of events that the contestants get to do. This is followed closely by some problems with the Eliminator.

**A look at the events:***Assault:*The changes to this event are bad ones. Having to load the weapons and the silly digging in the sand for an arrow make things take to long for the contestants.*Earthquake:*This event is ok, but I don't like how the ropes come into play so much. All and all, I'd rather have Breakthrough and Conquer back.*Gauntlet:*Nice to see this one back.*Hang Tough:*It has less rings than the original version, I'm undecided as to the question if it is an improvement or not.*Hit & Run:*Lame. Is it the lamest event ever? It does have competition with Swingshot and Sky Track.*Joust:*Perhaps my favorite, but the gladiators need to step it up.*Powerball:*One of my favorites. The change to make the opening on the scoring containers bigger is a good one, but perhaps overdone just a little.*Pyramid:*Another event (with Gauntlet) that wasn't on every season of the original series that it's good to see back.*The Wall:*The Wall is the Wall, never one of my favorites.Which brings us to the Eliminator. The Eliminator was always the deciding event, but in the new version it is decisive to the point that the first four events have basically not mattered. Even worse, it one aspect of the eliminator that has decide 75% of the contests - the treadmill. In addition, there's no longer a time penalty for falling of the hand bike. It would have been better for half the men and almost all the women to fall off on purpose at the start. This is a something that needs to be changed. Hopefully these factors will not be as decisive in the 2nd round of competition.