Ways to beat old school games using maths. (deleted content)

If you came here because of the link on this article, here are two example that the editors for some reason or another cut from the final product. Enjoy.

Connect 4.

A game so simple the instructions for it are right there one the box. However, connecting 4 in a row is notoriously difficult as your every move is ever more likely to be blocked off by your opponent the longer you play, especially if they figure out they can jam like three pieces in there at once and block off that entire row (it’s a legit tactic).


Racial superiority, the game.

Image from here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hasbro-08417-Connect-4-Game/dp/B0036OQL28

Normally reserved for children, companies have long come up with new and more interesting ways for the game to be played, which is company jargon for ruining the shit out of a timeless classic.

First things first though, holy shit! Take a look at those two pictures, in the first one they’re playing with smaller versions of themselves, in the second they’ve cut out the faces, OF THEIR OWN CHILDREN! But enough of that, you want to know how to win this game, not be freaked out by it, the freaking out comes later.

How to win.

In what is perhaps the biggest case of taking a sledgehammer to crack a walnut, Victor Allis decided that he was going to apply his masters level of mathematical knowledge to find the perfect way to play the game. By perfect we mean, using his tactic, you can never lose the game, as long as you go first.


That’s a winners grin right there.

Image from here: http://inquisitiveelks.blogspot.com/2010/06/games-games-games.html

Using what Victor describes as a set of “9 basic rules” which a massive understatement, unless you consider degree level maths basic, (which let’s face it as a Cracked reader you totally do), you can win every time. Which we assume is Victors way of making fun of this page, which goes into insane detail about the kind of tactics experts use. Hell we bet his parent called him Victor just so he’s constantly be used to winning by the time he came up with this strategy.

Essentially Victor has made the whole game pointless, as while using, an albeit insane amount mathematical skill, you can in fact win every damn time. Meaning if you really, really want to, you can the first person to be accused of hustling at connect four.

Tic tac toe.If you’ve never played tic-tac-toe, congratulations on living your life free of the constraints of friendship, if you have we really don’t need to explain what it is. In what is probably one of the simplest games created, you have to get three of your symbols in a row, while your opponent tries to do the same. Easy.


We made these elaborate carvings to appease the tic tac toe god.

Image from here.http://eil.com/shop/moreinfo.asp?catalogid=322282

However, if you’ve ever played the game against anyone who’s not a child or seen the Wargames film, you’ll notice it’s very rare if not totally impossible that you’ll ever actually win a game. Well that’s down to the fact there’s an optimum way to play the game.

How to win.

With any game there are only a set number of possible games that can be made, with a chess board it numbers in the tens of billions, with a more reserved 3×3 tic-tac-toe board this number is far lower but still rather high 125,168.

However, even then you don’t need to know the majority of these, all you need to know is the best way to play, if you don’t fancy learning any of that remembering bullshit, xkcd have an interactive chart showing you the best possible move to make for every move your opponent could make. Essentially though, since the number of possible moves is relatively small, there are only so many possible response to any move, that simply require a good memory to master.


Or the ability to crush all those who oppose you.

Image from here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahmorgan/how-to-play-tic-tac-toe-d8

Which is where tic-tac-toe fails as a game, since if two players both use this optimal strategy, every single game will end in a draw. However, according to the stats you’ll beat what’s considered an “experienced player” 2% of the time, which is 2% more than anyone will ever beat you. As master players, or ones who know the correct way to play make up a very tiny minority of actual players. Sure drawing the majority of the time sucks, but think how badass the boast “I’ve never been defeated, only equalled” makes you sound. Presuming of course you refer to tic-tac-toe as sex.

One thought on “Ways to beat old school games using maths. (deleted content)

  1. I enjoyed reading the article on cracked and this was the reason I came to this site, but I got to tell you that I absolutely understand why this content was cut out by cracked.
    Different from the games you describe in the featured article, you don’t actually give the answer to how to win the game in your writing, instead you send the reader off to an external website to find out…by reading a 91-page master thesis for example. So the whole “how to win” part stays very unsatisfying because you end reading it and still don’t know how the f*** to win!
    So apart from the fact that your article would have been most probably been too long for the attention span of the trained cracked reader, I think these two chapters really fall behind quality-wise.
    Don’t worry though, it is absolutely normal to get cut back, be happy if your writing stayed recognizable, that’s more than most writers can ask for!

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