Vn56.1 TicTacToe 7/19/77

These games of tic-tac-toe followed immediately the arithmetic of Home Session 13. The focus of the session is on the bipolar (i. e. competitive) quality of tic-tac-toe. This focus is maintained by contrasting the game with playing SHOOT around the issue of clever tactics. (My moves are numbers; Miriam’s are letters.)
Game 1: Miriam first

	 D  |     |  B
	    |  A  |  3
	 2  |  1  |  C	 

After Miriam’s move C:

B Do you know any clever tactics for tic-tac-toe? . . . Do you think it’s easier to win at SHOOT or tic-tac-toe?
M [points to tic-tac-toe frame]
B It’s easy to win at tic-tac-toe?
B Do you notice anything special about the way your markers are?
M Two ways to win.
B Did you just see that after I told you?
M No.
B You knew it all along?
M I had a forced move, and I wanted to move there.
B They came together, your wanting and the forced move?
M Miriam Yeah.

Game 2: Bob first

	 C   |     |  2 
	     |  1  |  4
	 B   |  A  |  3 

When Miriam responds to a center opening with a mid-row move (as I had done in game 1), I introduce the theme of turning the tables on your opponent.

B I know what I’ll do. I’ll play the game you played. I’ll use your own clever trick to beat you.
M Yeah? [I don’t believe you can]
B Just like that [move 2], ’cause you have a forced move now.
M [moves B]
B I’m going to use your clever trick to beat you.
M [moves C]
B I’ll win anyway. I turned the tables on you.
M I know.

Game 3: Miriam first

            |  2  |  A
	 1  |  D  | 
	 B  |  3  |  C 

The game was to provide contrast with normal competitive play by my taking Miriam’s direction about where to move. It harks back to her earlier proclivity for negotiation in the game (cf. vignette 5) and induces a resurgence of that style. We act out the fairy tale motif of the child (Miriam) defeating the ogre (me) by making a promise, then escaping from it by a quibble (not, in fact, necessary in the move configuration).

B Where should I go?
M Not there [center square]. Don’t. Don’t.
B You tell me where to go. I’ll go where you tell me.
M Here [upper left corner].
B Over here in the corner?
M No. No. There.
B [moves 1]
M B [moves].
B Now I have a forced move [center square].
M I don’t want you to go there.
B I’m going to go in the center.
M No no. No no. I’m not going to move there. I promise. A million dollars.
B Where should I move?
M There.
B You want me to go up here? [moves 2]
M [moves C] Two ways to win [laughing].
B Yeah. But what about this? [center square] You could have won right away by going there.
M Yes. But I promised you I wouldn’t a million dollars.
B Oh boy.
M That’s why.
B It looks like you’ve got 3 ways to win, but if you go that way [center square], you lose a million dollars, so I’ll put my 3 down here.
M [moves D] I mean just for that once [laughing].
B Oh, you stinker! . . . Do you think it’s easier to win if I do what you tell me?
M Yeah.
B What is it about my moving where I want that makes it harder for you to win?
M [no response]

Game 4: Bob first

	    |     |  A
	 3  |  2  |  C
	 1  |     |  B 

After Miriam moves A:

B You have frustrated my tactic.

M [laughs]

B I had a plan all set up, but you frustrated it.

M I always like to frustrate your plans.

B You do! Well. . . that’s what tic-tac-toe is all about. Stop the other guy from winning. . . . I’ll go here [moves 2 in center square].

M [moves B]

B You frustrated my — I was planning on going there. I was going to get two ways to win. Oh well, I’ll go over on this side [moves 3]. I’ve got you now. 2 ways to win.

M No. You made a mistake [laughing]. [moves C]

B Oh no. . . . It looks as though I didn’t have a good plan for getting 2 ways to win. I had one way to lose.

Game 5: Miriam first

	 3  |  C  |  A
	 E  |  1  |  4
	 B  |  2  |  D 

The previous game exemplified losing by focusing on a winning tactic instead of attending to the opponent’s moves. Here, we try to exemplify how knowing a clever trick in an opponent’s repertoire permits frustrating it. After Miriam’s opening, she requests that I not move in the lower left corner.

B I’ll put a 1 right here in the center.

M [moves B]

B What’s going on here? . . . I remember now, you have a clever tactic in mind. ‘Cause if I go there [the other currently unoccupied corner], then you will have 2 ways to win, and I’ll have a way to lose.

M Yeah.

B I will frustrate your tactic.

M How?

B I will put my 2 here.

M Oh. [disappointed, she makes forced move C]

Game 6: Bob first

	 B  | 1 | 2
	 D  | A | C
	 4  |   | 3 

B I’m kind of tired of going in the center, so I’ll go someplace I hardly ever go.

M [moves A]

B There’s only one problem with your going in the center.

M What?

B It’s kind of hard for me to get 2 ways to win. I can go over here [move 2].

M [moves B]

B You’ve just blocked me by doing a forced move. Hmmm. Now I have a forced move too [move 3].

M [moves C; makes noises of discontent when I gesture to the square where D is later]

B You tell me where to move.

M Here.

B Shouldn’t I make a forced move?

M Unh-uh.

B How come? You want me to lose by making a stupid move?

M Yeah.

B O. K. [moves 4]

M [moves D]

B You won, ’cause I did what you told me.

This vignette focuses on the contrast between SHOOT and tic-tac-toe as a 2 person game. “Turning the tables” is articulated as a clever trick. Frustrating tactics is exemplified 2 ways.

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