Games: Phone Pad Tic-Tac-Toe

tic-tac-toeTic-Tac-Toe can be challenging to young minds as they attempt different permutations and ways of countering the “win” of another person. Getting them to play with new people is even better at giving them a chance to break out of old habits. However, after a while, tic-tac-toe becomes a little boring. Even if you can’t win, you can see early on how it’s going to play out after enough repetition. Thus, we step it up with Phone Pad Tic-Tac-Toe.

Unlike the Fixed Start Chess I posted about last time, I cannot claim this one as my idea. My daughter, “Squirelflight,” and I went to have lunch with her father a few weeks back. It was a rare treat for her, and one that proved quite entertaining, especially as the Red Robin child’s menu included lots of blank tic-tac-toe spaces. It prompted her father to recount childhood memories of playing tic-tac-toe with a friend anywhere and at anytime, without needing any writing implements.

“Think of a phone,” her father said.

The game is played thus:

  • Imagine the first three rows of a phone pad:
  • Impose those numbers of the tic-tac-toe grid in your mind.
  • Pick who will start, and that person calls out a number.
  • The second person calls out another number on the pad, and the game is afoot.
  • The game ends when one person gets three in a row (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally) just as in regular tic-tac-toe. The only difference? The players have to imagine the board they’re playing on and remember who made which moves.

The beauty of this method of tic-tac-toe is that the challenge goes beyond learning strategy to block and out-maneuver the opponent. It also requires focused attention, exercising short term memory, and a basic level of imagination in addition to what else it requires of the mind.

Her father added, “he and I would go for walks, could get separated in crowds, and continue playing. We went to a fair, and shouted out numbers; I saw some people writing down the numbers, trying to figure out what we were doing.”

We’ve since played this game in the car with the other children in our homeschooling group. Though I’ve long since mastered the art of not losing, I found it quite a challenge trying to play this version, which helped set us all on a more closely matched game.

If you’ve tried the Fixed Start Chess, you might also like learning an entirely different way of playing chess. Glinski’s method is new to me, but I might have a better chance at beating my mom next time I see her. Like the phone pad tic-tac-toe, there’s a lot to be said for taking old games and giving them a new twist–it certainly helps reduce the gap in skill levels if you can learn and practice together.

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