March 22, 2005

Tic Tac D'oh

Area man squanders tactical advantage in front of raucous coliseum crowd.

Joel Grabois

NEW YORK—In an unprecedented turn of events at a recent sporting competition, a throng of fans was first dismayed, then outraged, as a fellow New Yorker failed to execute sound strategy in the traditional child's game of Tic-Tac-Toe. During a commercial break in March 13's Knicks vs. Supersonics match at Madison Square Garden, coliseum workers activated a floor version of the game to entertain their captive audience. A large rubber sheet displaying a three-by-three grid was unfurled at halfcourt, and coliseum staff gave oversized X's and O's to two "lucky" fans as they prepared to compete for a $100 gift certificate and a chance to win a $10,000 grand prize at a drawing later in the season.

The sport of Tic-Tac-Toe dates back to 14th Century England. Rules require two players to alternately place their designated X or O within the grid of lines in an attempt to gain a coveted linear trifecta, thus winning.

On this night, the hallowed game had a twist—basketball skills were merged with strategic acumen. Each player could place one piece on the board only after making a basket and then running to center court where the board was positioned.

The scene quickly turned ugly. One participant was slightly better at basketball, thus allowing him the first move. He hastily threw the first X into the far corner, a move known as Tic-Tac-Toe's version of the Blackburne Gambit. His competitor quickly placed an O on the adjacent corner, leaving a diagonal move open to both. But after the fairly traditional opening sequence, the superior basketball player placed the X in the line already blocked by an O—a glaring misstep. The murmur of the confused crowd gained intensity. In the fourth move, his competitor took advantage, positioning the second O next to the first in a line across the side of the board.

His opponent had one more chance, but he placed his third and ultimately final X on the only other corner that did not block the two consecutive O's—a half-hearted attempt at the block, to say the least. The inevitable third O fell into place, ending the match.

The final configuration, with the number after each letter indicating the sequence in which the letters were placed:

X(5) - O(6)
- - O(4)
X(1) X(3) O(2)

In a scene displayed too often at New York City sporting events, the crowd's murmurs turned to directed boos, which carried vociferously over the court. The targeted man, slowly understanding the state of the crowd and his poor play, displayed an all-American gesture. He shrugged his shoulders and slowly exited the floor.

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- Sports
- posted on Mar 25, 05

It's funny how New Yorkers can walk around the city like zombies paying absolutly no mind to what's go on around them. Yet, they get together in an arena and act like fools over a tic tac toe game. I the stimuli from all those bright lights are corrupting their sensitivety. Have you seen Time Square lately? The buildings look like oversize christmas trees, its ridiculous.

- Sports
- posted on Mar 25, 05

I was at that game and was shocked at the total lack of tic-tac-toe ability, but what surprised me even more was that a similiar thing happened at the Knicks game on Wednesday night against the Celtics. The guy who had the first move took a corner, then on his second move he took a non-adjacent side square! Unbelievable. This game ended in a draw, though, and in case of a draw he with the most markers on the board--the moron, in this case--wins.

- Sports
- posted on Apr 08, 05

Posted by: tyrone at March 25, 2005 11:10 AM

Have you actually been to NYC or just basing your claims on seeing Times Square on TV? 99% of NYers never step foot in times square. Also, do you think they could actually function in NY as "zombies"? Please. The zombies can roam the rest of this country that doesn't have her priorities straight.

Article by Joel Grabois

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