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Subject: Children on a bus excited to play rss

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Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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Here in Israel, winter, cold and rain all come together to the point that they are essentially synonymous. Not long ago on one particularly cold and wet evening, I was on a bus headed to work. At one particular stop along the route, a young boy and a girl-- obviously brother and sister-- got onto the bus and immediately rushed over to a large fogged over window directly in my line of sight. While I generally prefer to write reviews rather than session reports, the review I would like to have written essentially already exists. Yet since these children played a few games in front of me, a session report seems a natural venue in which to discuss it.

At first I did not recognize what the children (who looked to be about 5 for the boy and 6 for the girl-- who was markedly taller but did not seem much older) were doing because they each started by drawing an outer square with a finger. As a child, I never bothered with an outside perimeter, just the crossed pairs of lines. When the children dew those, what they were doing became obvious. The boy got to the window first but the first game was played on a board the girl had drawn.

What I noticed in particular was that the first move was in essence random in each of the three games I observed. In the first game, the boy took a corner for the first move, in the second the girl took the center and in the third game (since she had won the second game) the girl started with a side. Clearly the importance of controlling the center had not yet occurred to either player.

The second player's first move in each game was also essentially random. I think the girl was farther along developing a sense of strategy though. For example, in two of the three games, the first and second, she took the center as her first move. Yet anyone so excited as these children both obvious were could not yet have realized that naughts and crosses will be an inevitable draw once the players have enough experience to realize how to defend.

Therein likes the point that most struck me in the games. The concept of anticipating the other player's move and playing accordingly had clearly not occurred to either child. In each game, both children played in a manner so that they were clearly anticipating what they could do next but not what the opponent could do next. Yet even that was beginning to no longer be the case as when in the third game the girl sopped the boy from taking three corners for a simple trap.

The first and third games ended in a draw. I doubt those children will play this game all that much longer but for me as a parent and as a gamer what was most fascinating was seeing a glimpse ofthose children's development of tactical and strategic thnking.

EDIT: to add:

I forgot to mention that in the second game, the boy hesitated on his last move. He was in a position where he could either in principle set himself up for a win on his next move or block the girl from winning in the immediate next move He appeared to realize instinctively something was going on but after pondering a moment he just took the move that would have allowed him to win if he got another turn. Of course he didn't and the girl won instead.
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MK
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I read in here the kernel of a dissertation on cognitive development in children/adults as demonstrated through games.
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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kimapesan wrote:
I read in here the kernel of a dissertation on cognitive development in children/adults as demonstrated through games.

Not my field but feel free to use it.
 
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Dr Caligari
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In a theoretical sense, all abstract perfect information games are like tic tac toe. There are optimal strategies that guarantee a win, or at least a draw, but mere humans cannot envision the whole game tree. Even computers only search to a certain depth.

It makes you wonder whether some imaginary outside observers with higher mental powers could watch adult humans play chess or a similar game and make observations like yours...
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