Surviving the holidays – with Connect Four

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Connect Four is one of those games for the ages.  I personally believe it is one of those staple presents, one that is dug out every few years as filler around Christmas Time, or is a game that always seems to come out at “Grandma’s House”.  Ultimately, its a game that leads to frustration due to its simplicity, and of course….losing to an 11 year old.

While I cannot say for certain that I got my first copy of the game when it was released by Milton Bradley in 1974, I vividly recall playing the game for hours with my brother during the Blizzard of 77. Of course, when we played, we often inserted the “Pretty Sneaky Sis” comment to taunt each other, a taunting that ultimately lead to Mom putting the game away for the day.  Ahhhh, the joys of my youth.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving Weekend, where I recently played this game with James.  When challenged, I thought my “vast experience” would easily trump his mathematical genius.  Boy was I wrong.  To say he smoked me 10 out 10 is an understatement.  While I do not believe he realizes there are 1,905,333,170,621 ways to win – he still dismantled me fairly handily. It was embarrassing.

Licking my wounds, I did what any respecting father would do in this information age?  I went to the internet and see if anyone has figured out the perfect strategy.  Luckily for me, the fine folks at Numberphile had me covered – and within no time, I knew to always go to the middle and avoid the edges to start.

Now you too can know the secret to Connect Four – because in this day and age, we parents must all stick together.

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