- Player X chooses a number from 1 to 9.
- Player O chooses a number from 1 to 9 that she had not picked before.
- Player O adds that number and the last number picked from X and if that square is on the board and unmarked, that square is marked O.
- Player X chooses a number from 1 to 9 that he had not picked before.
- Player X adds that number and the last number picked from O and if that square is on the board and unmarked, that square is marked X.
- Go to step 2.

Here is an example:

12 | 5 | 7 ----------- 14 | 11 | 3 ----------- 4 | 13 | 9X: picks 1, O: picks 3 (to make 4), X: 8 (11), O: 4 (12), X: 3 (7), O: 6 (9). At the point the board looks like:

O | 5 | X ----------- 14 | X | O ----------- O | 13 | ODefensively X plays 2, Y: 1, X; 1, Y:2 and whatever X plays next Y has a forced win by making 13 or 14.

Despite the simplicity this is quite a challenging game. For every initial configuration, is there always a forced draw like in real Tic-Tac-Toe or do some configurations have a forced win for X or O? How complicated is it to compute an optimal strategy?

My daughter was frustrated at how hard it is to win this game but she shouldn't be ashamed--I couldn't figure out the best strategy either. Amazing what complicated things can come out of a second-grade class.

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