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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Connect Four - The Captain's Mistress

Connect Four, also known as Plot Four, Four in a Line, and The Captain’s Mistress, is a two player board game made popular by Milton Bradley in the mid-to-late 1970’s.

Based on Tic-Tac-Toe, Connect 4 is a simple “connect four” in a row game that adds the element of restricted placement by requiring the players to “drop” game pieces vertically down the board.

Beginners will often overlook a simple threat to connect four pieces, that’s why it’s always important to check all vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines before making a move. In more advanced play, one aims at forcing a win by making two threats simultaneously.

As a general rule of thumb, discs played in the center columns are more valuable than border column discs, because they participate in more potential four-disc lines (and accordingly limit the opponent's opportunities).

Among good players, the short term goal is to connect three discs, thereby preventing the opponent from playing in a certain column and creating a "threat" in that column. A player who manages to create two threats immediately on top of each other wins directly.

Towards the end, the game often turns into a complex counting match: both players try to win by forcing the other to play a certain column. In these situations it is useful to realize that every column has an even number of places.

Try your luck and see if you can Connect Four!

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