Sep 6, 2011

Mapping Tic Tac Toe-dom

Writer Ian Frazier made a startling discovery several years ago in eastern Siberia: no one he met there had ever heard of tic tac toe. In this short, Jad and Robert wonder how a game that seems carved into childhood DNA could be completely unknown in some parts of the world.

When Ian Frazier was a kid, he (like most 6-year-olds) mastered the art of tic tac toe. Pretty soon, every match was a draw, and the game lost its magic.

Then one day, many years later, he met a 6-year-old named Igor who lived deep in Siberia. On a whim, Ian drew a tic tac toe board in his notebook and showed it to Igor...who had no idea what it was. Ian taught him how to play, then joyfully went about clobbering his new opponent.

Then, Ian started asking around...and it turned out none of the Russians he talked to had heard of tic tac toe. Could it be that huge swaths of the globe just didn't play? Jad and Robert wanted to find out just how widespread this seemingly universal game really is--so they rallied listeners from all over the world to help them do some legwork.

Ian Frazier's most recent book is Travels in Siberia.

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