The Hardest Easy Game

published on July 9, 2020

Vsauce Kevin here with a game so complexand so important that it's the basis foran entire five-day course on strategicthinking this is it that that's itwhere's this welcome to the El gamedeveloped by Edward de Bono over fiftyyears ago the L game was designed to be

The simplest possible game that couldstretch the players ability to find notjust any solution but the best solutionin a constantly changing environmenthere's how it works real quick thisvideo is actually sponsored by Mac

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Your first order go to Mac Weldon command enter promo code vsauce2 alllowercase I know it sounds weird but I'mgenuinely obsessed with these pants Ineed to order like six more pair so Ican wear them every single day of my

Life get these pants okay now back toour game the L game only has a handfulof pieces a very tiny board and hardlyany rules and it's deliberatelyindeterminate meaning that two perfectplayers could theoretically play forever

With no winner and there's a point tothat let's look at the board it's just afour by four grid and each player has asingle l-shaped piece that takes up fourtotal spaces there are also two neutralpieces these pennies that can be moved

By either player and we start the gameby nestling thetwo L's in the center and putting theneutral pennies in the top left and thebottom right corners so get ready to elleach player is required to move their L

Piece into a new unoccupied spot on theboard by picking it up and moving itflipping it twisting it turning itwhatever as long as it cleanly occupiesfour squares so like this or like thisnot like this or like this

It's you can't do that that doesn't workas long as at least one square is newand it doesn't overlap with the other Lpiece or a neutral spot then the move islegal after that move the player canchoose to move either neutral piece to

An open space or not it's totally up toyou whether you want to play defense butyou can't move the neutral piece beforeyou move your L the only object of thegame is to make it so that the otherplayer can't move their L piece if they

Can't move then you win like if ourpieces were in this position I couldmove my L here and the neutral piecehere and I win your L is locked in youcan't go anywhere see and that's it it'sgame over it seems so easy so how can

This game possibly take five days tomaster consider the following boardposition which de Bono uses in his 1967book five day course in thinking whichis actually three five-day courses the Lgame is just one of them I'll be player

One pink and you'll be player two orangeI only have three possible moves herelet me show you it's not that difficultto choose one right wrong choosing alegal move is easy choosing the bestmove isn't I need to think about what's

Likely to happen after I make my movewhat will you do on the next turn andkind of board position will you put mein for my next move will you playperfectly or will you make a mistakethat gives me an advantage and if that's

What I have to consider to make the bestmove what do you need to think it seemsimpossible to know and that difficultyis at the heart of de Bono's strategicthinking you can employ a few basicstrategies to survive and conquer like

Blocking off a 3×3 grid in the corner ofa board using your L and a neutral pieceand then manipulating the other neutralpiece to eliminate your opponent'spossible moves or you can think aboutthe grid as two halves and lock your

Opponent in one half of the grid thosestrategies are pretty good but they'refar from perfect let's go back to myearlier scenario given my three possiblemoves you have counter moves for eachcounters a and B both result in a loss

For me because there's just nowhere forme to put my L because remember theneutral spot can only be moved after aplayer moves the L piececounter move C is my best possible movebecause I'm not locked in I don't

Automatically lose with see the trick iswhether I can see this coming in advanceso that I can avoid taking the L allright got it three moves think ahead nobig deal but what if we have thissituation this has 195 possible moves

With only one of them being the bestthat's one out of 195 awesome given theconfines of the board there are 82possible positions for the L pieces and2296 board states altogether Debonoteaches that we should learn how to

Think about the l game by mentallyranking a movein one of four ways fatal in which youropponent wins on the next moveweek which leads you into a defensiveposition neutral which changes nothing

For either player and strong which givesyou the advantage in this board positionthere are 65 possible moves 22 are fatal17 are weak 26 neutral and 0 strong canyou consider all those possibilities andkeep track of them two or three moves

Down the line perfect play entailscollecting and evaluating every possiblemove and making the best choice based onthose results which is perfectlyimpossible even for a human mindobsessed with tetrominoes like everyone

Modern humans love tetrominoes which aregeometric shapes made of four equalsquares joined edge to edge there arefive free tetrominoes which are thebasic shapes you'll probably recognizefrom tetris the L square Z line and T

And Tetris also has two chirality z' ofthe L and the Z they can be shiftedrotated rejiggered or reflected to fitall together like in this five by eightgrid which is one of ninety ninethousand three hundred and fifty two

Ways that these pieces can fit withinthese boundaries or this four by tenrectangle which can be formed any offifty seven thousand four hundredseventy two ways using tetrominoes untilminecraft tetris was the number one

Selling game of all time because ourbrains are fascinated with geometrypuzzles and considering the unknowns afew moves ahead or one hundred thousandmoves ahead ok let's go back to L on daythree of training Debono says that a

Player can note the positions that madethem lose and the positions that madethe other player wethat mindset is simple you'll eventuallylearn to avoid the bad spots and putyourself in the good spots experience

Matters and it trains us to think but itmeans it takes time and you'll lose alot of games along the way you needstrategic principles and if you want toplay it yourself I put a link down belowto an online version of the L game it'll

Show you how many possible moves youhave in each forward State and let yourun simulation after simulation to seejust how complex this simple lookinggame really is to make sense of theimpossibility of calculating every

Possible move in real time de Bonoadvocates creating a set of severalguiding principles that can inform yourstrategy like always keeping a neutralpiece adjacent to your L piece or takingcorner positions whenever you can there

Aren't any magic answers thepossibilities here are endless but yourstrategic principles informed by yourexperience are essentially shortcuts tosuccess allowing you to avoid playing10-million l games or considering every

Single possible move the more you playand the better your mental grouping ofgame situations develops the moreaccurate your Guiding strategicprinciples will be 15 years after deBono's book came out and ego ler devised

A simple system that will guarantee aplayer at least an indefinite draw andprovide opportunities to win if theiropponent makes a mistake if you can getyour LP so that it occupies three of thefour central squares in the grid or sew

It to central squares and no neutralpiece occupies any of the squares markedX you're in good shape to not losebeyond that it's up to you to use yourstrategic thinking skills to win thegame in an academic mathematical game

You could spend a few years working outall the moves andranking their utility but in real lifewhen you're sitting across the tablefrom the other player just like you'resitting across the table from me

You can't take forever you gotta make amove and the player who can accuratelythink the farthest in advance is goingto win which is what we all do every dayin our own ways in our own lives todayis another day in our never-ending

Course on strategic thinking we don'trotate l's on a board but we do envisionthe future and alter our decisions inthe present to give ourselves the bestopportunity to succeed we break down ourlife boards into smaller more manageable

Sections and create little systems basedon what we've learned and what we'vecome to value we gain experience andmake shortcuts to give us the optimalchance to avoid l'sand manifest W's and as always thanks

For watchingI am a Ghostbuster seriously you canwatch me play a Ghostbuster in Jake'snewest vsauce3 video could you surviveGhostbusters as part of his amazing newseries could you survive the movies

Click over here to watch that myAchilles and the tortoise paradox shirtis also available in my new Vsauce 2store I have a store check out my storecheck out everything everything is greatbye

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