“Arrange numbers 1 to 9 on a tic tac toe board so that the sum of each row, column and diagonal is 15”
Tic Tac Toe Board ? Hmmm…
Circa 25th August, 2009.
Not a big deal, one might say. But things happen differently when your mind is occupied someplace else.
When I switched from a computing problem that I could not solve to this puzzle my mind was actually thinking something else. It was busy trying to extract an algorithm for the computing problem. So things did not quite come naturally when I read “Tic Toe Board”.
Here’s what I thought – Hmmm. Tic tac toe board. Hmm. I have definitely heard of this “tic tac toe” earlier. Yes, I have. But it’s a board. A tic tac toe board. Hmm. What does a tic tac toe board look like ? Could it be a wooden board ? Hmm. Or is it a cube sort of a thing ? Now how can diagonals run through this cubical board or any board ? I have no idea. Lets move to the next question.
So I wrote down there – “I have no idea what a tic tac board is. Sorry.”
Having finished with whatever little I had to offer in the test I came out. Just then I was called back into the test room. Mr. Ratra was holding my test paper and he looked at me with puzzled eyes and said, “Vaibhav you don’t know what a tic tac toe board is ? “. I confidently said, “No sir”. “It’s a 3 by 3 board vaibhav. Ok you try again. You have 5 more minutes. ” 5 more minutes ? Yes ! Maybe I can somehow solve that computing problem now. But let me first quickly think about this tic tac toe “board” again. I thought and somehow the noun “board” kept the image of a wooden board recurring in my “visual studio”. How can diagonals run through a wooden board ? So i again wrote down there – “Still not getting it. Sorry.” And I went back to my computing problem. But there also I could not have much luck.
When I came out, a guy was sitting ( in formals ) on a sofa. He had also take the test ( like me ) and was probably saddened by the fact that I might have done better than him ( it was an off-campus placement drive dude ) . But I assured him otherwise and then he felt a little better ! By the way, he was a computer science graduate from Australia. “No placements there ?”, I asked and he said that they prefer the natives. Hmm. That’s some racial abuse I guess. Anyways, I turned to this guy and said, “Dude, by any chance, do you know what a tic tac toe board is ?”. And he looked at me surprisingly and said, “You don’t know what a tic tac toe board is ? “. I said, “No”. He shook his head at the “native” indian stupidity and said to me in “hindi” – “Kabhi zero katta nahi khela kya ?” . Pause. Pause. “What the……? “. Pause. “WHAT WAS I THINKING ?”, I shouted at myself and he started smiling at me in sympathy. I was so ashamed ! Ya, ashamed with a capital ‘A’. The purpose of my visit had changed now. From “get a placement” it had become “save your image”. I just wanted to run from there and hide in a corner of the world where people are not aware of things like “tic tac toe” . Then my comments kept haunting me –
“I have no idea what a tic tac toe board is. Sorry.
Still not getting it. Sorry.”
What would these people think of me ? I didn’t know what to think or expect. I would not have been surprised if they had kicked me out with a stern warning – “Never be within 500 metres of this company or we’ll shoot you.”
But none of that happened. These good people somehow figured out that I knew some computers too and took a chance on me.