Never Bet Against a Tic Tac Toe Chicken

My first experience with a tic tac toe chicken was in the early nineties down in Cherokee, NC. Truthfully, the chicken is one of the only things I can remember from the whole vacation. It made quite an impression. You see, it never, ever lost.

For the longest time I believed that to be the world's one and only trained tic tac toe chicken. Just for the record, I didn't lose. But I didn't win either. So I guess that only means that I'm as smart as the chicken. Unfortunately, it could also mean the opposite. That the chicken is at least as smart as me. For years this mysterious chicken haunted me. Not to brag, but I have a pretty high IQ and the thought of being bested by a chicken really bugged me. I often longed for a rematch, but I live a long way away from Cherokee.

Casinos Get Tic Tac Toe Chickens

Then I made a discovery. Several casinos, all across the US were advertising Tic Tac Toe CSuper Smart Chicken?Credit: MorgueFile by Coopahhickens! At first I panicked. Was mankind doomed? Were the super smart chickens going to take over the world? One chicken I could put down as a freak of nature, but we were talking at least a dozen here. So I felt it my civic duty as a human being to investigate this threat to mankind's rule as dominate earth species.

The Tic Tac Toe Chicken Game Play

I checked into several of the casinos and their chickens, and I found several things in common among them. The chicken was always nested in a glass box that looked rather like a large fish aquarium. Only the front of the box was open to view. Inside the box was the chicken, its nest, and what they usually call "a thinking box". Therein lies the trick, or so I believe.

The chicken goes behind the thinking box (usually a partial wooden screen) and makes its decision on where to place the X or O. From the front of the box, you can't see just what the chicken is doing. You see the chicken move and presto, there on the computer game board is the chicken's move.

Or is it?

My Theory

Here's my theory. Tic tac toe is a zero sum game. This means that if you know what you are doing in the game, you will never lose. It also means that if you are playing against someone wTic Tac Toe BoardCredit: Wikimedia Commons by Silver Spoonho also knows what they are doing, you will never win. It's a lose-lose type of game against equal opponents. However, I refuse to allow myself to believe that a chicken is an equal opponent.

My firm belief is that you are in fact, not playing against a chicken. Or, I guess to be absolutely correct in my wording, I should say you are playing against a hungry chicken who gets fed the correct responses. Literally. How easy would it be for a computer to see your move and drop a seed or some other irresistible chicken tidbit on the correct place for the chicken to make its move? I'm thinking this would be a lot easier than training a chicken with a brain roughly the size of a marble to outthink a human. And remember, the chicken always makes its move behind the screen.

Could I be Wrong?

Sure. But boy, do I hate the thought of all those Planet of the Chickens movies! It took a long time for me to solve the mystery of the super chicken, at least to my own satisfaction. My advice to you if you ever run across a tic tac toe chicken in a casino is to walk on'll have better luck with the slots.