I still remember the night that I found my true passion in a Phnom Penh bar of questionable repute. It was my second trip to Cambodia, and I heard about a new “hostess bar” that had recently opened in town. I went for a look, not really knowing what a “hostess bar” was.
Okay, I had a pretty good idea there would be slutty women there. Because I arrived at around 5pm, the girls (who looked wondrously slutty, by the way) were mainly sitting behind the bar and eating fruit, looking quite bored. I sat down and ordered a beer.
For the first time in my life, I soon found myself in that erotic conversational tango between Asian bargirl and Western barfly: “Hello/How are You?/What Your name?/Where you come from?/How long you stay?/You come on holiday?”
At the time, I struggled to understand my inquisitor’s heavily accented English and to give simple, easily understood responses. Three years and hundreds of eerily similar conversations later, I have, of course, now memorized this pattern dialogue forward, backward, and in several languages, including its original Sanskrit.
At least I assume that’s how Marco Polo first heard it. My interrogator then asked “You want to play game?” Whenever an attractive woman asks me “Do you want to play a game,” I always say yes, hoping she might propose a quasi-sexual game, like “Doctor,” “Strip Poker,” or “Pet the Frightened Turtle.” You can imagine my disappointment when I soon heard the maracas-like shaking of game pieces, and my hostess emerged from under the bar with a very un-sexy children’s game – Connect Four. Connect Four is un-sexy on several levels. It’s plastic. Plastic isn’t sexy. Leather, silk, satin, and rubber can all be sexy under the right circumstances, like if a chick wearing one of these, uh, makes out with another chick. Plastic, however, is never sexy.
I’ll bet that in the entire history of Penthouse Forum, the word “plastic” has never been used, except perhaps to begin a submission with “I never thought a story like this could happen to a boring plastics salesman from Detroit, but I swear it’s all true.”
Moreover, the American version of Connect Four comes in a box depicting a young boy playing against, of all people, his sister. Yuck. The old TV commercials promoting the game also famously showed a nerdy kid losing to his prudish sister and then saying “Pretty sneaky, Sis.”
I’m quite sure that at no point during the commercial did the kid’s sister provocatively offer, “You win I give you one kiss.” That would have been creepy. Anyway, my point is that sisters, like plastic, are inherently un-sexy; although mine does have a rather nice ass.
One might therefore wonder how a sexless game marketed to puritanical 1970″s American children has now become a popular mating ritual between Asian whores and their potential johns. Well, believe it or not, like pasteurization, the steam engine, and the Spice Girls, Connect Four was not actually invented in America. We know this because the oldest versions of the game actually predate the arrival of white dudes in America, and no famous American Indians were named “PlaysFourinaRowDiagonal.”
In an antique version of the game, players rolled coloured hardwood balls down a smart looking grid of wooden chutes. This version of the game is known as “The Captain’s Mistress.” This unusual name originates from the fact that Captain Cook would spend so much time in his cabin that his crew joked that he must have a mistress.
The crew later found out that he was passing the time playing this game with ship’s scientists. All of that sounds quite gay to me, but if Captain Cook and his fellow sailors enjoyed spending long hours in his cabin drinking red wine and playing with their hardwood balls, I’m not one to judge. I do, however, have a rather homophobic personal rule that I will never play Connect Four with another guy. I will only play with giggly young Asian women, or, at a pinch, with a convincing ladyboy.
Now, back to my first hostess bar visit. I was quite confident that, although I had not played Connect Four in about 25 years, I could still outwit an uneducated 19 year old Cambodian girl who apparently had not yet even learned to close her mouth while chewing a mango.
We began to play. To her delight, she won in about seven moves. We played again and again, and I lost again and again, not just to her, but to all the other girls in the bar.
I stumbled out of the bar several hours later and many wagered lady drinks poorer, vowing to never again let Asian bargirls outsmart me at anything.
Returning home from my trip, I endeavoured to improve my play. I started by reading about a few common Connect Four openings.
The hardest part of this process was getting over the ridiculousness of learning that someone has actually written stuff about common Connect Four openings. I then began playing a rather simple Connect Four computer simulator.
I started at the simulator’s “Kindergarten” level and ultimately advanced to Connect Four “High School,” where, like in real life, I had a lot of trouble getting laid. I tried to read, but had trouble understanding, long academic treatises by MIT scientists with imposing titles like “Expert Play in Connect Four,” “A Knowledge Based Approach to Connect Four,” and “Optimal Connect Four Strategies for Total Losers Like You.”
I purchased my own Connect Four game and occasionally set it up on my kitchen table, so that I could better visualize the key “problems” illustrated in these treatises, since I’m apparently too dense to follow the treatises’ black and white illustrations.
I must also confess that I have recently joined an online games community, where I can practice Connect Four against other dorks from around the world.
My guess is that none of my computer opponents are skanky Asian women, although for some annoying reason they all ask for my “asl” at the beginning of each match, which I think is the computer nerd version of ponderous pre-match bargirl small talk.
Once I fully appreciated much strategy is really involved in Connect Four, I grew to love playing the game. After developing sufficient skill at the computerized versions, I triumphantly returned to the bars of Southeast Asia to show off my techniques against live, promiscuous opponents.
I have since taken my barnstorming Geek Show to hostess and beer bars throughout Thailand and Cambodia, from Phuket to Chiang Mai, from Pattaya to Phnom Penh, from Sihanoukville to Kampong Saom. There is no denying that my play has improved dramatically. I can now win most of the time, unless I’m very drunk or distracted by cleavage.
As a result of my newfound skill, bargirls who previously saw me as a fun-loving rube now suspiciously view me as a creepy guy who “thinks too mut” and is strangely obsessed with winning a silly childrens’ game. I think that’s an improvement. I offer the following tips so that you, too, can sharpen your play, and overcompensate for your inadequacies by exerting intellectual superiority over impoverished Asian bargirls.
1. Choose your opponent wisely You can find a Connect Four match at just about any hostess bar in Phnom Penh, with the notable exception of Shanghai Bar, which must be run by some kind of bigoted anti-Connect Four-ite. Selecting an opponent is quite simple.
If you want to win, you should try to play against young, good looking hostesses who appear fresh from the countryside and new to the bar scene.
This is quite convenient, because these are usually the same girls you’ll be interested in doing sex to later. Young, pretty bargirls are like the wounded gazelles of the bar’s Connect Four-playing herd. They invariably have no skill whatsoever, and you should be able to win almost every game.
The corollary to this rule is that old, fat, ugly bargirls are always the best players.
This is a Darwinian adaptation. They become skilled at Connect Four as means of hustling lady drinks that are essential to their survival, since few men will pay for their company. The girl pictured below, for example, is not to be trifled with. 2. Always play first in the middle column Once you have selected a beatable opponent, the most important thing to do in any Connect Four match is to play first.
Mathematicians have “solved” Connect Four as a “first player win” game. This means that if two expert, perfectly geeky players are pitted against one another, the one who goes first will win every single time.
There is great advantage to playing first, because each move places you one move ahead of your opponent, i.e., on your 15th move, your opponent has only played 14 times. This makes it much more likely that you’ll line up four in a row before your opponent does. The same mathematical principle applies to games of Russian Roulette, where you should always politely offer to go last.
Fortunately, when you play Connect Four with Asian bargirls, you will always be able to play first. The girls always set the game up for you, submissively using their nimble little fingers to segregate the coloured chips in the tray, never asking you to help with this task.
Drop your first chip while they’re still setting up. By the time they are ready to play, you’ve already moved. You can do this again and again at the start of each game, and an Asian girl will just smile and go along with it.
This would never work with Western broads. They would make bitchy comments like “Why don’t you set it up?” “I’m not doing all the work” or “No way, you went first last game, pencil dick!” At least that’s what my sister used to say. When you play first, always play in the middle column. If your opponent plays her chip on top of yours, you should play right on top of her, and repeat this again if possible. Occupying spaces high up in the middle column is very advantageous later in the game.
This common mutual strategy of playing pieces on top of your opponent in the middle column is like the “missionary position” of Connect Four openings. It’s boring, but effective. 3. Plan to win the in the correct row.
This is where a bit of maths comes into play, so bear with me. Whenever two reasonably skilled players square off, they are usually able to rebuff each other’s early efforts to line up four in a row, and the game often lasts until almost all the board”s spaces are filled. One column usually becomes “poison” for one or both players, because someone (or both) has lined up a three chip “threat” to this column, which will result in victory once his or her opponent plays another chip in this column.
Both players wisely avoid this column for the remainder of the game, and the rest of the board fills up around this column, until the “end game,” when someone is forced to play in the empty or partially empty “poison” column, resulting in victory for the other player.
A novice player may think that the end game winner “got lucky.” Not so. A skilled player knows that there are seven vertical columns and six horizontal rows on the board, 42 total spaces. Whoever plays first will be in the “odd” position when filling up the board — i.e., he plays the 1st chip to hit the board, the 3rd chip, etc. Player Two will play the board’s 2nd chip, 4th chip, and of course its 42nd, final chip. At the end of the game, when six columns (36 spaces) are full, Player One’s pieces will land in the odd rows of the final column (the 1st, 3rd and 5th rows). Player Two’s pieces will land in the even rows.
This is also true even if only four or five columns are full, since each column has an even number of spaces (six). So, as a general rule, near the end of the game, Player One’s chips will generally land in odd rows, with Player Two’s chips in the even rows. This means that if you are Player One, you usually want to place your chips and line up your “threats” what will be the winning rows for you – the odd rows (3rd and 5th).
If you are unfortunate enough to be Player Two, you want to try to line up winning threats in the even rows (2nd, 4th and 6th). Threats in even rows are less valuable for Player One, and threats in odd rows are less valuable for Player Two. If you know these rules, and you line up your chips properly early in the game, you can smugly sit back, and (assuming you don’t cock up the game somewhere else) just patiently wait to win in the end game when the final chips fall.
Extra style points should be awarded if you’re Player Two and you orchestrate your victory to occur with the very last piece of the game in the 6th (top) row, which usually elicits a lot of “Oohs” and “Aahs” from spectators and a few obscenities from your opponent. However, before employing this crowd pleasing strategy, you should make sure that the bar actually has all the game pieces needed to completely fill the board. Otherwise, you may come up a few pieces short, leaving you to desperately finger fuck the last few holes in an effort to claim your victory, which is very uncool.