Getting an edge on “battleship”

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If you have youngsters in your life, you may have had the experience of playing different games of skill and chance with them.  And though you may be taller, have many more years of experience to draw from, and are far more patient, these young competitors will not cease until you are utterly vanquished and verbally acknowledge their superiority.  I speak from experience as I have been humbled by 5 year olds on more than one occasion.

So you can imagine why the article “How to Beat Kindergartners at Battleship” caught my eye when I was perusing Chance Magazine’s website. The article does a great job of explaining the problems of both where to place your ships and how to choose where you should shoot, complete with simulations.

The key assumption here is that your opponent will not catch on to your strategies, which is why it is called “How to Beat Kindergartners in Battleship” and not “How to Beat Adults Who Get Intense About Games in Battleship”. For example, one main suggestion for placing your ships is to not allow them to touch an edge of the board. If your opponent catches on to this strategy, they know that you are effectively playing with a smaller board, and can increase their chances of hitting one of your ships. It would be cool to program simulations where your simulated opponent could learn more about you the more you play. In that case, there could be a benefit in sometimes breaking the rules of your strategy.

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