Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Different types of reasoning

I have shared before about my passion for cryptic crossword puzzles, codewords and other word games. But there are other games, too. And these I'm not so great at.

I enjoy Hexic, which presents you with a honeycomb of multicoloured hexagons, which you must manipulate to form clusters of three or more which then disappear from the screen. There's more to it than that with starflowers and black pearls to be earned. My spatial skills are not great, so I have never achieved a black pearl.

I also like to play Rotate Mania, which presents you with a grid of squares split into coloured sections (two, three or four colours). You must once again manipulate these to group together four or more quarters of the same colour and eliminate them from the board. The aim is to clear the board. I have never achieved that. Not once! A significant plus to this game (for me) is that it isn't timed! I hate it when a game starts counting down. I panic and don't achieve anything further.

But the game I am worst at is the one that is apparently responsible for the fact that the most common demographic for online gamers is middle-aged women: Bejeweled (heck, I even struggle with the fact that it only has one L!). Sheesh, was there ever anyone so sucky at a game? In this version, you get one minute. One. And the last 15-20 seconds or so involve a countdown. So I get 45 seconds (unless I remember to mute the sound). In this game, you have to switch 'jewels' around to create rows or columns of three or more, which explode and disappear from the board. I just can't see them. Sometimes, even when I click hint and the little arrow points at a jewel I should move, it still takes me valuable seconds to figure out what to do with it.

I wonder if this blind spot has any bearing on the fact that I also sucked at geometry at school, and am hopeless at chess. I knew the geometry theorems and could do the 'proofs' for those. But I couldn't look at a complex diagram and apply the kind of reasoning necessary to know that all the factors working together mean that angle C=97˚. Similarly, I know how each chess piece moves. I know the principles. I know about things like pinning and castling and that kind of stuff. But I can't devise a strategy in which all the pieces work together to capture the opponent's king while protecting my own. I can't think three moves ahead and play purely reactively, getting my *ss handed to me every time.

I'm much the same when it comes to pool. I can't plan what I'm going to do next and play the cue ball so that it winds up in the right spot for the next shot. I can only play one ball at a time and have to re-assess the table each time I pot one.

I've never been able to figure out which kind of -uctive (ad-, ab-, de- and in-) reasoning is which. All the explanations sound the same to me. As well as involving spatial awareness, do these situations all involve one of those -uctions? And, if so, which one?

Even some of the word games seem to fall into this hole. For example. I am hopeless at Scramble!

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