Enter the maze

How to win at Spit-Not-So

It's quite hard to keep track of what words are going to win in a game of Spit-Not-So, unless you know this trick. Arrange the words so your opponent can't see them, in a square like this one and cross them out using an X for your moves and an O for the other player.

Spit-not-so as noughts and crosses: not-in-pan: so-spit-as: fop-if-fat

Play a few games - it's much easier to keep track of where to go - we are now just playing noughts and crosses. The two games are exactly the same - the same rules apply. The positions of the words in the square are important. They are arranged so that words containing the same letter are in a line. That means that picking three words with the same letter now involves looking for lines (a visual pattern) not reading words.

If you know how to play a perfect game of noughts and crosses, you should never be beaten at Spit-Not-So either.

Why does that make it easier to play than when the words are in a list? The difference is just that the information has been presented in a way that makes it easier for our brains to process the information - just like a GUI. Our brains are very good at seeing visual patterns - we do it with very little effort. Much less effort than searching for letters and remembering words in lists. The way that information is structured and presented to people matters. That is a reason why Graphical User Interfaces are an improvement on the old systems where information is presented and manipulated visually rather than just with words.