Dodgem Cars: A Pretty Interesting Abstract Game

It’s a rainy holiday morning where I am and while browsing at a math forum, I came across with a pretty clever game called Dodgem. The game is really simple, but it has some interesting properties. After a couple internet search, I found out that the game was credited to Colin Vout and described the book in Winning Ways by Berlekamp, Conway and Guy. The book according to a discussion thread is the manual of the game and contains mathematical analysis about it.  Here is how the game works.

Two players are seated crosswise and play on a 3 x 3 grid.  Each player has two cars. The objective of each player is to move all the cars off the far end of the board while blocking the opponent’s cars.  The cars may only be moved forward and sideward (in respect to the player) and not backward. The cars may also not be moved to occupied grids. They may leave the board with only a forward move. The winner is the player who first has no legal move on his turn because either all his cars are off the board or blocked by the opponent’s cars. » Read more