Well the "front" part isn't what puzzles me, just wondering why the gasket covers the front water passages from block to head (the back passages are open). Guess I'll just put it on and see what happens. Thanks for the replies!
The heads have the water passeges in front and back to make them interchangeable (one size fits all). There are no functioning water jackets in the front of the engine ... thus the reason 2 are "blocked off".