Have you ever asked yourself how to win at tic tac toe, otherwise known as noughts and crosses? This post will detail all the ways to succeed in the game, and soon you will always either win or draw. If you follow these simple rules, you'll never lose another game of tic tac toe again.
Tic Tac Toe Rules
The rules of tic tac toe are fairly straightforward. Below is a comprehensive list of the noughts and crosses game rules:
- The game requires two players, X and O.
- The game board is a set 3x3 grid in which players will place their symbol to claim that segment.
- X typically players first, then players alternate turns.
- The goal is to claim three segments of the grid in a row, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
- No additional sides can be added to the grid.
- The game is over either when one player achieves three segments in a row, or when the grid is filled without anyone achieving three segments in a row.
While these rules are easy to understand, the game has the potential to produce 26,830 different variations, but that includes all identical rotations and mirror images of each board. When those repetitions are removed, there are a total of 765 different outcomes for the grid.
Tic Tac Toe Tricks
There are several distinct strategies that can be employed to ensure victory when playing tic tac toe, but there are also a few simple tricks that new players can use to help their chances. Remember, this game is known as a 'solved game', which means that there is a definite strategy that can be employed to win every single time. However, if both players employ that same unbeatable strategy, the game will result in a draw every time. Here are a few tricks for new players to use:
- When playing first, claim a corner spot instead of the center spot.
- When playing second, claim the center segment if the first player did not.
- When playing second, claim a corner spot if the first player claimed the center segment.
- Always make moves based on strategy.
- Most moves will either block, win, or set up for a win on the next turn.
These are just a few of the most basic tricks for new players, but the game includes several more nuances for the final moves.
Those who might want something a bit more challenging could attempt 3D tic tac toe, which is basically like playing three individual games of tic tac toe but stacked on top of each other. This creates a 3D Tic Tac Toe where winning rows of three are possible through all three dimensions. Interestingly enough, the same rules apply, and many of the same strategies must be employed if you hope to win at this more complicated game type.
How To Win Tic Tac Toe If You Go Second
Even when going second, it is possible to still win the game, especially if the first player doesn't employ the unbeatable strategy. It is easily possible to force a draw when you play second, but winning is a bit more complicated. Here is the best strategy for winning when playing second:
- If your opponent understands the strategy of the game, they will most likely play their first move in either the center segment or a corner segment. If they do so, and they continue to play perfectly, your only option is to force a draw.
- If your opponent doesn't have a full grasp of the game rules, and they still play in either the center segment or a corner segment, it is possible to win if they make errors. Be sharp and watch for mistakes on their part.
- If your opponent plays their first move in one of the side segments, you'll have a chance to force a win. As always, play your move in the center square after they have taken the side. At this point, your victory will be determined by your opponent's move. If they place their second move in the same line as the first two moves, creating a full row or column, your next move should be to take one of the corners. If they fail to block your move, you'll win on the next turn.
It should be noted that this strategy requires at least two errors from the player who went first, so it is rare that it can be employed. In most cases, if you are playing second, your main goal is to force a tie.
How To Never Lose At Tic Tac Toe
Some players want to learn how to always win, but others simply want to know how to never lose, which in essence means they want to know how to force a tie in any situation. Forcing a tie is quite easy in this game if you know the standard blocking strategy. Here are a few of the best strategies for forcing ties:
- If you are playing first, forced ties are quite easy. They only require that the player not miss any chances to block wins from the opponent. Playing first is the best way to win as well, and losing is almost impossible with proper strategy.
- If you are playing second, your main goal is to force to a tie. Winning from the second position is quite difficult, and it requires several mistakes from the opponent. If the first player makes their first move in a corner, which is the recommended first move, the second player should take the center segment. The first player will then make their second move, and the second player should then take one of the edges. Only take a corner piece to block your opponent from getting three in a row. If that strategy is employed, a tie will certainly be reached.
- If you are playing second and the first player takes the center segment, your first move should be to take a corner. After that, the second player should only focus on blocking the first player.
How To Win Tic Tac Toe Every Time
Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that a player will win every single game of tic tac toe they play. Victory, defeat, or a draw is determined by the interaction of both players. If both players operate perfectly, a draw will always occur. The best strategies to win are:
- Attempt to go first and claim a corner segment.
- Play second and hope your opponent makes mistakes.
- Focus on blocking and looking at least two moves ahead.