If you’ve ever played tic-tac-toe, you know it’s a game of strategy and luck. The rules are simple: there are nine empty squares on a grid, and two players take turns placing their X or O in an open square until one player has three in a row. It might seem like there is no way to win at this game, but there is an easy way to win consistently—and even if you don’t want to cheat at tic-tac-toe, knowing about this method may help you understand why some people do.
Aim to take the center square.
The most significant square is the middle one. This is the only square captured on your first move and the superior court that can be blocked immediately by your opponent. It’s also a great place to start if you’re trying to win in three moves or fewer—place your mark there, then move on to another of your prints.
Finally, remember that it’s best to spread out your tactics when playing tic-tac-toe against an experienced opponent who knows how to defend against them. If they can block one of your lines before you complete it, then there might not be any other way for you to win this game (at least without making several moves).
Pick up on your opponent’s mistakes.
You should pick up on your opponent’s mistakes and take advantage of them. If your opponent makes a mistake, try to take advantage of it by ensuring they can’t get the next move in.
You don’t want to make the same mistake twice or give away too many free points! Be careful not to be too conservative or vigilant when you have an opportunity for victory. Don’t let your greediness cost you the win, either!
In addition, don’t overdo any one strategy because this will make it easier for your opponent to predict what kind of moves you are going for next time.
Learn the X’s winning moves.
In a tic-tac-toe game, X’s can win in the center, bottom, top, and left/right corners. They can also win if they have three in a row going across horizontally or vertically.
X’s should always keep their eyes open for opportunities to make these moves as soon as possible. A good strategy is to try and get an X in one of those spots the first chance you get because then your opponent will be forced into making suboptimal plays that are less likely to lead to victory for them.
Learn the O’s winning moves.
There are only two winning moves for the O’s:
- Winning in the middle of the board. You have won the game if you play your X’s on either side of an empty square that is not diagonal from any other Xs or O’s. This should be easy to remember because it works for both players.
- Winning in a corner. If you are playing against an opponent who likes to play their X’s on either side of an empty square that is diagonal from other X’s and O’s (but not diagonal from yet another X), this is your chance to win!
Tic-tac-toe is a game where whoever goes first has a huge advantage.
Tic-tac-toe is a game where whoever goes first has a huge advantage. It’s probably the most played game in the world, and if you’ve ever played it, you know that whoever goes first usually has a significant advantage. If they don’t make their move right away, they lose their opportunity to win before their opponent even gets started!
The second player also has an advantage because they can see where the first player likely went with their first move and use that knowledge to make better choices than they could have otherwise made (they might not even need to see where they chose). The third player has another advantage over these other players because s/he knows what both of them did before s/he got started. And on and on it goes…
If you want to play tic-tac-toe and win, you should remember not to be too aggressive with your first move. For example, going for the center square on the first turn could give away your strategy and allow your opponent to win easily. Instead, try playing in a corner or making an X shape by connecting two opposite corners on your first turn, so they don’t know where you’ll go next.