How to Win Tic Tac Toe: Rules You Should Follow to Win

how to win tic tac toe
December 15, 2020

Perchance, you have heard “Tic Tac Toe” and even played it on several occasions. However, if you don’t know it by this name, there are other titles, like Xs and Os or noughts and crosses. 

Does that ring a bell? Yes, it does. 

Most people love this game and play it with their family members, friends, or even solo. There is no doubt that Tic Tac Toe requires a high degree of mental fortitude. And what do we mean by this statement?

You have to be calculative at all times – always figuring out your next move and that of your opponent. On this note, it shares the same similarities with the Chess board game. 

Interestingly, you can either play it on paper, a board with cut-out shapes depicting the Xs and Os, or even play it online. Whichever the case may be, there is no denying that this game is exciting to most players.

As an avid game player, you may be pondering on how to win the Tic Tac Toe game, especially when playing this game against well-seasoned players or a top Tic Tac Toe computer. 

This guide contains everything you need to know about beating your opponents, hands down. And if you are conversant with the online version of the game, you may have come across Google’s Tic Tac Toe Impossible and even played it without any success. 

We will also cover that aspect in this guide.

What is Tic Tac Toe?

For those who don’t know what the Tic Tac Toe game is, it involves a blank space on which two parallel lines intersect with another set of two parallel lines to form a cross pattern. 

There are two players for this game, depending on whether you are playing against another individual or the computer. To win, a Tic Tac Toe player has to select either X or O, and match three letters, all of which are the same, in parallel; this can be either across the pattern or diagonally.

tic tac toe

To explain better, if you decide to go with the letter X, that means that your opponent has to stick with the other one – O. You can start the game by placing your piece in any cell of the pattern. 

There are nine Tic Tac Toe cells in all. Each player makes a move and alternate in-between. So, when you place X in, let’s say the middle compartment, your opponent can place O in the mid-left-hand cell of the game.

These moves continue until both players fill up the whole cells, with no winner, or until one of them matches the game pieces in parallel, just like the figure on the right side of the image above. 

Most people love this game as it is highly interactive and fun to play once they have mastered the techniques behind it. However, not everyone knows how to play Tic Tac Toe. Here is where this guide comes into play.

But before we go into Tic Tac Toe rules, strategies, and the likes, we should discuss Tic Tac Toe online and board versions. So, please stay as we dig further into this exciting game world.

What You Should Know About Tic Tac Toe Board Games

For those individuals who have been avid Tic Tac Toe players for a long time, it is evident that they started with the board games before some of them moved on to the online version. 

The board version features either a wooden or metal material with cut-out pieces of Xs and Os, which players have to place in any of the cells accordingly. The first individual to match all three parts wins the game.

There is also a chance of both players ending in a tie or a draw.

draw position

Once the scenario above occurs, both players have to start again. Additionally, it is worth noting that the game can be played on a piece of paper. 

However, you have to manually draw the parallel, intersecting lines and characters to play Tic Tac Toe. The downside to this game style is that it takes a lot of space; hence, you would be wasting several sheets of paper, leaving behind bigger environmental footprints.

How About the Tic Tac Toe Online Game?

Board games have their limitations, which, to an extent, are negligible. For example, you have to set up the Tic Tac Toe board game before playing. And when you are done with your friends, you also need to have everything in place, exactly where they belong. 

Although not a big deal to most people, this activity can take a toll on your time.

On the other hand, the online version provides players with convenience. Besides, unlike the board version, you can play Tic Tac Toe against other people remotely, or even against the computer. 

game play

It takes less time to get the game up and running. And it gets more interesting; you can save your gameplay and continue from your previous session when needed.

You are to adhere to specific rules when playing against an opponent, regardless of you being a fan of the online game or board version.

Tic Tac Toe Rules You Should Follow

Every game has its rules; the same applies to Tic Tac Toe. To enjoy the Tic Tac Toe game, you have to abide by these guidelines, some of which have been discussed before. However, for the sake of clarity, this section summarizes this topic as follows:

  • The game comprises nine cells (3×3)
  • The player with X makes the first move.
  • Each individual takes turns while playing the game.
  • The first person to match all three pieces in line wins
  • The game continues until there is a win or a draw (a cat game)

These rules are simple to follow. However, it would help if you had a strategy to win, especially when playing against a professional.

Tic Tac Toe Strategy

Tic Tac Toe sits on the list of solved online and board games. What do we mean by this statement? Solved games have predictable outcomes based on the player’s position, provided both individuals play perfectly. 

So, what is the result of this type of gameplay? You guessed right – a tie. 

However, if you play against someone with little or no experience, mistakes are bound to happen, which will give you a winning edge. So, is there a strategy on how to always win Tic Tac Toe?

In this section, we have discussed the ideal Tic Tac Toe strategy that will improve your game style and make you a formidable opponent. Does that sound like a great idea? Sure, it does. 

Ace the game with this Strategy

So, let’s proceed. The first part of the strategy is to start first.

Do you know that going first gives you a double chance of beating your opponent? Of course, this means that you have to choose X as your piece. But that is not all; you have to think of placing your mark on the board strategically. 

In this case, it will be best for you to steer clear of the game board edges, and go with either the center or corners.

Keep an eye on your opponent’s moves. If you are the second player, here is a Tic Tac Toe strategy to help you win or draw a tie. Should your opponent make the first move on the center cell, you have to go for any of the corners, and vice-versa.

There are chances that your opponent will likely make a move to get all three pieces in a row. Once you discover that, ensure that you block the cell that seals the win. 

You wouldn’t want the other guy to defeat you. It is better to end up in a tie than to lose the game.

How to Win Tic Tac Toe every time

At this point, your thoughts are on how to win Tic Tac Toe every time you play Tic Tac Toe against a friend or the computer. For this reason, we have included a box, with nine cells, representing the game. Each of the cells is numbered one to nine to aid comprehension.

tic tac toe math

When you play your piece in any corner of the box (1, 3, 7, 9), you give your opponent the chance to make mistakes. And if the individual responds by choosing any of the sides (2, 4, 6, 8), you are sure to win the game. 

However, if your opponent selects the center (5), you have to wait for the person to make a mistake before you can win the game, or else, it ends with a tie.

Let’s assume that you picked cell 1 and your opponent settled for cell 5; you can choose cell 3. If the other person does not counter your move by selecting cell 2, you have to select either cell 7 or cell 9 to win the game, depending on whichever one is available. 

By doing so, you have a two-way winning chance. Place the last piece on cell 2, cell 4, or cell 6 (based on availability) to match three in a row.

More tips to Win Tic Tac Toe 

There is another way to win Tic Tac Toe every time. If you place your first piece in any of the corner cells and your opponent responds with a mark on the sides of the board (2,4,6,8), you can make your next move on the extreme corner of the first piece row or column. 

For example, if your first selected cell is cell 1, your next cell number should be either cell 3 or cell 7.

Whereby your opponent fails to play at the center to counter your move, go for the same spot (cell 5). By doing so, you have a two-way winning advantage over the other person. This strategy shows you how to win Tic Tac Toe every time.

If you still don’t understand the concept surrounding how to beat Tic Tac Toe, you can always force a tie when the game ends. 

You can make this happen when the other person starts at the corners or the center. For any of the corner cells (1,3,7,9), respond by placing your first piece at the center and second on edge (2,4,6,8), unless there is a need to counter the other person (go with the remaining corners). 

With this guideline, you can play Tic Tac Toe against anyone and win or draw.

Are There Other Variants Out There?

If you want to learn how to play Tic Tac Toe on a professional level, you have to know several game variations, including:

  • 3D Tic Tac Toe
  • Notakto
  • Misere Tic Tac Toe
  • Unrestricted n-in-a-row
  • Quixo
  • Numerical Tic Tac Toe
  • Word Tic Tac Toe
  • Quantum Tic Tac Toe
  • Check Lines
  • SOS
  • Treble Cross
  • Quick Tic Tac Toe
  • Revenge n-in-a-row
  • Random Turn Tic Tac Toe
  • Wild Tic Tac Toe

These games have their rules to guide you on how to play Tic Tac Toe variations. It is worth mentioning that they throw more light on how to always win Tic Tac Toe, regardless of whatever variant you play.


Having read and understood the Tic Tac Toe areas covered in this comprehensive guide, we are sure that you’ve gained significant knowledge required to increase your skills and boost your confidence to consistently win your opponents. 

It is time for you to go out there and smash it! You can try several variations with family and friends to enjoy the game better.

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