The Game of Tic Tac Toe — Good News, Bad News and Great News
Good news: If you play Tic-Tac-Toe the correct way, you can’t lose.
Bad News: If your opponent also knows what they are doing, you can’t win at Tic-Tac-Toe.
So, if both players are playing with the best strategy, you will always end in a tie. There may be a game won here or there because one of you just messes up a little but no one is going to be WAY better than you.
But here is the very good news…Very few people actually know Tic-Tac-Toe strategy. Most beginners just react to what the other player does.
Do not be a reactionary player.
Reactionary players just try to block their opponents three in a row, or try to take any three in a row just because they think they can they can. (Usually they can’t).
An experienced player knows the best starting moves. In almost all games, the player who goes first wins far more than the player who goes second.
Here is the first trick to winning: Always go first, and start by playing one of the 4 corners or the center square. (Usually you take turns going first so you still have a chance to win half of the games; the ones where it is your turn to move first.)
If you start by going in the center and your opponent goes in a corner your next move should be in the opposite corner.
When you don’t go first and your opponent chooses one of the corners, choose the center square.
If they choose the center square, choose one of the corners.
After that, always be trying to play so that you have two ways to make three-in-a-row. If you have two paths to three-in-a-row your opponent can only block one so you win with the other three-in-a-row.
Most Tic-Tac-Toe players who are novices (that means beginners) make random moves, or they are reactionary players who block their opponent’s three in a row, or take any three in a row that they can.
A computer programmed to play its best is never loses because it calculates all the possible moves ahead of time, so it never makes a mistake. A human can beat another human though, by using the odds to their advantage and then capitalizing on the other player’s mistakes.
Here Is How You Win (or at worst tie)
EVERY game you play
1) Always try to go first, and start by playing one of the 4 corners or the center square.
2) If the other player goes first and chooses one of the corners, choose the center square. If they choose the center square, choose one of the corners.
3) After that, do whatever you think is best to win.
Bonus Observation: An interesting side note is that if you play a normal game of tic-tac-toe with someone else and let him/her go first, they almost always start by drawing an X instead of an O. I don’t know why that is but watch and you’ll see that it is true.