Tic-tac-toe, diversion and strategy

So, you’re interested in learning a bit about tic-tac-toe! The rules aren’t complicated. However, it can be a fun diversion with another person requiring you to think just a bit.

 

First, the rules of tic-tac-toe

When playing tic-tac-toe, decide with your partner who will be ✖ and who will be ੦. Alternate marking your symbol, either the ✖ or ੦, on a 3×3 grid. Traditionally ✖ goes first, but doesn’t have to. The first person to mark three in a row—vertically, horizontally, or diagonally—wins.

Tic-Tac-Toe grid

This is the grid. Sounds simple so far, right?

Now the strategy

You don’t have to plan as far ahead as you would in chess, but you do have to plan. After all, there are only nine places to play. However, here is an example of why you need to think ahead.

The game starts with the first ✖ going into the top left position. The next person puts an ੦ into the center, with the next ✖ going into the bottom right position. This is the game as it stands.

Tic-Tac-Toe first three moves

If the next move is to place an ੦ in either corner, ✖ should win.

Tic-Tac-Toe first four moves

To block the win by ੦, the ✖ will go in the bottom left corner. That means that no matter where the ੦ goes next, ✖ has a way to win. ੦ can’t block it.

Tic-Tac-Toe first five moves

For example, let’s say that ੦ goes next to center left. Then ✖ wins by going to the bottom center.

Tic-Tac-Toe seven moves

While you don’t have to think out 5 moves in advance as you would in chess, you have to engage your mind a bit to avoid giving the game to your partner. That is what keeps this from becoming boring.

Not overly complicated, yet still something to relieve some boredom. That is tic-tac-toe.


The cover picture is a playing board for kōnane found at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park taken by me in June 2018.

The picture below was taken in Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi , at a hamburger shop in a mall. The quote is a Reader’s Digest books version of a quote from a book by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) in the short story collection Seven Gothic Tales.

The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears, or the sea. As seen in Kailua-Kona Hawaii