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Tic Tac Toe Online for Free vs. a Computer or Multiplayer

Jeff Franklin

Published by: Jeff Franklin

Tic Tac Toe might be one of the hardest games to win. In fact, most games will end in a draw or a “cat’s game.” This just means that your victory will be that much sweeter when your opponent makes a mistake or loses concentration.

On the other hand, you’ll also have to play a perfect game and force your opponent into a tie game as well, or face defeat.

Tic Tac Toe, which is known as “Noughts and Crosses” in the UK, has been around for centuries and is still one of the world’s most popular games. These days, you don’t need to be with friends or family for a quick game; you can play Tic Tac Toe online 24/7, either against the computer or with random players from around the world.

How to Play Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe is a two-player game that is traditionally played on a 3×3 grid. One player is the X, and the other is O. The players take turns placing the X and O on the board, and if either player can get three in a row, they’ll win the game.

Tic Tac ToeX is the winner

However, if both players make the correct moves, the game will end in a tie.

Tie gameThere are no winners in this game

While Tic Tac Toe is traditionally played on a 3×3 grid, there are some variations that use a 5×5 or a 7×7 grid. Instead of getting three in a row in these games, the winning player will need to have four in a row. It’s more common for these variations to end in a win. It helps to have a strategy where you have to think a few steps ahead, similar like you need to do when playing Tetris, as it can be the difference between winning and losing or tying the game.

How to Beat Tic Tac Toe

I’ll start by talking about the winning strategy for the 3×3 game.

Going first is a huge advantage in Tic Tac Toe. It doesn’t mean that you can’t win if you go second, but your opponent will have to make a big mistake for it to happen. Generally, players take turns going first to keep it fair.

Place your first piece in a corner: Most players start by putting their first piece in the center space. It might seem like the best option because it allows you to work in all directions, but it’s also easy to block. Instead, place your piece in a corner. As long as your opponent doesn’t respond by placing their piece in the middle space, you should win the game.

In the example below, Player 1 went first and put the X in the bottom left corner. Then Player 2 put the O on the top row. Now, it’s an easy win for Player 1. It places the X in the top left corner, forcing Player 2 to place the O between the two X’s. This allows Player 1 to put the X in the middle space and create a double trap that Player 2 can’t block.

Double Trap

Don’t just focus on your move: Unlike single-player games like Spider Solitaire, in Tic Tac Toe, you have to pay attention to your opponent. One of the most common reasons for losing occurs when a player is looking at the board and only focusing on their possible moves. The odds increase that the player won’t notice what their opponent is doing and won’t block a winning move.
Play Defense: If it’s not your turn to go first, don’t try and play offense. Unlike Pac-Man, where you either win or get eaten by a ghost, a defensive tie can still feel like a win. Watch the board and prevent your opponent from springing a double trap. If the middle square is available, take it, and your odds of a tie are very good.
For a 5×5 or 7×7 game, try and get three in a row: If you’re playing on the larger Tic Tac Toe boards, the best strategy is to get three in a row with no pieces on either side. This creates an undefendable position for your opponent.

In the example below, the O can’t block the X because whichever side it picks to block, the player can win by placing an X in the other open space.

5x5 win

Now that you have some ideas for playing and winning Tic Tac Toe, here are some interesting facts about the classic game.

History of Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe, or at least some version of it, might be one of the oldest known games. Historians claim that game was first played in ancient Egypt with stones and shells found in the Nile river. Archaeologists have also found markings dating back to Rome in the first century. In that game, however, there were no ties. In the Roman game, each player had three stones to move around the board, like checkers, until someone had three pebbles in a row.

In more modern times, the game was referenced in a British scholarly journal in 1858 as Noughts and Crosses. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the game became popular in the US and was renamed Tic Tac Toe.

In 1952, Tic Tac Toe became one of the first ever computer games when a British computer scientist at the University of Cambridge developed it for the EDSAC computer. MIT students used Tic Tac Toe to demonstrate the computational power of a computer built using Tinkertoy pieces. It was able to play the game without any issues.

The first appearance of Tic Tac Toe in a movie was War Games, which was released in 1983. In an effort to try and teach the computer the concept of a no-win situation, to prevent a nuclear war, the programmers have it play Tic Tac Toe against itself. After thousands of consecutive draws, it can understand a no-win situation. This learning algorithm was then installed on the computer to prevent it from firing nukes.

FAQ

Is Tic Tac Toe really a winnable game?
Even with all these strategies listed above, you need your opponent to make a mistake in order to win. However, if they know the same strategy as you, they’ll know how to block you. Therefore, while it is a winnable game, more times than not, there is no winner.

Can you beat Tic Tac Toe on Impossible Mode?
Some versions of online Tic Tac Toe games allow you to change the level of difficulty. The computer plays smarter on higher levels. Google released a game with Impossible Mode that always makes the smart move. So far, the game has proven to be impossible to beat, and your best case scenario is walking away with a draw.

Is there a Tic Tac Toe multiplayer online game?
Yes! The version that we’re using on our site allows you to choose between playing with a friend, challenging random players online, or taking on the computer.

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Published by: Jeff Franklin

He no longer lives in his mom’s basement, but Jeff still manages to play online games whenever he has a free minute.

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Published by: Jeff Franklin

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