Good news! If you follow the strategy on this page, you will never lose another game of TicTacToe. It doesn’t matter if you are X’s or O’s. The worst that will ever happen is that the game will be a draw (tie).
The Two Most Important Points About Tic Tac Toe Strategy
Before we get into the details, here are two key points to remember.
1) If you are X, always start by taking a corner.
2) If you are O, always start by taking the center if it is open.
Now lets get into the details of how to win at Tic Tac Toe.
Player X Strategy
Player X always goes first.
Start by playing an X in any corner of the grid.
Do not start by playing an X on any side or in the center.
If O takes the center:
Place X in the corner diagonal from your original X.
If O plays in any corner, you can place an X in the only remaining corner to block. You will win the game on your next turn.
If O plays in any side square, you will need to block. At this point both players will continue to block one another and the game will end in a draw.
If O takes a corner:
Place X in either open corner. O will be forced to block you on the next turn. Then place an X in the remaining corner. You will win the game on your next turn.
If O takes a side square:
Place X in the center square. O will be forced to block you.
Then you must either:
1) Block O (if necessary) and play to a draw.
2) If you don’t have to block O, place X in the corner that is not beside an O. You will win the game on your next turn.
Player O Strategy
If X takes the center:
Place O in any corner.
From this point on you will probably need to block X from winning on each turn and force a draw.
The only situation that is different is if X plays the corner diagonal from your first O. In this case, place your second O in any corner. Now X will be forced to block you. Both players continue to block each other and the game will end in a draw.
If X takes any square except the center:
Place O in the center.
Now you will have a variety of options depending on where the second X is placed. The key will be to always block X whenever necessary, or to force X to block you without leaving two winning options.
Here is one scenario to avoid: Let’s say that X takes a corner. Then you, correctly, take the center. Then X plays the corner diagonal from his original X. Do not take a corner! You must take a side square to force X to block you.