How to Win at Tic-Tac-Toe (Almost) Every Time

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Tic-tac-toe is supposed to be a fun, silly game — until you lose five times in a row, and then suddenly it’s very, very serious.

Look, we get it! Losing isn’t fun, no matter how low the stakes. Luckily, it’s easy to avoid losing at tic-tac-toe, as long as you know a few simple tricks.

If you’re the first one to place your X or O on the board, winning can be quite simple. Player 1 has a major advantage in tic-tac-toe — if you put your letter on any one of the four corners, you’re pretty much guaranteed to win. The one exception to that rule is if your opponent immediately puts their letter in the middle, in which case you may find yourself in a draw instead.

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If you’re Player 2, you can still win the game — or at least avoid losing. If your opponent puts their letter in the middle space, put yours in a corner. If your opponent puts their letter in a corner, put yours in a middle space. In both cases, you’ll likely tie with each other, unless somebody majorly messes up.

If your opponent starts on an edge that is not a corner, put your first letter in the center. If they put their next letter on the other edge, you can even win! If not, again, you’ll likely tie with each other.

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More tricks: If you can, take up two opposing corners. Also, if you’re not sure what to do next, try to make the board look as symmetrical as possible. This automatically helps block your opponent.

You may not be able to win every single time, but you can at least avoid losing repeatedly.