Tic-tac-toe (classic and variants with previous challenge and by teams)

Number of players
Recommended age
Competition type
1 vs.1, Two teams
Playing time
-3 min
Very easy
Cost or investment

Brief description of the game

Tic-tac-toe is a basic one-on-one strategy game. Each player draws a symbol alternately and the first player to match three of his symbols wins.
Table of contents
tres en raya con tres objetos

How to play “Tic Tac Toe”

Things you need to know before starting to play

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Number of players

2 players because it is a one-on-one game 5 years and older

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What do you need to play

The game requires that a grid be drawn and that players can select and mark as their own some of the squares in that grid.

Pencil and paper are the most common, but there are infinite possibilities:

Tres en raya en la playa
Tres en raya en el parque
Tres en raya en pizarra
Tres en raya con piedras

Create the grid

Draw the game board: a grid with 3 rows and 3 columns.

Choose symbols

Each player must choose a symbol (usually crosses or circles) or a different object for each player.

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Who’s first?

Que empiece el jugador más inexperto o el más joven. Luego podéis ir alternando en cada partida.

Goal of the game

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What do you need to do to win?

The winner is the player who manages to match three of the same symbols, regardless of whether they are horizontal, vertical or diagonal.

Rules of Tic-Tac-Toe


There is little to explain: each player takes turns drawing his symbol on one of the empty squares. Check out this video.

Game over. Who wins?

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And the winner is…

If a player manages to line up three of his symbols -whether vertically, horizontally or diagonally- he becomes the winner and the game is over.

…or not is

The game ends in a draw when there are no more squares to place symbols and none of the players has managed to align three symbols.

Tips for playing “Tic Tac Toe”

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Draw, draw, draw…

If both players know how to play, the games always end in a draw.

It will be time to try a similar game a little more difficult called OSO or add a bit more action to the game with some of the variants explained below.

Variations of Tic-Tac-Toe

Tic-tac-toe variants with only three objects

When playing tic-tac-toe with pen and paper, the game is irremediably over when all the squares on the board have been painted with one symbol or another.

But if objects are used to mark the positions, this changes.

Variant 1 – Tic-tac-toe with three objects with no limit to the number of movements

The first three turns are played in the same way as in classic tic-tac-toe. And what happens when the three own objects are already on the board? In the following turns -and in a mandatory way- an own object will be changed of position.

The game continues until one of the players manages to make their three in a row.

Variants of tic-tac-toe in which a challenge must be overcome to get a turn.

Instead of alternating turns, both players play at the same time and can make a tic-tac-toe move immediately after overcoming a skill challenge.

Variant 2 – Flip a glass and tic-tac-toe

Each player has a paper or plastic cup, both identical to avoid comparative grievances and so that the loser has no excuse if he/she has a bad loss 😉.

Players place their glass face down on the edge of the table – on which the tic-tac-toe is also prepared – with one or two fingers sticking out from the edge and tapping it from below must make the glass spin in the air and land on its feet. Each time the challenge is achieved, a move can be made in tic-tac-toe.

Variant 3 – Flip a bottle and tic-tac-toe

Each player has a plastic bottle with water occupying approximately one third (33%) of the bottle’s capacity.

With the bottle in hand, they make a wrist movement to throw it upwards and after a spin in the air it lands standing on the table where the tic-tac-toe game is set up. Each time the challenge is achieved, a move can be made in tic-tac-toe.

By changing the challenge for any other you can create dozens of other variants.

Team variations of tic-tac-toe

Yes, you can also play tic-tac-toe by teams.

The previously explained challenge variants can easily be converted into team games in which the team members take turns to overcome the challenge and make their move in tic-tac-toe.

But there are variants that can only be played by teams.

Variant 4 – Tic-tac-toe with relay race

A large tic-tac-toe board is created on the floor, with each square measuring at least 50cm.

Each team has three objects of the same color that they will use as a team symbol to play tic-tac-toe. Each team, logically, is assigned a different color. You can use handkerchiefs, cups, paper balls… any object of which at least three units are available for each team.

Some object is also needed to serve as a witness for relays. It could be a bottle, a wooden stick, a utensil… although the marker can also be dispensed with and replaced by a hand clap between the incoming player and the outgoing one.

The players of both teams are placed at a distance of 5 to 10 meters from the tic-tac-toe board.

All the players shout: three! two! one! GO! the players who make the first relay run to the tic-tac-toe board with the witness and one of the team’s objects and when they arrive they make their tic-tac-toe move to run back to the starting position and hand over the witness to the next team member, who will do the same with the second object.

And what happens when the three team items are already on the board? In the following relays -and in a mandatory way- some of the team’s own objects must be changed from one square to another.

The game continues relay after relay until one of the two teams gets its three in a row.

Games like “Tic Tac Toe”

The natural evolution of tic-tac-toe on pencil and paper is a game called OSO, which is more difficult and fun. Don’t know it? We encourage you to discover and test it.

Connect 4 is a commercial game with a mechanic very similar to tic-tac-toe played vertically.

Conecta 4

You can check price and availability on the Amazon website.

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LOODENS rating

If you have never played the original game…. you have to! And when you have mastered it, you can try the pre-challenge and team variants, which are perfect for family games or games with groups of friends.

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