How to Win in Tic-Tac-Toe

Tic-Tac-Toe appears simple at first glance. Yet, when both players are familiar with the primary Tic-Tac-Toe tricks and playing methods, the game often ends in a draw. Here, we've prepared some tips and strategies to enhance your chances of winning every Tic-Tac-Toe game.

Tic-Tac-Toe: How to Win When Going First

Corner Strategy. Starting with the X in the random corner

Begin at a Corner. Dive into the game by placing the inaugural X in a corner of your choice. This tactic opens up several avenues for the opponent to blunder. A win is almost in hand if the response is an O placed anywhere except in the middle.

Corners in Tic Tac Toe

Variant 1. A Guaranteed Win against a Non-Central O

The chances of winning will not change if the opponent puts his O in the corner.

Corner move in Tic Tac Toe

Or if the opponent puts his O symbol on the edge.

Edge move in Tic Tac Toe

Strategize Your X. If your opponent's initial O isn't in the center, your win is almost certain. Respond by placing your next X in another corner, keeping a gap between the two X's.

It makes no difference whether the opponent’s second move was to the corner.

Corner winning move in Tic Tac Toe

Or to the edge.

Edge winning move in Tic Tac Toe

1.1. Preparing a Dual Threat

Third Move is the Charm. Often, your opponent will block a direct threat of two X's in a row.

In this case, it makes no difference whether the opponent started the second move by moving to the corner.

Defence for O after corner move

Or did the opponent start going to the edge.

Defence for O after edge move

1.2. Clinching the Victory with a Dual Threat

Seal Your Win. If the opponent placed the first O sign in the corner, then the winning move will be to the unoccupied remaining corner. At the same time creating a double threat that the opponent is unable to repel.

Corner double threat in Tic Tac Toe

If the opponent started to move to the edge, then the move to the center will be victorious, creating an inevitable double threat. Since your opponent can only guard one, fill the other to claim your win!

Edge double threat in Tic Tac Toe

Variant 2. Counteracting an O in the Center.

If an opponent puts an O in the center first, winning is only possible because of mistakes made. If play continues without errors, the game might end in a draw. Here are some winning Tic-Tac-Toe tricks:

2.1. Place the next X in the far corner from the initial one, forming a diagonal line with "X O X". If an O appears in a different corner next, there's a good chance to win! Just place the next X in the last corner, and a victory is almost certain.

Corner Trick in Tic Tac Toe

2.2. Alternatively, place the next X on a side, but not close to the first X. If an O appears in a distant corner, position the X to block, and victory is likely with the following move.

Edge in Tic Tac Toe

Central Strategy. Starting with the X in the central field

Center move

The central strategy gives less chances to win for the first player rather than corner strategy. For the second player there are two possible variants.

Variant 1. Move to any corner.

This is a draw answer, as a result of which X's chances of winning are minimal.

Corner tie in Tic Tac Toe

Variant 2. Move to any edge square.

It is a losing move because it allows the starting first player to always win by creating double threats.

Edge loosing in Tic Tac Toe

Next X move should be made to any corner, creating a threat for O that needs to be blocked.

Threat for X in Tic Tac Toe

After forced blocking by O.


The third X move (annual fifth move) to the corner creates an inevitable double threat is created, leading to victory.

Fork in Tic Tac Toe

Winning When Going Second in Tic-Tac-Toe

When you start a game of Tic-Tac-Toe going second, your primary goal is typically to achieve a draw. Statistically, the second player has fewer chances of winning. However, this doesn't mean you don't have opportunities to outplay your opponent! For those who want to delve deeper into strategies and tactics for a player starting second, we recommend visiting our dedicated page, "How to Win at Tic-Tac-Toe When Starting Second". There, you'll find detailed information and advice to help you master this classic game!


While Tic-Tac-Toe may seem like a game of chance, mastering its strategic nuances can pave the way for regular triumphs. Understanding the game's core mechanics and cheats and leveraging tried-and-true tactics makes winning or drawing every game possible, nullifying your opponent's chances.

Remember, the key lies in your moves and anticipating your opponent's next step. Continual practice and a strategic mindset will soon make you an unbeatable player, and you will understand how to win Tic-Tac-Toe every time you play. Embrace the challenge, refine your strategies, and enjoy the journey towards mastering this timeless classic!