Best for: Two players
What you need:
- Something to write with
How to play: OK, so we’re all familiar with tic-tac-toe, right? The normal 9-square grid?
Well, in ultimate tic-tac-toe, you’ve got a smaller grid within each of those 9 squares:
To win the game, you have to win three of the larger squares in a row, and to win a large square, you have to win three in a row in the smaller grid inside it.
Here’s how it works. Say X goes first:
Now, just like in normal tic-tac-toe, O gets to go. But O can’t just go anywhere. The smaller grid O must play in is determined by X’s move. So since X went in the bottom right corner within his small grid, O must go in the bottom right corner of the large grid:
So O goes, anywhere in this small grid he wants to:
Now you know where X has to go, right?
A few moves down, the game might look like this:
See what just happened in the far right middle square? X got three in a row! That means X wins that small grid, thus claiming that square in the large grid:
Then it’s O’s turn again (O is still sent to the small grid determined by X’s last move). Eventually someone will claim three small grids in a row, thus winning the whole game:
Nice job, X!
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of strategy involved. You’ve got to keep in mind where you’re sending your opponent, thinking several moves ahead.
One rule: If the player before you sends you to a grid that’s already been won, you get to go wherever you want. (So try not to send your opponent to an already-won grid!)
Another rule you’ll need to decide on your own will be what to do with smaller grids that result in a tie. You could either count them for 1) neither X nor O or 2) both X and O. Try both ways and let me know which one you like more!
Many thanks to Math with Bad Drawings for this fun and quite strategic game!
Printables: Here’s a free Ultimate Tic-tac-toe board you can use. Just download and print.
Variations: Aside from the normal tic-tac-toe, there’s also 3D triple-decker tic-tac-toe, and, my personal favorite, human tic-tac-toe. Who knew there were so many variations on tic-tac-toe out there?
Oh! Wait! I almost forgot! Many thanks also to my husband’s synesthesia, which helped me decide what colors to color the X and the O in the post artwork 🙂