Ultimate Tic Tac Toe

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My 12 year old and I have found another game to play together. We’re playing ultimate tic tac toe. There’s probably lots of variations on the rules out there, but the way we are playing it we have three layers of tic tac toe boards, buried within each other.

It is probably easiest for me to explain the rules if I start with describing how nine-board game of tic tac toe works. Then you have two layers of tic tac toe boards. Someone draws an X or O on one of the smaller boards and where that person placed their mark would dictate on which board the next person played. So for example, in the board below X played first and then O had to play in the bottom right hand corner. O made a bit of a confusing move, because she sent X to play in the top left-hand corner again – where X will have the chance to get two marks before O plays on that board! Nine small boards of tic tac toe make up a medium sized board. Movement between the smaller boards is dictated by where your opponent placed his mark.The game switches from being about blocking your opponent to being about sending your opponent somewhere. Your options of where to send your opponent get limited by which spaces are still open in the board you are playing on, and sometimes you have to chose whether you want to place a mark where it will help you make a line or whether you want to forgo that to avoid sending your opponent somewhere that will allow him or her to make a line. Once a line has been made in the small tic tac toe board, then that player has claimed that space in the larger board, but either player can still be forced to play in that board.

Once you get the hang of playing with 9 boards you can move to an even larger set up. As in the medium sized game, where you place your mark determines on which board your opponent places his or her mark. However this time you continue to play on one of the nine medium sized boards until someone obtains a line there. Then you pick which medium sized board to play in next based on which small size board the line was in, and you pick the small sized board the person has to play on by looking at where the last mark was played.  So for example, if X had a line as shown in the board below and the blue X was the last X marked, then O would have to make an O somewhere in the area circled, because that is on the bottom middle medium-sized board, and it is the bottom left-hand corner of that medium-sized board.

In the ultimate board you need to win three small games in a line to claim a square of the medium board, and then you need three medium squares in a line to claim a square in the larger board.

The game is super fun. It is great for spatial reasoning and strategy. It is almost a dance, as you send your opponent somewhere in the hopes of forcing him to send you where you want to go.

Try it and see! You can use my pdf if want, or draw up the board on a big piece of graph paper.




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