The Beautiful Game of Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe

Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe is a thrilling game of strategy that takes a simple classic game to a whole new level. You can enjoy this game with friends and work to improve your skill. All you need is about fifteen minutes of free time, a writing surface and writing instrument, and an opponent.

Step 1: Board Setup

On any writing surface, draw a large tic-tac-toe grid. This will act as the "global board." Inside of each of the nine sections of the global board, draw a smaller tic-tac-toe grid. Each of these small grids will act as a "local board." Local boards are described by their location within the global board by naming the row, and then the column. The rows are described as "top, middle, and bottom" and the columns are described as "left, middle, and right."

Step 2: Getting Started

The location of each move within its local board determines the local board in which the opponent goes next. For example, in the picture on the left, "X" has gone in the top-right corner of the local board. This means that "O" must play in the top-right section of the global board. In the picture on the right, O has played in the top-middle square of the local board. This "sends" X to the top-middle section of the global board.

Step 3: Local Board Won!

In the picture above, you can see that "O" has won the local board in the top-middle section of the global board. In order to win the game, a player must win three local boards in a configuration on the global board that would win an ordinary game of tic-tac-toe. For example, if "O" were to go on and also win the middle-middle board and the bottom-middle board, they would win the game.

Step 4: "O" Sent to a Board That Has Already Been Won

In the picture above, one can see that "X" has gone in the top-middle section of the middle-right local board. This sends "O" to the top-middle board, which has already been won. "O" still has to play in that local board, even though the move will not directly help win a local board.

Step 5: "O" Sent to a Full Board

In the picture above, "X" has played in the middle-middle square of the top-left board. This move sends "O" to the central board, which no longer has any empty spaces. This means that "O" can play their turn anywhere on any local board.

Step 6: "O" Has Won!

As can be seen in the picture above, "O" has won the game by winning the three local boards in the right column.

Step 7: Becoming a Better Player: Pro Tip 1- Think Ahead

The key to being a good ultimate tic-tac-toe player is thinking ahead. Making a move that seems beneficial at the moment may hurt you later on. As you improve, try to think further and further ahead when making your moves.

Step 8: Becoming a Better Player: Pro Tip 2- Force Your Opponent to Waste Moves

Whenever possible, you want to try to gain the advantage over your opponent. One way to do this is to send them to a board that has been won and is not yet full. This will make them play a move that does not directly help them. (Keep pro tip 1 in mind!)

Step 9: Becoming a Better Player: Pro Tip 3- Keep Your Opponent's Moves Under Control

It is always important, especially later in the game, to consider where your opponent might play their move based on wherever you send them. It would not be smart to send your opponent to a full board, as you would lose control over where they play their turn.

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