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Word Tic-Tac-Toe

No. of Players: 2
Type of Game: written
What you need: pen and paper


To select three words that share a common letter.

How to play

This word game is a linguistic variation of the classic game of Tic-Tac-Toe. One player writes down the following nine words on a piece of paper like this:

tic tac toe grid with words: FISH, SOUP, SWAN, GIRL, HORN, ARMY, KNIT, VOTE, CHAT

The first player either X's out a word of their choosing, or circles that word. The second player chooses a different word, marking it in the opposite way from the first player. The first player then chooses another word, followed by a choice by the second player, and so on. The winner is the first player who X's or O's three words that share a letter. If neither player accomplishes this, the game ends up a draw.

Note: a close examination of these nine words reveals that they are so arranged that common letters are shared vertically across the three rows, horizontally down the three columns, and span the two diagonals. More specifically:

  • In row 1, FISH, SOUP, SWAN share the letter S.
  • In row 2, GIRL, HORN, ARMY share the letter R.
  • In row 3, KNIT, VOTE, CHAT share the letter T.
  • In column 1, FISH, GIRL, KNIT share the letter I.
  • In column 2, SOUP, HORN, VOTE share the letter O.
  • In column 3, SWAN, ARMY, CHAT share the letter A.
  • In the NW to SE diagonal, FISH, HORN, CHAT share the letter H.
  • In the SW to NE diagonal, KNIT, HORN, SWAN share the letter N.

This means that any strategy proven effective in classic tic-tac-toe will also prove effective in this word game. For instance, a player who goes first should X (or O) a corner word; so long as the other player does not O (or X) the center word, there is a good chance the first player will win.

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