One of the most playful things you can do with games is to change the rules. One of the first rule-changing plays is called misère play or misère games.
In toe-tac-tic, or misère tic-tac-toe, the winner is the player who does not make a three-in-a-row! The player that creates three-in-a-row/column/diagonal is the loser. In toe-tac-tic, the second player has an advantage. This is easily understood, since the first player, ‘X’, draws five ‘X’s as opposed to his four ‘O’’s.
His advantage, though, is not decisive. If the first player draws his ‘X’ in the center square, and both players are “clever”, the game can end with a draw. The first player’s strategy, after playing ‘X’ in the center square, is to respond symmetrically (with respect to the center square) to ‘O’s moves. So, for example, if ‘O’ marks the top, right corner square, ‘X’ should play the bottom .
Do you know any other misère games?
© Davidson Institute of Science Education, Weizmann Institute of Science