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Tic Tac Toe Challenge

Everyone knows how to play tic-tac-toe. But can you solve the tic tac toe challenge puzzle? This fun brain teaser is simple to explain, but it can be hard to solve!

Setting up the Tic Tac Toe Puzzle

While normal tic-tac-toe (or noughts and crosses) uses X’s and O’s, this tic tac toe puzzle only requires the standard grid and six X’s.

While you can draw the grid on paper and try to solve the puzzle that way, I find the puzzle is much easier to solve with physical paper pieces to manipulate and move around during the puzzle solving process.

Tic Tac Toe Challenge Puzzle on laminated paper with six pink X's.

I originally typed up this tic tac toe challenge puzzle with the intention of using it on my puzzle table with laminated x pieces for students to place on the tic tac toe grid.


drawing of laminator machine with text "laminating recommendations"

A laminator is a MUST-HAVE for me as a math teacher! I spent my first six years as a teacher at a school with a broken laminator, so I had to find a way to laminate things myself.

I’ve had several laminators over the years. I currently use a Scotch laminator at home and a Swingline laminator at school.

I highly recommend splurging a bit on the actual laminator and buying the cheapest laminating pouches you can find!

Don’t want to print the puzzle? I also created digital versions of the puzzle while teaching during the pandemic that are linked later in the post.

Tic Tac Toe Challenge Instructions

Place six X’s on a standard tic-tac-toe board without making three-in-a-row in any direction.

tic tac toe challenge puzzle instructions

I really like that the instructions and set-up for this tic tac toe brain teaser are so simple that you can issue the challenge to someone at a moment’s notice.

Will your friends be able to solve this tic tac toe riddle?

Jumbo Magnetic Version of Tic Tac Toe Challenge

I decided this would make a great magnetic puzzle for my dry erase board if I made the pieces JUMBO sized. I was right! Students loved it. Some students even tried using it to play regular games of tic tac toe by having one student use a dry erase marker to draw the O’s.

I added disc magnets to the back of the laminated pieces to make it easy for students to place the pieces on the dry erase board while playing tic-tac-toe.

jumbo version of tic tac toe puzzle hanging on dry erase board with magnets

Digital Versions of Tic Tac Toe Challenge

digital version of tic tac toe challenge puzzle

Link to make a copy of Tic Tac Toe Challenge Google Slides Version

Want more puzzles? Check out my puzzles page!

Puzzle Solutions

I intentionally do not make answers to the printable math puzzles I share on my blog available online because I strive to provide learning experiences for my students that are non-google-able. I would like other teachers to be able to use these puzzles in their classrooms as well without the solutions being easily found on the Internet.

However, I do recognize that us teachers are busy people and sometimes need to quickly reference an answer key to see if a student has solved a puzzle correctly or to see if they have interpreted the instructions properly.

If you are a teacher who is using these puzzles in your classroom, please send me an email at with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.

Sue Hellman

Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Hi Sarah. I like the strategy behind this game so have expanded your Google Slide template to add slides for 9 questions & solutions. I've also added game play directions for students to play in pairs. Here's the link to my version of your game (credits in Speaker Notes) --

Sarah Carter

Wednesday 3rd of November 2021

Brilliant! I love this (especially the name you gave it). Thanks for sharing!

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