Is there a way to never lose at Tic-Tac-Toe?

Is there a way to never lose at Tic-Tac-Toe? by Arjun Subramaniam

Answer by Arjun Subramaniam:

Yes – There is.

The following techniques shown below are indicative of a way to "never lose", not necessarily to win. The worst scenario, however, would be to tie.

Remember that there are two basis starting points from which we can plot our strategy – You go first, or your opponent goes first.

But let's review some basic definitions here.


  • Counter-Attack – Making a move that blocks your opponent
  • Center – The square in the middle surrounded by all the other squares.
  • Edge – A piece bordering the center.
  • Corner – A piece bordered by two edge squares.

Ok – Good! We've got some basic vocabulary down. Now let's get going.


Avoid placing your first piece on an edge square, and keep it on the center or a corner square. Placing it on an edge square will leave you vulnerable and give your opponent the advantage.

1) Center

If you mark the center, your opponent will either place his/her first piece on an edge or corner piece.

  • If they mark an edge, it's incredibly easy to win – There's no chance of even tying. Simply place your next piece on one of the two corners furthest from the edge piece. They will most likely block that move, which in turn gives them an opportunity to win. Block their move, and suddenly, you have two ways to win, and your opponent is helpless.
  • If they mark a corner, as a smarter opponent would, it's a little bit more complicated. Place your next mark on the opposite corner, or the corner that would make a diagonal of two X's and one O. If they place their next piece on an edge, they've made a mistake, and you now have two ways of winning, depending on which edge they placed their O on. Otherwise, assuming you keep counter-attacking, the game will end in a tie.

2) Corner

If you play a corner piece first, there are only two significant response that your opponent can make: Center, or not center.

  • If their first move is away from the center, you should be able to win. Remember that your first piece is contained in both a vertical and horizontal row. Your next move should be in the other corner of the same row you placed your first piece. They'll likely counter-attack, leaving two options for you, and an easy path to victory. This will work whether they play a corner or an edge piece first up.

Here's another great way to trap your opponent:

  • If their first move is in the center, it's a little bit trickier. Again, form a diagonal. If their next move is in the corner, you can trap them by placing your next piece at the intersection of the row and column of the previous two X's. If their next move is at an edge, you'll be forced to settle for a draw.


Unfortunately, if your opponent goes first and uses all the above techniques, there's no way that you can win. In fact, the only way you can win is if his/her first move is an edge piece. If so, carry out all the steps shown above.

So what can you do to at least bring the match to a draw, given that your opponent plays a good strategy?

Remember what we said before – Your opponent will either choose a corner or the center piece.

1) Center

If he chooses the center, place your O on the corner immediately, which will buy you some time. According to the best strategy, your opponent will place his next X on the opposite corner to yours. Your next piece should not be bordering your previous move. Then, it's the simple matter of continuously blocking and counter-attacking until a tie is reached.

Even if they don't use this strategy, keep blocking until you reach a tie.

2) Corner

If they mark a corner, mark the center, or you will almost certainly lose against a good opponent. Then remember that there is one outcome in which a tie is possible from above.

Your opponent has two choices, to either form a diagonal or place their next piece somewhere else. Assuming that their move forms a diagonal, as the strategy would dictate, stay on the edges and off the corners. You can force a tie this way.

Else, as usual, keep blocking until a tie is reached.

Of course, this is the logic of Tic-Tac-Toe, but there are certain useful tips that can help you when playing with a good player.

  • Don't be a reactionary, impulsive player. Unless there's a time limit, take as much time as you want, thinking the move through. Don't react immediately to what your opponent is doing; Sometimes the most obvious move might not be the right one.
  • Make safe moves. Every move of yours should be dictated by strategy – In the middle of the game, the best way to make a move is to think a few moves ahead, and what your opponent might do. First consider whether a certain move can win you the game, or block the opponent from winning. If not, then make sure to always think strategy. The best way to win is to figure out how to create two ways to win at once.
  • Read this answer. Trust me – It helps.

And armed with strategy, advice, and confidence, you can beat anyone!

[1] How to Win at Tic Tac Toe ( Pictures, material )

Is there a way to never lose at Tic-Tac-Toe?

By Mohammed Hakkim

What are the best tricks to keep yourself motivated?

Answer by Edmond Lau:

In 2009, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson made a surprising discovery in the science of motivation. She conducted a series of studies where she asked participants to solve a set of puzzles and problems. In one group — the “be-good” group — participants were told that their score reflected their “conceptual and analytical abilities.” They should try to solve as many problems as possible and aim for a high score to demonstrate how good they were. In another group — the “get-better” group — participants were told that each problem was a “training tool” and that they ought to “take advantage of this valuable learning opportunity” to improve their problem-solving skills. [1]

For some participants in each group, Halvorson also increased the difficulty level by introducing a few challenges. She interrupted participants to use up some of their allotted time. She threw in extra, unsolvable problems to frustrate them, without telling participants that the problems were unsolvable.

What surprised Halvorson was how the two groups dealt with the challenges. The ones in the “get-better” group remained unfazed and solved as many as problems in the challenging conditions as the easy ones. They stayed motivated and kept trying to learn. The ones in the “be-good” group, however, were so demoralized when they faced the challenges and obstacles that they solved substantially fewer problems than those who didn’t have to face them.

And those differences happened just because of how the initial goal was framed.

Define Mastery Goals, Not Performance Ones, For Difficult Problems

Halvorson’s experiments illustrate the difference between a mastery goal, where you aim to learn and get better at some skill, and a performance goal, where you aim to be good, either to demonstrate you’re talented or to outperform other people.

Your objective for a given problem can often be framed in either way:

  • Are you studying for tests to learn and to grow or to demonstrate your intelligence?
  • Are you spending years on a PhD to innovate in your research area or to because you think it’ll be a good stepping stone for your career?
  • Are you training for a 10K race to improve your own time or to beat the competition?
  • Are you working on side projects and brushing up your coding skills to become a better software engineer or to simply get a better-paying job?

The actions you perform to accomplish a mastery goal or a performance goal might be the same, but your motivation and your mindset will be quite different. When you’re focused on improving your own skills, rather than on demonstrating them, you’re less likely to get discouraged by obstacles, time pressure, or other unexpected challenges. You’ll believe that you can still improve and do better next time. You’ll have a growth mindset.

That’s not to say performance goals don’t have their place. Professor Dan Ariely conducted a series of experiments at MIT, the University of Chicago, and in rural Madurai, India. Subjects were asked to participate in a number of games and offered either a small, moderate, or large financial incentive for performing well on each particular game — a clear example of performance goals in action. For memory games, creativity games, or motor skill games, those offered a large financial incentive actually performed worse than those offered smaller ones. The only task where participants actually performed better when offered a large financial incentive was when they were performing the mechanical task of alternating keypresses on a keyboard as quickly as possible. [2]

Daniel Pink reinforces this idea in his book Drive, explaining that when there is a clear goal and when the problem can be solved by brute force, performance-based goals — especially those incentivized by a reward — work extremely well. It’s when the problems require some ingenuity or some mental effort, that performance-based goals and rewards start to backfire and reduce performance. [3]

Making This Research Useful

Set the right type of goal for the task at hand to get better results.

You’re better off setting a performance goal when you can brute force through the problem, particularly if there’s a reward at stake. For example, performance goals work well if you’re:

  • Triaging through a long bug or feature list.
  • Responding to a long backlog of personal emails or customer support emails.
  • Finishing a laundry list of chores around the apartment.
  • Mechanically grinding through any number of mindless tasks.

It can be helpful for each of these short-term tasks, where there isn’t much opportunity to master a new skill, to instead tie a reward to the completion of the task. Make an if-then rule: If you get everything done, then you’ll treat yourself (or your team) to something nice. The performance incentive can help you get things done faster.

But for our long-term goals, we’ll stay much more motivated in the long run if we adopt a mindset where we’re aiming to master our skills rather than to hit a performance goal. For example,

  • Rather than focusing on getting promoted to a staff engineering position at your company, focus on improving your engineering skills and your ability to create meaningful impact.
  • Rather than training to win at some sport — whether it’s running, a tennis match, ultimate frisbee, etc. — train to become a better player or athlete.
  • Rather than joining at a startup to get rich, join because you're passionate about the problem space and excited to learn from the journey.

You’ll notice that long-term goals framed in terms of performance tend to rely on external factors outside of your control (whether your manager promotes you, whether you’re better than your opponent, or whether your startup succeeds). When you let environmental circumstances play such a large role in your success, it’s much harder to stay motivated when you encounter obstacles, just like the puzzle-solving participants in Halvorson’s experiments. If you instead focus on your own learning and on getting better, you’re much more likely to overcome pain points and actually succeed.

Looking for more motivation tips? This answer is based on a blog post I wrote on The Effective EngineerSubscribe to get new updates.

Photo credit: Libby Levi, What's your motivation?


  1. Heidi Grant Halvorson, Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, p64-68.
  2. Dan Ariely, et. al., “Large Stakes and Big Mistakes”,….
  3. Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, p60.

What are the best tricks to keep yourself motivated?

By Mohammed Hakkim

What are the best stories about people randomly meeting Steve Jobs?

Answer by Matt McCoy:

Back in 2008, my MacBook Pro hard drive stopped working. I was in the middle of my final senior project at the University of Cincinnati (Electronic Media) and needed to turn it in a week later. I went to the Apple store in hopes that they could recover the data on my hard drive. Instead, they put a brand new hard drive in it. When I came to pick it up, they wouldn't give me back my old hard drive (with the data on it). They said they already shipped it back to the manufacturer and don't let customers keep old parts.

But I didn't care about a new hard drive, I only cared about the old hard drive because I wanted to try to recover the data from it. They said sorry.

I went home and emailed Steve Jobs … just guessing his email address: steve(at)apple, jobs(at)apple, jobs.steve(at)apple,tc. etc.
Basically begging for his help and sharing my story.

The next day I got a call from Palo Alto.

Me: "Hello?"
Caller: "Hey Matt. This is Steve Jobs. I just wanted to let you know that I got your email and we are going to do everything we can to recover your missing hard drive.
Me: "Whoa… thank you!"
Caller: "I'm going to pass you on to my assistant, and he's going to take care of you from here. We'll get you taken care of. Hold."

Then the call was transferred to a guy named "Tim". I'm still not sure what Tim's last name was… is it even possible that it was Tim Cook? I don't know what Tim's history is at Apple.

Anyways, within about 4 days my original hard-drive showed up on my doorstep, along with the data recovered on a new hard drive and a brand new iPod.

What are the best stories about people randomly meeting Steve Jobs?

By Mohammed Hakkim

What is a story you often read to stay motivated?

Answer by Benedict Raymond Gershom:

This is the best analogy to prove that we make our own destiny!

Long ago (around 600-500 BC), there lived a great scholar and astrologer on the banks of the river Indus. His wife delivered a healthy son. The little boy was very active and was the apple of his parents' eyes. He grew up to be a sweet child whose smile reminded one of the moon on a full moon night.

One day, a great scholar, astrologer and palmist the childs father. He was a great friend. He and his family treated the great man courteously. He was served the best food and was treated with the best services. After lunch, the great man called the child and asked him to sit with him. He readily agreed and sat with the great man.

The great man looked at the right palm of the child. He sat there gazing at the palm for several minutes. The expression on his face changed from that of cheerfulness to that of concern. Looking at this change, his father inquired the great man about what was bothering him.

The great man looked at him with pitiful eyes and said "Oh No! My friend! You are such a renowned scholar and people around the world come to you for advice. Alas! Fate has it that this child of yours will remain illiterate. He has no Education Line on his palm."

He asked his friend- "Please forgive me. I am not saying this because I doubt your expertise, but would it be possible that you haven't checked my son's palm correctly?"

The great man looked at him, whose eyes tried to hold their grief back, and said "My friend! I have checked the boy's palm thoroughly, not once but twice and there is no Education Line here. He is bound to remain illiterate."
He could no longer hold his grief. He closed his eyes and muttered under his breath "If the lord wishes it to be so, so be it!"

The small child, who was listening to the conversation, gently asked the great man "Sir, could you please tell me where on my palm would the education line be, if it had been?"The great man showed the child the location of the education line on his own palm. He felt sympathetic towards the child, who was so well mannered and soft spoken.

The child ran out of the house dismayed. As he was wandering in the woods, he happened to see a women draw water from the well. What he observed was really inspiring. The rope which the women used to draw was taking support of wodden log (in vague terms it served as a pulley). He concluded that the rope was aligned correctly in the ridge formed in the log due to the repeated motion perfomed by the women

He returned back in a few minutes. He held out his right palm and asked the great man "Will I be a scholar now? Will I be able to uphold my father's name?"

The great man and his father looked at the child's hand and were shocked. Blood was oozing out of the palm and where there had to be the education line, there was a deep line which was etched with a sharp stone

This story is an epitome of making your destiny!

By the way the childs name is Panini, the father of Sanskrit Grammar

What is a story you often read to stay motivated?

By Mohammed Hakkim

Which Indian startups have the best inspiring stories?

Answer by Khushal Jaiswal:

There are several start-ups and mentioning each one of them is not possible,But i will mention few truly inspirational startups ,so grab a cup of coffee(if you need) and  stay seated patiently because its gonna be a long answer.
The Billion Dollar Mu Sigma Story – with Founder Dhiraj C. Rajaram
It is befitting of a billion dollar company in the business analytics space to be named after the symbols of mean (Mu) and standard deviation (Sigma). Mu Sigma is one of the fastest growing companies in the world and has raised a gargantuan grand total of 163 million dollars in funding over its 9 years of existence. Mu Sigma also holds the unique distinction of securing the largest funding round ever by a business analytics company.
The accolades that Mu Sigma has accumulated over the years is a rapidly rising toll. But, like all great companies, the core of the company is built around the beliefs and ideas of an intrinsically curious person. Founder, Dhiraj C Rajaram, had a novel idea which bore no intentions towards entrepreneurship.

 For its founder, Dhiraj C Rajaram, it all started because of three reasons: one, his unending urge to learn; two, to separate noise from signals – in terms of information that comes to businesses in their day-to-day life. And three, his belief that innovation in businesses is nothing but chance.
With these reasons and a dream in his heart Dhiraj started MuSigma in 2004. The beginning of the company was humble, but today it is a multi-million dollar company. There were others in that space when Dhiraj entered the fray, like IBM, Accenture etc but that did not deter him.
Dhiraj ranks hiring people in the initial years as his biggest challenge. “I was constantly begging people to join my company!”, he jokes.
After surviving four years on his own, Mu Sigma raised its first round of investment worth $30 million from FTVentures (now FTV Capital) in 2008. Subsequently, in April 2011, the company raised an additional $25 million from Sequoia Capital, followed by the third round of $108 million again from Sequoia and a private equity investor General Atlantic, which is the highest investment ever made in an analytics company.
Dhiraj admits that he hasn’t seen many downs during his journey with Mu Sigma. His problems were slightly different. He says, “We have been quite successful from the beginning. Having said that we had different reasons to shut the shop. Some very big companies wanted to buy us out. That was quite enticing. But that’s actually when your belief gets tested. What I felt immediately after even thinking about those offers was some sadness because I thought if I sold out, the idea might die.”
How the Mumbai floods of 2005 made an entrepreneur of mettle: Shiladitya Mukhopadhayaya
The Fateful Night of the July 27, 2005
The 2005 Mumbai floods are remembered for the destruction it caused but also for the resilience of Mumbaikars. The city was caught in a shock by nature’s fury but the city as a whole got together and worked things back into place. And this resilient spirit is deep ingrained in Shiladitya as well. He was at a friend’s place when the incessant rains began. This friend happens to be Sahil Anand, Shiladitya’s batchmate and now co-founder of Rasilanttechnologies.

Shiladitya couldn’t go back home that night and the havoc that was being created outside, got the duo in an introspective mode. They conversed about the strong urge to not fall for the ‘corporate trap’. Everyone has these talks at one point in time but the duo acted upon it. Things were hazy till then but that night put things into perspective. A company took birth.
Sahil is a very resourceful guy and liked what Shiladitya had thought about RFID. Raising some money from their families, the duo started up Rasilant technologies- a Global Automation Solutions and System Integration Services company.
The Growth Story
Rasilant is a B2B company that has undertaken more than 35 major projects till date including Bajaj Auto, Reliance (multiple companies) and IL&FS. “We basically help companies automate their internal processes,” says Shiladitya. The market was almost non-existent when they started up in 2005 but has picked up since then and now Rasilant is a formidable name in the industry. A 36 member team, Rasilant clocked INR 24 crores in revenues last year with profit margins of around 10% most of which again goes into the business.
The online shopping giant Flipkart:The journey of Sachin and Binny Bansal
Alexa rank 7, fresh capital of $1 billion, 14000 employees and day by day inching towards becoming India’s first $100 billion internet company.Sachin Bansal , 33, he surely does have multiple reasons to celebrate his success but there’s much more to the story beyond these numbers.
Sachin admitted in an interview that starting Flipkart is the most ridiculous thing he has ever done and everyone around him thought that he was out of his mind.

Initially flipkart started selling online books only.They used to stand outside a famous book store and distribute flipkart bookmarks to the customers coming outside of the book store with books in their hand.
And now ,from handling bookmarks to handling a multi billion dollar company,surely make its founder proud of their company and their decision.
I will stop with these three recent startup examples which instantly struck my mind after reading this question.
P.S.:They might Not be the biggest startups but they are surely inspiring.For more stories you can click at sources.
Indian Startups, Entrepreneurs, Founders, Stories, News, Resources, Research, Business Ideas, Product and App Reviews, Small Business

Which Indian startups have the best inspiring stories?

By Mohammed Hakkim

What are some characteristics of successful people?

Answer by Karan Bansal:

Mr. Smith, when asked once about the secret to his success, vehemently stated that it had very little to do with talent.

"You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right?”

"The moment you realize that everything in the world around you was built by people who were no smarter than you, you become an element of change yourself…you can change anything"

—Steve Jobs.

"Some people think that if their opponent plays a beautiful game, it’s OK to lose. I don’t. You have to be merciless."

—Magnus Carlsen.

"I start early, and I stay late, day after day, year after year, it took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success."


View Answer on Quora

By Mohammed Hakkim

Why should I learn Python if I already know Java?

Answer by Manan Dhawan:

  • Beautiful and elegant.
  • Easier to learn.
  • No fuss of the curly braces {}.
  • You don't have to define the variable type [Python is smart enough].
  • Nice support community.
  • Many companies use it.
    (Dropbox, Quora, Google, Yahoo Maps, Reddit, Youtube, DuoLingo and many more
    Games: Battlefield 2, Civilization 4 and many more)
  • Many libraries available.
  • We dont have to define the datatype of the variables, hence less confusion.
  • A short Example: Comparison: Swap two numbers in python and java
  • Some screenshots from the internet related to the difficulty level.

View Answer on Quora

By Mohammed Hakkim