Why Is a Draw Game in Tic-Tac-Toe Called a Cat’s Game?

why is a draw game in tic tac toe called a cat's game

This is a common question among many people who play tic-tac-toe. Why is there even a cat mentioned in the game at all? There is a little etymology that comes along with calling a tie game a cat’s game or a cat’s scratch in Tic-Tac-Toe. There is no definitive answer as to why it’s called a cat’s game. The two best answers are:

  1. A cat that plays with its tail will never be able to win, yet it enjoys the activity all the same.
  2. A tie in Tic-Tac-Toe is also called a scratch, which is short for cat’s scratch. This comes from the idea of a game that is played perfectly will have no winner. It’s like playing with a cat. When both players are at a stalemate, the cat usually signals its finish with a quick scratch.

Although there is no real answer as to why it’s called a cat’s game, we can all agree that all the different ideas are very well thought out and creative!

Is It Tic Cat Toe?

What Is It Called When You Lose Tic-Tac-Toe?

Losing a game at Tic-Tac-Toe can sometimes be instant and come without you even knowing. This small game involving x’s and o’s doesn’t take much skill to play, but takes a lot of skill to master. There is no special word or phrase when you lose Tic-Tac-Toe.

When you lose it simply means that. You lose. Tic-Tac-Toe is a very quick game which means you can play it multiple times until someone reaches a certain number of wins.

What Is a Tic-Tac-Toe Winner Called?

The winner of Tic-Tac-Toe is simply the winner. This game is best played by playing a numerous amount of games until one of the players reaches a certain number of wins. Once player 1 gets up to 10 wins then they are declared the winner of the game. 10 wins is just an example, feel free to set the number of wins to whatever you want.

How Many X’s and O’s Are in Tic-Tac-Toe?

This number depends on what version of Tic-Tac-Toe your are playing. If you are playing a physical version of Tic-Tac-Toe then the general number of x’s and o’s are five for each. This is enough pieces to accommodate for whatever player goes first due to the amount of squares on the game board.

If you are playing the game on a piece of paper by drawing, then this is a little different. You won’t need pieces since you will be drawing directly onto a sheet of paper. The concept is still the same. Whatever player goes first will have a maximum of 5 pieces on the board for a cat’s game.

How Many Squares Are in a Tic Tac Toe Board?

There are a total of 9 squares in a normal game of Tic-Tac-Toe. There are variants of the game that have a different number of squares, but 9 is the amount that is played in the original game. The 9 squares are made of from a 3 x 3 grid of squares. This means that there are 3 rows of 3 squares to make a total of 9.

There are nine squares on a tic-tac-toe board

Why Do They Call It Tic Tac Toe?

The original game actually dates back all the way to the Roman Empire. This 3 x 3 grid game was called Terni Lapilli. It was found scratched into many different surfaces without any markings on the grid. Many believe that the game was actually played with physical pieces placed on top of a drawn grid.

The name Tic-Tac-Toe comes from a game that had a similar name that is no longer played. Players would close their eyes and toss a pencil down onto a slate marked with numbers and earned a score based on the number indicated. A good way to think of this game is like blind darts. This game dated all the way back to the mid 1800’s. The name Tic-Tac-Toe got its name as an imitation of the sound the pencil made when it was hitting the slate multiple times.

Final Thoughts

Tic-Tac-Toe has nothing to do with cats, but it has a very cool etymology. There are many other meanings to why it may be called a cat’s game. The best answer that I found is that a cat that plays with its tail will never be able to win, yet it enjoys the activity all the same.

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