Abs-Trac-Toe

Release Date: 
Thursday, June 15, 2000
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (experienced): 

by Jonathan Leistiko

Object

Earn territory points by claiming adjacent territories on a semi-randomly created board.

You Need

  • Paper and pencil.

Setting Up

One player draws an irregularly-shaped figure on the paper:

 

That player must divide it into nine sections by drawing two horizontal and two vertical lines. Each of these lines must be straight. None of these lines may be tangent to the surrounding shape. Effectively, it should look roughly like a Tic-Tac-Toe board surrounded by a weird shape.

The other player gets to draw one line. This line must start and end at an outside edge. This line may not:

  • cross itself,
  • pass through the intersection of two lines,
  • or touch a line without crossing it.

This line is allowed to cross interior lines other than itself, and it may bend. This line will divide the playing area into many sections.

Play

Starting with the player who did not draw the bending line, take turns marking vacant spaces, one at a time. Each player’s mark must be distinct from any other player’s mark (like “X” and “O”, or “J” and “S”).

The game ends when there are no vacant spaces left to fill.

Winning

Score one point for every interior border shared by spaces that you have claimed. Shared corners (vertices) do not count as shared borders.

Origin and Credits

I made this game up about 20 years ago when I was bored and wanted to be able to play Tic-Tac-Toe against myself. I originally called this game, “Picasso-Tac-Toe,” because it creates things that look kind of like modern art.

Variants

You may want to use colored markers or crayons and construction paper for more “artistic” games.

As mentioned in Origin and Credits, I originally invented this as a solo game. It works rather well, as long as you don’t evaluate your moves too closely. Alternatively, you could treat each board you create as a unique puzzle and try to maximize the number of points one side scores.

Although I’ve only done it once, this game can also be played by three or more people in teams or individually.

Extra

Below is a scan of a game of Abs-Trac-Toe that Sharon and I played. After playing, we colored in the territory we claimed.

As you can see, it really does resemble modern art (at least in a 70’s sense of the word, “modern”).

 

Minimum number of players: 
Maximum number of players: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Minimum Age: 
13
Game Type/Context: 
Price: 
$0(USD)