How To Win Connect 4 I Connect Four Strategy, Rules & Instructions (2023)

Been wondering how to win at connect four? Our latest post teaches you how to play, utilizing the rules, instructions strategy, pieces and winning patterns.

How To Play Connect Four

What is Connect Four? Connect Four is the commercial trademark name of a classic four in a row game. Simple rules and straightforward gameplay make it easy for children to learn, and the trillions of possible winning combinations present unique challenges for adults.

Learning how to play the four in a row game is simple and fun. The basic directions are outlined in the official booklet sold with the game and can also be found online. Every game follows the same structure:

1) Set up the board by attaching the grid to the base or sliding the supports onto the sides of the grid. Place the grid between the two players.

2) Slide the lever at the bottom of the grid into the locked position.

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3) Divide the checkers evenly between players. The classic colors are red and black, but other variations include red and yellow and black and white.

4) Determine which player goes first. This may be done using any random method, such as flipping a coin. It’s common to let the youngest player go first when playing with children.

5) The first player inserts a checker into the grid. Only after the checker has been released can the second player make his or her move.

6) Turns continue to alternate between the first and second players until someone gets four checkers of the same color lined up in a row or the board is filled without any winning moves.

7) After a winner has been determined or a tie declared, place the box underneath the grid. Slide the lever out of the locked position to release the checkers.

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Connect Four Rules

The game rules for Connect Four are just as simple as the directions for play. Since only one checker can be placed in the board at a time and all of the slots are divided into rows and columns, it’s not possible to cheat and move a checker once it has been placed. Checkers in the board may not be manipulated. Each player may drop only one checker into the grid per turn.

A winner is declared when one player gets four of their colored checkers in a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Other configurations, such as squares, don’t count as winning combinations. The game is declared a stalemate or tie if all the pieces are played but nobody has four in a row. How many pieces in Connect Four? If you play a few games ending in stalemate, you’ll see there are 42, 21 of each color.

As with many other board game instructions, players have developed additional and alternative rules used during personal play. Some of these rules, such as reducing the number of checkers required in a row, are meant to make the game easier for younger players. In tournament play, however, official rules are observed.

Connect Four Strategy

Getting four in a row is the object of Connect Four for both players, so you want to prevent your opponent from reaching this goal. As a “zero sum” game, any advantageous move on your part is a disadvantage for your opponent. Make this work for you with a few classic Connect Four strategy moves:

1) Drop your first checker into the middle column if possible. If your opponent takes this slot, play on one side or the other to increase the possibility of creating a winning combination.

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2) Look for patterns suggesting an upcoming winning move for your opponent, and block them at every opportunity.

3) Create vertical stacks of checkers to force your opponent to “waste” a move blocking you rather than building their own strategy.

4) Build a “forced win” or “seven trap” combination of three horizontal and three diagonal checkers. Your opponent can only block one of the two potential moves.

How To Win At Connect Four

Whether you played Connect Four as a kid and are looking for a refresher course or you want to gain a competitive advantage when participating in tournaments, a thorough understanding of the rules and strategies can help you recognize patterns and triumph over your opponents every time.

For a true winning strategy, use the moves above in combination with the basic rules to gain the advantage over the other player.

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1) Start in the middle row.

2) Plan ahead to discover how to win any game based on the potential options for you and your opponent.

3) Block your opponent while building your competitive edge.

4) Watch for “game ending” moves, and prevent your opponent from taking advantage of them.

The best way to develop a Connect Four strategy is to play the game as often as you can. Practice your moves, and study the board to learn patterns revealing potential winning tactics. The more you play, the easier it becomes to identify the moves to make to set yourself up for a win every time. Your first few games may be a little tricky, but over time you’ll master not only the basic instructions but also the complex principles governing the game.

(Video) How to play Connect 4


Is there a winning strategy for Connect 4? ›

The ideal position is to have two potential connect-fours that need a final checker on two spaces that are on top of each other. This will usually lead to a victory because you can threaten in the first space. If the opponent fails to block, you win. If the opponent blocks, you play on top to win in the next space.

How to win Connect 4 every time as player 1? ›

If you are player one, put your first disk in the very bottom center slot. If you're player one or two, try to get as many disks into the center column as possible. Plan multiple moves in advance. Just like in chess, moves in Connect 4 can force you or your opponent to make a reactionary move to block a win.

How do you beat Connect 4 strategy? ›

Connect 4 Winning Strategies
  1. Always anticipate your opponent's next move. ...
  2. Plan multiple moves ahead of time. ...
  3. Play the middle column. ...
  4. Block your opponent. ...
  5. Keep your eye open for game-ending spaces. ...
  6. Avoid playing directly below a game-ending space. ...
  7. Fork threats. ...
  8. Use the opponent's mistakes to your advantage.
Jul 2, 2021

Is Connect 4 luck or skill? ›

You need to know the rules, be familiar with the game pieces, and of course, have some know-how. What I've found over the years is that to be a Connect 4 Pro, skill – and I mean real skill – is required. And this type of skill doesn't come from simply reading the game rules and playing a round or 2.

Who is the best Connect 4 player? ›


Can humans play Connect 4 perfectly? ›

It really isn't possible for two reasons. First, yes, it is theoretically possible to construct the whole tree. You could then trim the tree to just show the "good" moves. But the tree would be enormous and much too large for a human to memorize (except for some trivially small version).

What are the odds of getting a draw in Connect 4? ›

That is awesome, thanks for sharing! I am kind of surprised the draw percentage is so high, hovering around 0.25%.


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