Ovid's Game

Ovid's Game is a board game, described by the Roman poet Ovid in Book III of his Art of Love, that was popular in ancient Greece, Rome, and China. Each player has three counters, which they place alternately on to nine points laid out in a 3 × 3 grid, with the object of getting three in a line and so winning. This may sound like tic-tac-toe, and there is no doubt that both Ovid's Game and Nine Men's Morris are antecedents of the familiar Noughts and Crosses. But in Ovid's Game play continues after the six counters are down, if no one has yet won, by moving on each turn a single counter, though not diagonally, to any adjacent square. As in the case of tic-tac-toe, two experts (i.e. "rational" players) will always draw. Because the first player is ensured a win by covering the center square, this move is usually not allowed. Ovid advised women to master the game in order to gain the attention of men!