10 Helpful Tips, Tricks, and Strategies to Win at Connect 4

Two boys playing a giant-sized version of Connect Four outdoors
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So, you want to improve your Connect 4 game, but do not know where to start? You are actually at just the right place.

I recently took an interest in improving my Connect 4 skills, and I learned quite a few interesting things along the way. I took the time to study and set a few new strategies and tricks in place, and I was very happy with the results. I started winning more and more Connect 4 games. What are the tips and strategies I learned? These I will share with you – go forth and become the best Connect 4 player you can be!

10 tips, tricks, and strategies to win at Connect 4:

  1. Anticipate the opponent’s next move.
  2. Play the middle column.
  3. Block your opponent.
  4. Keep your eye open for game-ending spaces.
  5. Avoid playing directly below a game-ending space.
  6. Fork threats.
  7. Plan multiple moves ahead of time.
  8. Use the opponent’s mistakes to your advantage.
  9. Play on the offensive.
  10. Practice, practice, practice. 

I have personally found that the game of Connect 4 requires a considerable amount of foresight. I actually didn’t realize quite how strategic the game can be until I started learning a bit more about the strategies I could apply to my gameplay. The game can move quite quickly sometimes and requires full attention and quick thinking from the 2 players involved in the game.

Connect 4 is played on a special rack, and while it is reminiscent of Tic-Tac-Toe, it is more involved. If you want to learn some quick tips on how to win more often when playing Connect 4, read on. 

Connect 4 Winning Strategies

How can the above tips and tricks really improve your game? The reality is that Connect 4 is not much a game of luck and chance. It is based on strategic moves and well-thought-out reactions by opponents. It really comes down to how you think and how you can plan ahead. 

Playing Connect 4 at a trade fair 1
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By learning a few extra tips and tricks to winning Connect 4, you can effectively increase your chances of winning. For me, that is well worth the time and effort involved. Below are 10 of the tips, tricks, and strategies that I have learned along the way…and that are currently helping me be the best Connect 4 player I have ever been. 

1. Always anticipate your opponent’s next move.

There is a great deal of strategy involved in Connect 4 – that is an undeniable fact. Being strategic involves being able to think ahead and almost guess what your opponent will do next. 

For first time players, I have noticed that the rack can be quite challenging. So, what’s one effective advice for first-time players? Well, it’s about giving the next move a lot of forethought. Before you take your turn, make sure that you consider what your opponent’s response to that move will be. This prediction can help you to decide if the move is actually a good one or not. Anticipating the next move in this way could help you win the game.

2. Plan multiple moves ahead of time.

Planning more than one move ahead is the best way to ensure that a win is more likely. You will find that every move in Connect 4 creates a reaction move from the opponent. You can use this to your advantage. Before you actually make a move, consider what the knock-on effect will be. Perhaps a move you make now will earn you a four in a row in 2 moves time, based on your predictions. Always think ahead – you only stand to gain.

Of course, you are not only looking for what your current move might open up for you in a few moves time. You are also looking at how any of your moves might possibly be positive for your opponent. You do not want to play a move that inadvertently spurs your opponent onto a win. 

3. Play the middle column.

Getting control of the center column is vitally important if you want to win in Connect 4. In fact, Connect 4 is a solved game, and playing the middle column is part of guaranteeing a win. I have personally found that when I gain control of the center column early on, my chances of winning are greatly increased. Why does having control of the center column increase your chances of winning? Well, the rules make it so. 

Intellectual board strategy game four in a row
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On a standard rack that has seven columns, any four connected pieces that are not vertical must include one game disc from the center column. If you control the center column, it is going to be hard for your opponent to connect any four of a kind that is not vertical. 

4. Block your opponent.

One of the best ways to ensure that you do not lose is to focus on ensuring that your opponent cannot win. Blocking your opponent is the best way to do that. You can defend against the opponent’s advances by placing your game discs into any slots that would allow them to complete a four in a row connect. While this will ensure that your opponent cannot win, it will also mean that you do not form any Connect 4s of your own.

5. Keep your eye open for game-ending spaces.

In my experience, there are times that the rack has a space on the board that would serve up a great Connect 4 to me or my opponent. It just depends on who plays there first. The game will be over as soon as that space is filled. A good strategy is to ignore all the spaces that are above the game-ending space in the very same column.

6. Avoid playing directly below a game-ending space.

If you play below a game-ending space, you might give your opponent the perfect opportunity to create a Connect 4 and win. Here is where you can be a little sneaky to ensure yourself a win. You can set up a Connect 4 in such a way that your opponent is forced to block your connect in the critical space. So, for most of the time, try to not play directly below a game-ending space. Rather force your opponent to do so.

7. Fork threats.

I have watched this one in action before and been astounded at how many times I have been caught out by it. Much like Tic-Tac-Toe, a forked threat provides you with a double opportunity to win and puts your opponent in an almost impossible position (actually, it is an impossible position for sure). 

Puzzle game, Connect 4, with red and yellow discs
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How do you fork a threat? Create two possible connects in two spaces – usually one on top of the other. This leads to a win because your opponent can block only one of your connects, leaving the second connect open for you to claim a victory. 

8. Use the opponent’s mistakes to your advantage.

A mistake is when a player does not block a player’s move and it ensures that they win. To prevent this from happening, you have to pay close attention to what is happening on the rack. If your opponent fails to block you, you have a winning opportunity that you can take advantage of. Do not get distracted during your game. Be fully engage. Your opponent’s distractions might put him at a disadvantage.

9. Play on the offensive.

Do not get caught up with only playing defensively. I have found myself focusing so hard on blocking my opponent that I forget to play offensively. This means that I miss out on making connections with my own discs. I am sure other players have found themselves doing the very same thing. 

Okay, so playing offensively is a good thing, but how do you do it? You can build outward rows horizontally. You can stack discs one on top of the other in order to form connections that are vertical. You can make diagonal connections using your rows and columns. Of course, be strategic about it. 

10. Practice, practice, practice. 

 If you only ever play Connect 4 on the days you want to win the game, chances are that you are not going to improve your game strategy very quickly. Try setting up the game rack in your spare time and practice, even if you have to play against yourself. It will help you to predict certain moves and experience first-hand what to do. Of course, if you have a partner or a friend around, encourage them to play with you casually.

The more you play the game, the more practice you will get and the better your chances of winning are the next time you play competitively.

Connect 4 Board Game Being Played On the Beach
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Last Word

If you want to improve your Connect 4 game, take the time to at least try the strategies above. The more you put these into practice, the more chance you will have of winning. Good luck and happy winning!