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Connect 4: 17 Fun and Intriguing Facts (You Need to Know…)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Child playing a traditional strategy game of connect 4
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How much do you know about your favorite family board game? For me, Connect 4 is a firm favorite, but when I put a bit of thought into it, I had to admit that I didn’t know very much about it over and above the rules. If you’re going to invest so much of your time and energy into something, perhaps you should learn a bit more about it. So, without much further ado, let’s learn a bit more about Connect 4.

First things first; to play Connect 4, two players drop discs into the rack (or playing board) to try to form a string of 4 of their own colored discs. It’s a simple concept, but can be challenging to achieve an actual “Connect 4. By learning the following facts about Connect 4, you’ll probably have a better understanding of the game.

While researching on Connect 4, I was quite surprised to learn a few of the facts that I did. Hopefully, the facts are just as interesting and entertaining to you. Are you ready to learn more about the Connect 4 facts that you didn’t know before? Read on!

17 fun and intriguing facts about Connect 4:

1. The first player of Connect 4 can win every time. 

You are probably thinking “whoa, how is that possible?” but it really is! Believe it or not, by following a certain sequence of moves, the player who makes the very first move can actually win the game, every time. There are about 2 trillion moves that you can make on the Connect 4 rack to get four in a row. If you manage to go first and play in the center column (in fact, you should aim to dominate the center column), you can win every single time.

connect 4 giant game board
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2. The official Connect 4 rack is a 6 row by 7 column rack.

Of course, the original Connect 4 rack is the most commonly used and consists of 7 columns and 6 rows. However, there are various size variations to choose from that are sold on the market. These include 5×4, 6×5, 8×7, 9×7, 10×7, and 8×8 variations, among others.

3. There are 42 official Connect 4 playing discs. 

How many game pieces do each Connect 4 players get when they start a game of Connect 4? When you set up the Connect 4 game, you will find 42 official game pieces inside the box. There are exactly 21 yellow (or black) discs and 21 red discs. Each player receives 21 playing discs of the same color.

4. Connect 4 has roots in Tic-Tac-Toe.

Have you ever thought that Connect 4 is similar to another game? Well, it is much like another pencil and paper game where marks need to be placed in a row: Tic-Tac-Toe. Much like Tic-Tac-Toe, Connect 4 is based on getting discs or game pieces in a row with restricted placement. 

Puzzle game, Connect 4, with red and yellow discs
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5. Players must place 4 of the same colored discus in a row to make a “Connect 4”. 

What exactly is a Connect 4 in the game and how does someone achieve it? In order for a player to achieve Connect 4, they must have 4 of their discs all in a row, touching each other. There can be no spaces, and the row must be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal, with no gaps. 

6. Connect 4 is designed for 2 players.

You might wonder how many people can play Connect 4. Can you invite the whole family over and play it as a group? Well, you can, but there would be a few spectators with each round. Connect 4 is not a team game. It is designed for 2 players to battle it out. However, there is nothing to stop you from forming teams and playing it that way. 

7. There are 4,531,985,219,092 possible positions on a traditional Connect 4 board. 

The number of game board positions on a standard 6 x 7 rack is the measure of complexity of Connect 4. It has been mathematically calculated that there are 4,531,985,219,092 possible positions on the standard game board/rack.

8. Legend says that Captain Cook was one of the first to play Connect 4.

Captain Cook. James Cook, A British explorer
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Yup, you read that right! Captain Cook is said to be one of the first to ever play the Connect 4 game. And he played it more than just once or twice. The legends that speak of Captain Cook playing Connect 4 say that he was addicted to the game that he spent many hours in his quarters playing game after game. He spent so much time playing it that the game was nicknamed “Cabin Mistress”. 

9. Milton Bradley trademarked the game in 1974.

Milton Bradley actually started his company in 1860 in Massachusetts. The company is known for its major contributions to the board game world. 

10. Connect 4 goes by many different names.

Connect 4 is not the only name that this game goes by. In fact, you might have heard Connect 4 called by one of its other names before, such as Captain’s Mistress (or Cabin Mistress), Plot Four, FourUp, Four in a Row, Drop Four, or Gravitrips. 

11. Connect 4 is a solved game.

Solved, you say? Yup, it’s true. It’s no longer just a rumor – Connect 4 has actually been solved. There is a solution to Connect 4, which means that if you follow a particular series of moves, you will win every time. 

12. Connect 4 was first solved by James Dow Allen on 1 October 1988.

There are several people who have managed to solve the Connect 4 game, but the very first to ever do it was James Dow Allen. James solved the puzzle of winning Connect 4 and went on to write a book on how to win at the game. If you want to learn a few tricks of the trade, reading his book might prove quite helpful. 

13. There are several variations of the Connect 4 game. 

Connect 4 is not a game that has remained stagnant over the years. You will find that there are several Connect 4 variants that have been played before, such as: Popout, PowerUp, and Five in a Row. 

woman playing the board game connect four with red and blue pieces
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14. The average Connect 4 game takes 1 to 10 minutes to play.

You might wonder what you are in for when it comes to playing Connect 4. Is the average game just a few minutes long, or will you be stuck in front of the game rack for hours at a time? Most people take around 1 to 10 minutes to complete a game of Connect 4. However, newbies to the game can take a bit longer while they are still learning. The more you play Connect 4, the easier it gets. 

15. Hasbro has produced Giant Connect 4.

Connect 4 has gotten larger than life in more recent years. Hasbro, who sells Connect 4 at current, has produced a Giant Connect 4 version. This version of Connect 4 is supersized and is suitable for outdoor use.  

16. Nowadays, Connect 4 can be played online. 

Connect 4 is a game that is moving with the times. Most people want to play their favorite games on their mobile phones and on their laptops and desktop computers online…and now they can. There are various places where you can play Connect 4 online. One particular portal is ConnectFour.org. You should check it out – there’s no need to register to play. 

17. There are annual Connect 4 game tournaments held across the globe.

Who said Connect 4 is a trivial game? It’s actually a recognized game that people enter tournaments to win. There are Connect 4 Tournaments held annually across the globe.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.