3 in a Row Game: Tapatan

Tapatan a 3 in a Row Game for kids

3 in a Row Game for Kids

Kiddo and I have been playing Tapatan, a three in a row game from the Philippines. It’s easy to learn how to play this strategic game for kids (and grown-ups!) and although it looks similar to tic-tac-toe, it is more fun. You can even cobble together a DIY version when you are on the go and need a quick distraction. I would recommend this game for ages 5 and up, but New Kid, who just turned 4 understands the rules and loves to play with me. (Although his game play is not sophisticated enough for his 8 year old brother to tolerate. Sigh.)

Instructions for Tapatan -- a 3 in a row game

Game Set Up:

Create a game board on a 6 inch square with bisecting lines as shown in the photo above.

Each player gets 3 counters (fig. 1). You can use coins, beads or pieces from other games (we used backgammon tokens).

Object of the Game:

To be the first player to get all of your tokens in a row. A row can be made horizontally, vertically or diagonally.


  • Players take turns placing a counter on a point (in fig. 2-4, red had the first move) until all counters have been played.
  • Once all counters are on the board, players take turns moving their counters from point to point in an attempt to get 3 in a row.
  • No jumping is allowed. Counters can only move to adjacent, empty points.
  • If the same 3 moves are repeated at least twice, a stalemate has been achieved and there is no winner.

Long-time readers of this blog (you’re the best!) know that I rarely take the time to make my DIY crafts beautiful but our original Tapatan game made on a sheet of paper started to become riddled with greasy fingerprints. So I took 10 precious minutes to make a sturdy version. And being the crafty lady that I am (not), I used sophisticated art materials like a Sharpie, a glue stick and cardboard.

Hey, I’m just saying it like it is.

What do you think, will you try this? Or maybe one of our other favorite math games?

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  1. says

    So in Figure 4, how many places can the red piece that is open move too? Trying to understand what ‘no jumping’ means, just other pieces or points as well.
    Looks like a fun game, can’t wait to try it out on my 6yr old. Thanks!

    • Mom and Kiddo says

      Good question. In figure 4 the red player has only one available move. He must move the bottom right piece up one. Unfortunately for him, the white player will then move the bottom middle piece to the bottom right corner and win. Hmmm, I don’t think this was a good game for red, at all. :) No jumping means that pieces can only move to adjacent, empty corners (I’ll add that clarification to my post, thank you). So in 4, the left two red pieces are stuck. Taking the middle space is the best move, which is why red was not off to a good start in this game!

    • Mom and Kiddo says

      Ooh, a video is a good idea. In the 1-4 photos, red makes the first play. So red put the counter down on the bottom left. Then white captured the center point. So on until all tokens are on the board (fig. 4). Then once the tokens are all played, players take turns moving their counters until someone gets 3 in a row (or a draw is called)

  2. Lisa says

    I actually found a free app on my ipad. I played a couple of times with both of my boys and it made perfect sense when playing it on the ipad since it won’t let you make moves that are not allowed LOL. I just finished making a bunch of these on poster board and my boys are giving them out for their Valentine’s. I used red and purple heart table scatter for the playing pieces 😉

    • MomandKiddo says

      I love the idea of giving them out for Valentine’s Day! And thanks for commenting, because it reminded me I still have to make the video!

  3. nik says

    this is a great little game! i just made one with my 8 year old daughter and she’s been playing with her 6 year old brother (who is much better with spatial games than she is.) they’re evenly matched and having a great time. making the gameboard itself was fun too, we used an old painting and drew over it. thanks!

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