Connect 4 Winning Combinations


I have just watched a video on You Tube by Ania Kubow where she explains how to create a Connect 4 game by coding in JavaScript.
The video is here:
Connect Four in JavaScript - YouTube

What I would like to know is how to work out the winning combinations, can anyone assist?

Thanks in advance.

You mean how to tell if someone has won?

If I were building this, I would probably have a two dimensional array that starts out as undefined. Then I would add in a 1 or a 2, for first and second player. Then, at the end of each move, for that square, I would check in each of the eight directions. One simple way would be to grab the three in each direction, compact them into a string 7 chars long, then search for either “1111” or “2222”, depending. There are probably sexier ways to do it, but that works.

Is that your question?

Thanks for the reply. I don’t know if you have watched the You Tube video as Ania Kubow has an array named winningArray. I would like to know how she worked out all of the winning combinations.


They’re not “worked out”, they’re hardcoded / copy-pasted from somewhere. Presumably because that tutorial is more about DOM manipulation, while the problem to find the winning combinations is mostly an algorithm challenge.

Yes, in this file, she has:

  const winningArrays = [
    [0, 1, 2, 3],
    [41, 40, 39, 38],
    // ...

where she just wrote out every possible winning line.

Coming up with a way to detect that programmatically is something else. I offered a quick and dirty idea.

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Thinking on this a little more, if we wanted a more efficient algorithm…

There are eight directions, but we really only need to test half of those - if there is a line of four going south, that is also a line of 4 going north. Also, we don’t need to check every square - for example, if am working through the squares left to right and down, if I encounter a square and want to see if there is a line of four extending south, if there is a “positive” square to the north of it, there is no need to check because it would have already been checked once before.

So, I would work left to right and top to bottom. When I get to a square, I want to check lines going S, going E, going SE, and going SW. Before checking each of those, I peek at the square before it (so if I’m checking SE, I check the square NW) - if it is “positive” then I don’t need to bother checking. And of course, I only need to check the current player.

To me that is a nice clean algorithm that would be efficient. I can’t think of a way to make it more efficient, but maybe someone smarter than me can.

Thanks for the replies. Yes , I have seen the code on GitHub for this project. I just wondered whether there was a formula that anybody has used.

Thanks anyway.

She may or may not have used a formula, but in terms of implementation, she just wrote out every possible win. If it was tic tac toe, if this is the board:

0 1 2
3 4 5
6 7 8

Then a list would be:

  // horizontal
  [0, 1, 2],
  [3, 4, 5],
  [6, 7, 8], 
  // vertical
  [0, 3, 6],
  [1, 4, 7],
  [2, 5, 8],
  // diagonal
  [0, 4, 8],
  [2, 4, 6],

Those are the only possible wins, period. So, you just check if it matches. It’s a simple solution, if not particularly “elegant”. That’s what she’s done.

There are other ways to do it. I mentioned one. You could also generate this list dynamically.

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Thanks for the reply. The example you have given gives some clarity.

Thanks again

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