Pente and Ninuki-Renju

Pente is a registered game owned by Parker Brothers and the Swedish Association has got the permission from PlayMix AB (The Swedish distributor of the game) to write about it.

The main rules of Pente

A. There are two ways to win the game:

1. Win by getting five-(or more)-in-a-row, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, with no empty points between the stones, or

2. Win by capturing five (or more) pairs of your opponents stones.

B1. White starts in the center intersection.

B2. The 2nd move i.e. the 1st move for Black can be put anywhere.

B3. the 3rd move Black must make outside the zone of 5x5 intersections with the same center as the center of the whole board. The 5x5 zone is a prohibited zone.

C. Whenever your opponent has two stones (and only two) which are adjacent, those stones are vulnerable to capture. The pair can be captured by bracketing its two ends with your own stones.
D. A stone may legally be played onto any empty intersection, even if that point has been previously occupied, and even if forms a pair between two enemy stones. No capture is made by the enemy in that case.

E. Multiple captures are legal.

F. A Pente-board has 19 vertical and 19 horizontal lines like the Go-board.

G. White starts the game (which differs from Renju and Go).

Pente was introduced by Gary Gabrel from Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA in the end of the nineteen seventies and Pente became very popular in the USA in the first half of nineteen eighties and in the USA also World Championships were arranged, but as I know with participants only from USA. We also arranged for six years Swedish Championships. I won two times. I do not know about the popularity in USA by now. In Sweden we have a few players but very little or almost none serious competitions. Maybe we will arrange Swedish Championship again if there will be enough interested players. Among the best players of Pente in the USA there were discussions whether the rules of Pente are enough to get equal chances for White and Black. The World Champion Rollie Tash thought that White had a sure win and proposed a change of the rules. He proposed Keryo-Pente or taking up some of the rules of renju into pente.

Some books on Pente were written by Tom Braunlich, former World Champion. I also made a compendium on openings and about other literature on Pente in Swedish. In 1987 it was meant to found a World Association but of some reasons this association was never founded. I wrote the International Rules of Pente for this association. These rules were never adopted but the work of constructing them is done. If several people are interested I can publish them.

Rules of Keryo-Pente

Keryo Pente uses the same rules as regular Pente, except that

h. 3-in-a-row may also be captured in addition to regular pair captures

j. To win one must get either 5-in-a-row or capture 15 stones.


Pente is similar to a game that in Japan has the name "Ninuki-Renju" or "Chosen (Korean) Gomoku"(but as I have heard this game is not from Korea). This game has the same rules as Pente (except from the opening rule which probably has not been used). However in Ninuki-Renju some other additional rules are used. The game of Ninuki-Renju had its own organization Ninuki Renju Sha in Japan 1923-1940 but as far as we know by now this game has no association in Japan so the rules may differ from family to family. The additional rules of Ninuki-Renju are:

H. The first to form a "perfect 5" or capture five pairs is the winner.

I.Black starts as in Renju. If a five is made and after that White takes a capture and destroys the five there is no win. This is called an "unperfect 5". However the destroying of the unperfect five must be made with the move immediately following the five.

J. The first player (or sometimes both players) is not allowed to form a double-three, unless it is necessary to do so when destroying an "unperfect 5".

K. An "overline" (six or more stones in a row) does not win and remains neutral (the same rule as e above).

L. A rare case occurs when a fifth capture gives the opponent a five. This occurs when one stone is captured away from a 6-in-a-row, thus leaving 5. In this case, the game is draw.

Ninuki-Renju is mentioned at pages 50,78,85 in the book "The Master of Go" by Nobel Prize Winner Yasunari Kawabata.

Do you want to find other Pente or Keryo-pente players?

Go to Richardīs play by mail server!

Writings about Pente

Many players around the world are asking for Pente writings and as we can understand at least the writings and newsletters by the former U.S.Pente association are very difficult to find. As the U.S. Pente association ceased for more than 10 years and as it is a pity for enthusiast that it is so difficult to find the former writings we have made some gifs (sometimes jpegs) of some of the most interesting writings by the former U.S Pente association. You can find them from a special page. On this page you will also find a list of pente writings.

World Champions of Pente

All Swedish Championships of Pente

The International Rules of Pente - The 1987 Proposal

Other sites about Pente

  1. The company Decipher has made some pages about Pente
    From one Decipher page about Events you can find 8 photos with comments from the Pente 20th Anniversary Championship. Results:
    1.Bodo Konze
    2.Rollie Tesh
    3.Tom Braunlich
    4.Aaron Fortune
    22 players turned out for the event commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Pente
  2. World Pente Players' Association Home Page
  3. Mark Mammelīs  Web site about five-in-a-row-games
  4. Pentango, a shareware including Go-moku, Pente and Keryo-pente (for Win95/98 and WinNT 4.0)