Pente Instructions


Win by placing five (or more) of your stones in a row, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, with no empty points between them. Or, win by capturing five (or more) pairs of your opponent's stones.

Black wins with five in a row.


Play starts with the board completely clear of stones. The first player (black) begins the game by playing one stone on the center point. Thereafter the players take turns placing their stones, one at a time, on any empty intersection. The stones are placed on the intersections of the lines (including the very edge of the board), rather than in the squares. Once played, a stone cannot be moved again, except when removed by a capture. Players alternate turns adding new stones to the board, building up their positions, until one player wins.


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. The captured stones are removed from the board.

Captures can be made vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, and multiple captures can occur on a single move.

To capture stones
bracket your opponent
and remove the pair.


The game ends immediately when one player captures five pairs, or places five stones in a row. The opposing player has no “last chance” to make a final move.

When a player obtains an unblocked row of four stones, called a tessera, a win is imminent. Therefore, an unblocked row of three stones, called a tria, is a serious threat that should be blocked unless a stronger offensive move exists. An unblocked row of three stones, if it contains one gap, is still considered a tria. In the example to the right, black has formed both a horizontal and a vertical tria, while white has formed a tessera and will win with the next move.


It is a customary, but not mandatory, refinement of this game to announce “three” or “tria” when moving to make an open three, and also to call “four” or “tessera” when making four in a row. This is so that one's opponent does not forget to stop the formation of an open four, or five—because there is no fun in winning a game owing to the blunder of the adversary; at least there shouldn't be. The idea is to win in spite of one's opponent seeing every threat. Pointing out a player's errant move also demonstrates one's own confidence and mastery of play.


The Pente Net game engine will automatically remove bracketed pairs, track the number of pairs each player captures, and declare a winner when one player makes a winning move. The Pente Net system will keep track of your victories and defeats for you, so you can measure your progress. Good luck!

You can also learn the rules of Pente by playing practice games in which you control both sides.


Besides the standard Pente rules described above, we offer the following rule variations at Pente Net:

As in the standard rules, the first player's first move must be on the center point. To neutralize the advantage that the first player has, the first player's second move is restricted to playing three or more intersections away from the center of the board. All other rules of standard Pente apply.

The first player must move on the center point; all subsequent moves are open. In Keryo-Pente, when your opponent has three stones in a row, they can be captured just like pairs. Pairs can also be captured. Win by placing 5 or more stones in a row, OR by capturing 15 of your opponent's stones. (This differs from the standard rules, in which you only need to capture 10 stones to win.)

The first player's first move does not need to be on the center point; it may be anywhere on the board. The rest of the standard Pente rules apply.

The first player may again start anywhere on the board. Using these rules, pairs may captured, but they don't count towards a win. A player wins only by placing five or more stones in a row.

These rules are similar to Go-Moku. Pairs may not be captured, which means once a stone is placed, it remains on that spot until the end of the game. Players win only by placing five or more stones in a row. (Unlike Go-Moku, the first player's first move can be placed anywhere on the board, and placing six or more stones in a row also counts as a win.)


Do six stones in a row also count as a win?

Yes, placing six or more stones in a row wins the game. Likewise, capturing six or more pairs of your opponent's stones wins the game.

Can a stone be played on the edge of the board?

Yes, you may play on the very edge of the grid.

Can I break up five-in-a-row by capturing one of its stones?

No. When a player places the fifth stone in a row, he or she wins immediately. It does not matter if you could "capture across" the winning five-in-a-row, even if that would be your fifth capture.

If I form a pair between enemy stones, are my stones captured?

No, you cannot "capture yourself" by moving into a surrounded position. A pair is captured and removed ONLY when the opponent plays his or her piece onto a point bracketing the pair. If you play the second stone of a pair in between your opponent's stones, your newly formed pair remains on the board in a well-protected position.

Must the first move be on the center point of the board?

When following the standard and tournament rules, yes. It is customary to begin in the center to allow for maximum playing room in all directions. However, if you are not playing with standard or tournament rules, the first piece may be placed anywhere.

What size should the game board be?

Pente is traditionally played on a 19x19 grid, the game board inherited from the Japanese game of Go. On this site, we also use a 13x13 size board, for two reasons. First, a 19x19 board does not fit completely on many screens unless the grid is very small. Part of the beauty of Pente is in the appearance of its playing pieces, so instead of shrinking the stones down to mere dots, we reduced the size of the board. Second, a 13x13 grid increases the possibility of playing to the edge of the board, which adds an extra dimension of strategy.

Want a board larger than 19x19? Extreme Pente enthusiasts might consider following the lead of Swedish players who have created an "infinite grid" by attaching pieces of lined graph paper to their game board as needed, so that play can continue limitlessly in any direction!