Pente resembles the games of Othello and Reversi--but only in appearance. Two players compete in attempting to create a sequence of five of their own colored tokens in a row. The pieces are played on a game board consisting of a grid. Players can place pieces anywhere on the board on their turn. Strategic plays include creating sequences of their own color or capturing their opponents pieces.
Build in Threes
When playing Pente, building lines of three stones in a row of your color is very important. This gives you the chance to start to make plays in which your opponent has to defend against your strategy instead of you defending against his. Once you have three stones in a row, your opponent will have to consider blocking one of your opportunities to place four stones in a row. If he does not do this, once you have four stones in a row, you may have two sides to build upon for your fifth stone and he can only block one. If your opponent does block one path for your stones once you have three, place a fourth stone on the other side, which will require him to block you again. By creating sequences of three stones in a row of your color, you can keep your opponent reacting to your play instead of developing his own offensive plays.
Build Near Your Other Combinations
Blocking single lines of stones in Pente is not very difficult. The challenge becomes when a player starts creating squares, where they have two or three stones in a row of their own color. At this point you can use multiple rows or diagonals to build upon. Having multiple options makes it more difficult for an opponent to determine your strategy. It also gives you other options to build upon once your opponent blocks one of your rows. By building with multiple lines of your stones close to each other, it will once again keep your opponent on the defensive. As they block your potential winning combinations, their chances to build rows of their own color will be limited because you already have control of the neighboring spaces.
Watch how your opponent is setting up his rows. When you do not have a play that will benefit you, make a play to hinder your opponent's strategy. Determine where she might want to place her next piece. Place yours there instead. Playing defensively will help you limit the number of three piece sequences your opponent can create, reducing his chances to build longer sequences to win the game.
If you are having difficulty creating rows of your pieces that will help you win the game with five pieces in a row, start capturing pairs of your opponents pieces. To capture an opponent's pieces you must place your pieces so exactly two of hers are in between your two pieces. If you capture five pairs during the game you will win. Unlike the games of Othello or Reversi, the stones do not change to your color, instead they are removed from the playing area.
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