The great ancestor of Pente and
Renju is GO. GO originated in China some 4,000
years ago. The invitation of GO is commonly attributed to Chinese emperor
Shun, who reigned from 2255 to 2206 BC.
GO's popularity led to the development of many related games.
Among them Gomoku.
Gomoku was born in China. The game was played
as early as 700 AD. The translation "moku" is
Scientist in Japan are discussing if the very
old game kakugo mentioned in a writing from the year 100 A.D. is
a five-in-a-row game. When the first book on our game was
published in the year of 1858 A.D. the game was called kakugo.
The ancient Chinese game of WUTZU is also considered to be the
prototype of the Five-In-A-Row games.
When the players got stronger they found that
playing with the above mentioned "completely free"
rules was in great favor of Black (the beginner of the game). It
is also proved that there is a sure win for Black when playing
with "completely free" rules. In the year 1899 in Japan
the game Gomoku was balanced out for both players.
The new game was named Renju.
Renju means "string of five pearls".
However, the game Go-Moku has become even more
known than Renju for the Five-In-A-Row game played in families
and in schools. 1899 they tried to play with forbidden
double-threes for both players to make it more difficult to win.
To make a double-three is to make two threes with the same move.
To play in 1 is to make a double-three. It is
in principal impossible to stop it if the opponent only has to
defend himself. Playing with forbidden double-threes for both
players is still the only additional rule that is usual for
family games of Gomo-ku in Japan. However in the year of 1903 the
rule that only Black had restrictions was adopted i.e. only for
Black the double-three became not allowed.
In 1912 it was decided that Black will
immediately lose if he makes a double-three, even if it is as a
defense. In 1916 the rule that Black will lose the game if he
makes an overline i.e. a row with more than five stones. Usually
an overline consists of 6 stones in a row. To play in 5 is to
make an overline. 1918 it was decided that Black could not make a
4-3-3 i.e. a four and with the same move a double-three. However
making exactly five-in-a-row is never forbidden i.e. 5-3-3 is
allowed even if there were suggestions to adopt such a rule
especially about 1918.
In the first half of our century one great
player where appointed Meijin for lifetime (Now the Meijin of
Japan is the player who wins the yearly final match including 5
games and with the time limit 5 hours/player and game.) The 1st
permanent meijin was Takayama Goraku.The 3rd permanent meijin
Takagi Rakazan was also a very good Go-player and his dream was
to spread Renju outside Japan (You can read about him in the
famous book of Nobel prize winner Yasunari Kawabata ." The
Master of Go" , Penguin Modern Classics, pages 31,33,78). He
proposed two new rules. 1931 he proposed the change from Go-board
with 19x19 intersections to Renju-board with only 15x15
intersections. He also proposed a double-four (a move in 3) to be
forbidden for Black. These suggestions were discussed for many
years and a split into several organizations using different
rules occurred. The purpose of all suggestions to changes was of
course to reach equal winning chances for both Black and White.
In 1966 all the main organizations joined and
created Nihon Renju Sha which is still the Renju Federation of
Japan. At that time also some opening rules were decided.
On the date of August 8 of the year 1988
Renju International Federation (RIF)
was created in Stockholm,
Sweden. In the following year that it was created the first World
Championship of Renju took place in Japan.
The 1st World Championship of Renju took place
in Kyoto, Japan 1989. The second World Championship was organized
in Moscow 1991 and the third World Championship was played in
Arjeplog, in the north of Sweden 1993. In August 1995 the 4th
World Championship took place in Tallinn, Estonia. The winner of
the 1st and 2nd World Championship was Shigeru Nakamura from
Tokyo, Japan. The winner of the 3rd World Championship was Ando
Meritee from Tallinn, Estonia and the winner of the 4th World
Championship was Norihiko Kawamura, Japan. Many other
international tournaments have been organized since the start of
By now RIF has eight full members. It is Japan,
Russia, Sweden, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Latvia and White Russia. The
following countries have connection men but are not yet full
members: Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland,
France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mongolia, Netherlands, Norway,
Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Taiwan, Ukraine, USA, Uzbekistan.
Pente is a registered game owned by Parker
Brothers. 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 with participants only from USA. 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.