A brief history of Gomoku

Gomoku game, also known as “Five in a Row” in English countries, is one of the simpler and more popular versions of the ancient board game of “GO”. But despite its simple rules Gomoku is a logic board game more complex and difficult than Tic Tac Toe and the modern Connect Four. This game is very thrilling and challenging and requires the tactical skills and strategies of being able to master the game.
The game is often called Gomoku but other names are known for example Kakugo, Gomoku-narabe, Itsutsu-ishi, gobang, morphion. Gomoku have been played on Go-boards since 2nd millenium B.C. and came to Japan from China in the 7th century.

The ancient Gomoku board
The ancient Gomoku board

The name “Gomoku” is from the Japanese language, in which it is referred to as gomokunarabe (五目並べ). “Go” means five, “moku” is a counter word for pieces and “narabe” means line-up.

Actually there are many variants of “Fife in a Row” games. The modern Gomoku game see at the photo below.

Gomoku board
Modern Gomoku board

The common rules of all five-in-a-row games are:

  1. Play alternates between one player who starts the game (usually called Black because he is playing with black stones in the intersections of a board with fifteen vertical and fifteen horizontal lines) and another player (usually called White because he is playing with white stones). The board has the limits 15×15 intersections but long ago the board had the same size as the Go-board i.e. it had 19×19 intersections. It is also possible to play writing crosses and circles in the squares of a piece of paper (usually a paper made for mathematical calculations) and then the ground to play on has no special limits because it is possible to add a new paper to the first and make the ground infinite as was usual in Sweden for example. Of course it is only possible to put the mark or the stone on an empty place.
  2. The first player to get an unbroken line of five stones (marks) whether vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, wins the game.

But the playing with the above mentioned “completely free” 1-2 rules was in great favour 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. So the additional rules was invented to make game more fair for the both players.

The professional variant of Gomoku was named Renju. The word “Renju” (連珠) comes from the Japanese language, and means “connected pearls”. This name was provided by Japanese journalist Ruikou Kuroiwa (黒岩涙香) on December 6, 1899 in a Japanese newspaper Yorozu chouhou (萬朝報).

The Renju International Federation (RIF) is an international organization which was founded in Stockholm, Sweden in August 8, 1988. The main purpose of the federation is to unite all the Renju and Gomoku national federations all over the world, organize international tournaments such as World Championships, together with other activities in Renju and Gomoku, and spread popularity of these great games in the world.
The official site of RIF is http://www.renju.net/index.php Here you can read the full “Five in a Row” rules, find tournament records, game records, player profiles, photos, videos, articles etc.

You can download Gomoku game with two different rules types from Google Play and play it online on our site and in VKontakte.

Interesting facts.