When I was a kid, my cousins received the game Pente for Christmas. I was intrigued by the glass beads and intricate artwork on the board. Unfortunately, we played it very little and forgot it. But from time to time, I have thought of it over the years and wondered what it really was and if it would be fun now that I’m older. When I saw it at the second hand store, I knew that I had to have it. 

The box states that Pente is an easy to learn but hard to master game. This claim is certainly true. Pente is a little similar to crackers. It is a two player game and you can capture the other player’s pieces. But that is where the similarities end. 

How to Play

Each player get a colour of glass beads. The first player then places a bead on the centre of the grid game board. Beads are placed on the intersection of lines as opposed to the squares. Then, the second player chooses a spot to play and play continues in this fashion.

The first bead is placed int he center of the board.
The first player places her bead in the middle intersection.


Now on to how to capture beads. To capture a pair of your opponent’s beads, two of their beads must be sitting beside each other. If you place one of your beads on either side of the pair, you have captured them. They are then removed and kept aside. Beads can be captured horizontally, vertically, and diagonally.

A line of red, yellow, yellow, makes it so that red can capture the two yellow beads.
Red can place a bead on the other side of the two yellow beads and capture them.

Once the a pair had been removed, those spots on the board are fee to be played in. If your opponent places two beads in between your beads, you do not capture them and the beads stay on the board.

Yellow can replace her beads back in the spot where red captured them
Yellow can now safety place a bead back in the spot where one of her beads was captured.

 It is possible to capture more than one pair at a time.

two sets of beads can be captured at the same time
Red can capture two sets of yellow’s beads by placing a bead on the center marker.


Now onto how to win the game. There are two ways to win a game of Pente. The first way is to get 5 (or more) beads in a consecutive line. 

The second way to win, is to capture 5 pairs of your opponent’s beads.

Getting five bads in a row wins the game
Yellow wins by getting five in a row!


Although it is not mandatory, it is polite to announce when you make an open ended three in a row. This gives your opponent a chance to block, increasing the difficulty and kill of the game.

when makeing a line of threee that is not blocked it is polite to announce open three
It is polite for red to announce that she has made an open three


Pente is a challenging game of strategy. Games can be fast–over in just a few moves, or they can take half an hour to play. At first, the less then strategic-minded members of our family didn’t care for this game. but after playing a little more, we all enjoy the challenge of this game. Pente will be staying on our Family Game Shelf.


Rating of four out of six dice
Five out of six dice rating


Five out of six dice rating


Pros – easy to learn, quality (our copy is from 1982, ha been well played and is still in good shape)
Cons – players need t be at somewhat equal levels to play, the beads can be easily disturbed
Mom – critical thinking, math patterning

If Pente sounds like a game your family would enjoy, you can purchase a copy from Amazon.

If you are feeling crafty, you could make your own Pente game with items that are already in your house. Instructions can be found in the DIY section of Family Game Shelf.

For more fun games to play, check out our game reviews, card games and dice games. Tried Pente? Let us know how you liked it in the comments!

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