Today at our Board Games Club for Adults we played two games based on making squares, and three 5 in a row games.

We played Squares (Waddingtons, 1982). This is a three dimensional version of the game sometimes called Dots and Boxes which is played on paper. The grid is 4 x 5, giving a total of 20 squares. Initial set-up has all the blocks turned to red on one side, and white on the other side. The player who is looking at red has to make a white square, and vice versa. Players take it in turns to swivel one block. Whoever swivels the last block to make a square claims it with a peg of their colour. The player with the most pegs at the end is the winner.

We also played Territorie (Invicta, 1979). Invicta made Mastermind, Anna’s favourite game, and we think they invented this game to give another use to the coloured pegs. They were a plastics company after all! In Squares, a block is permanent once a square is made. In Territorie a player has two options: either add a new fence to the 8 x 8 grid, or swing an existing fence in any direction. When a player encloses a square with a fence on all four sides they claim it with their own colour peg. Again, the player with the most pegs at the end is the winner.

The 5 in a row games we played were: Pente, Pentago and Cavendish.

Pente (Parker, 1984) uses a 19×19 grid and the game is played on the intersections. If this makes you think of the game Go, you clearly know your board games. There are two ways to win: make a 5 in a row, in any direction; or capture five pairs of the other player’s beads. The method of capturing is “custodian capture”: you bracket two adjacent beads with one of your own at both ends. The strategy includes trying to make a 4 in a row which is open at both ends: the other player can block one end on their turn, leaving you free to complete the five at the other end.

Pentago (Peliko, 2005) has a board that twists. On their turn each player does two things: add one marble of their colour to the board, then twist one quadrant of the board through 90º. The game board is constantly changing, and the key is to set up the board so that you twist it to make a 5 in a row on your next move, hoping the other player cannot see what you are about to do.

We played Cavendish (Hiron Ltd, 1986) last week but it is such a good game we brought it back. The strategy is the same as Pente: make a 4 in a row which is open at both ends. It also has a capturing rule, but this one involves jumping over not bracketing two counters.