Finding Pickup Games


In public places where folks gatherer you can sometimes find games to play. In parks, pubs, cafes, and clubs there is the opportunity to find people to play with. These causal games are sometimes called pick up games. But even when surrounded by people playing ,asking someone you do not know to play can be very intimidating. So here are some tips to help you encourage folks to play a game with you.

When approaching a game in progress look for protocol or rituals that may be happening during the game. For example in some places with a coin operated pool table, the person who wants to play next puts the coins for the next game on the rail. Are new players replacing the ones that lost or is this more like a game between old friends. You may also want to look for any house rules that are in play. Finding out what the social rules gives you a better chance of being invited to play

When going to a place where there are regular games bringing your own equipment helps. With your own game equipment you no longer have to wait for for other players to finish before start to play. Having your own equipment also telegraphs that you are interested in playing not just watching. In some circles the person who owns the equipment has the option to invite or refuse games. Having your own equipment when looking for games provides more opportunities to play.

When there is no one around you is playing all is not lost. Then it is time to practice to the fine art of fishing for a game. Fishing for a game is technique for encouraging other people to join you for a game.

To fish for a game you need to pick the right spot. Look for a place where it is alright to hang out. This place should have a good flow of people who may be interested in playing a game. Cafes with book shelves of games and parks where you have seen people playing in the past are good bets. I have even had good luck playing Xiangqi in some of the Chinese food restaurants around where I live. When fishing for a game success often depends on the proper location.

Now that you have picked your spot it is time go fishing. Set up your game where the people around you can see. While you are waiting do something fun like people watch, read, or maybe work out a position on your game board. When someone shows an interest in your game ask them if they know how to play. If they do invite them to, if not offer to teach them.

Playing a pick up game with someone you just meet can be a lot of fun. So keep these tips in mind and give to a try.


Gomoku and Renju


Gomoku is a popular game among young and old in Japan. Played on a Go board ,which is a grid of 19 lines by 19 lines. The playing area for Gomoku is only 13 by 13 so if you do not want to make a custom Gomoku board just ignore the three intersections on the outside edge of a regular Go board.

Players 2
A 13 X 13 Go board
White and black Go stones
How to play
The players take turns placing a stone of their color on an intersection of the Go board.
The person playing black plays first.
Once they are placed they can not be moved.
The first player to make an unbroken line of exactly fives stones horizontally, vertically, or diagonally wins.
More then five stones in row is called an overline, and does not win.

It probably will not take long to figure out that the person playing black has the advantage in Gomoku. To fix this the problem the game Renju was invented. It is played like Gomoku but with these differences.

1. It is played on a 15 X 15 Go board.

2. To start the game one player places a black stone on the center intersection of the board and a white stone on one of the eight intersections surrounding the black stone. The same player puts a second black stone on a point no more than two intersections away from the first black stone.. See the photo below for a example of a opening move.


Next the other player decides if the want to play white or black. The white player then places one white stone anywhere on the board. Afterwards black player places two black stones anywhere on the board. The White player then removes one of the last two Black stones before taking their next turn. Players then take turns placing one stone of their color on the board. The first player to make an unbroken line of fives stones horizontally, vertically, or diagonally wins

3. There are two restrictions for the person playing black.

The first is black can not in one move make two open-ended rows of three or two open ended rows of four. To demonstrate this in the photo below black could not place a stone where the yellow chip marked A,B,or C is placed.

The second is black can not make a row of six or more stones in a row. In the photo below black can not place a stone where the D chip is placed because it would make a line of six or more stones in a row. White does not have these restrictions and can win by making a row of five or more stones or forcing black to make an illegal move.


The restrictions on black and the equalizing opening make Renju a more fair and complex variation of Gomoku. In fact it has a strong enough following to host it’s own world championship. So find yourself a board and give it a try.

A different way to play online


There is no shortage of web pages that will let you play traditional games online. You may even have your choice of playing a live opponent or a computer. But there is another way to enjoy traditional games online. You can use video calling.

Playing a game with video calling software has some interesting advantages. You can see and talk to the person you are playing on your computer. It can be a fun way to interact with a friend who is too far way to play with. It can also make it so you can play variations of some of your favorite games that have not been made programs online.

Some school chess clubs have been playing matches with clubs around the world using video calling. The clubs call each other on their computer. Then each player takes their turn by telling the opponent what piece he is moving and to which square. The squares are identified by standard algebraic notation.

You can can use video calls to play other games the same way. Try playing Shogi, Xaingqi, or Oware. Games with dice can be played if you aim the camera so you can see the roll. That means we can add games like Backgammon, Liars dice, and Cublilete to the list of games to try.

Video calling can be a useful tool for your modern gamer. So why not call up an old friend for game.



Cubilette is a dice game popular in Cuba. Do not worry If you do not have poker dice, regular dice will work fine. Make ones wilds and the five of a kind of the biggest number wins.

Players 2- 10
A dice cup
5 poker dice
How to play:
The players roll 1 die and the player who rolled highest goes first. Poker die faces represent these ranks, from highest to lowest– Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, and 9.

The first player rolls five dice trying to roll the highest five of a kind.

A player may leave some dice on the table and re-roll the dice up to three times.

Aces are wild and can be used for any number

The player with the highest five of a kind wins the round and is the only player to score.

Unless a player rolls a five kings the new round is started by the last player to roll.


Five aces automatically wins the game
Five kings without aces are worth 5 pts you automatically win the round and are the first to roll next round.
Five kings with aces are worth 2 points. The player automatically win the round and is the first to roll next round.
Five Queens, jacks 10, or 9 are worth 1 point.

The winner of the game is the first to score 10 points.