Gomoku is a Japanese traditional logic board game related with the game of Gobang (which uses the same board and pieces), and it’s also known in English-speaking countries as Five in a Row. 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. The game is also popular in Korea, where it is called omok (오목(五目)) which has the same structure and origin as the Japanese name. It is said to have originated in China with the name Wu Zi Qi (五子棋). In the nineteenth century, the game was introduced to Britain where it was known as Go Bang or Pegity, said to be a corruption of Japanese goban, said to be adopted from Chinese k'i pan (qí bàn) 'chess-board'.
The rules of the game of Gomoku are in fact different and much simpler than the Gobang game and for this reason it’s a board game played mainly by children. But despite its simple rules Gomoku is a strategy and logic board game more complex and difficult than Tic Tac Toe (also called Nine Mens Morris) and the modern Connect Four.
It seems that this ancient strategy board game is more than 4000 years old and that its rules were developed in ancient China. But we can find a similar board game with same rules, also in the findings of ancient Greece and pre-Columbian civilizations of America.
Considered by many to be one of the world’s greatest strategy games, the Gomoku board game was brought to Japan around 270 BC, with the name of Kakugo (which means something like “five steps” in Japanese). Soon it became a national pastime, at least is described in this way by a book of 100 AD and it seems that every Japanese of the eighteenth century knew its rules. Japanese chronicles show that at the time of the late 17th and early 18th century Gomoku Narabe was at its height of popularity, being played by young and old alike. The first modern volume on this board game - called Kakugo - appeared in 1858.
The abstract Gomoku game is a classic board game of alignment, like the modern Connect four, and has also many variants, called with different names. The Gomoku board game was introduced into Europe around 1885 and became known in England by the name of Spoil Five, another popular variant of this classic board game in which the pieces are played in the boxes instead of in the intersections.
Computer search by L. Victor Allis in the 1990s has shown that on a 15×15 board regardless of whether overlines are considered as wins, black wins with perfect play.
Gomoku has a rich historical and cultural heritage, furnishes an accessible 'jumping-off' point into an interesting area of mathematics, and is playable by even children of age 4.
Besides, it’s darn fun!