MM: Let’s talk about “Monica’s Five” first. You’re that Monica!?! How did you end up with a Pentago strategy named after you?
ML: Yes that’s me! Well it all started because the owner and president of MTUSA Tony Mag is highly competitive. He prides himself on the fact that he beat Tomas, the inventor of Pentago at his own game. So when I would sit down to play Tony, I knew that he would have a different logic than me, and well frankly he was out to win… but so was I! You could say we’re both a bit competitive, after all why play the game if it’s not to win? I would go in with a simple strategy, one that was sneaky, yet quite obvious, Trojan horse like. It worked, not just once but almost every time I would play that move on him. This won me the title Monica’s Five.
MM: Somewhat unfortunately, Monica’s Five (your five) is known to be the weakest and most easily blocked strategy in the game. Does that ever bother you? Do you still use that strategy much?
ML: Weak yes, yet very effective at times. Fortunately I pride myself on my weaknesses; I’ve learned in life you can turn a great weakness in to one of your greatest strengths if harnessed properly. I do use Monica’s Five still but not all the time, it really depends on my opponents strategy.
MM: I’ve been told you’re a “fierce Pentago player.” Can you confirm the rumors? How much do you play?
ML: Refer to my first answer; I’m pretty competitive when it comes to playing games and yes even fierce. Not too many people beat me. I would like to play more than I do, but running MTUSA keeps me pretty busy and unless I hunt down people to play me, it really only happens on occasion. One of my favorite times to play Pentago is when we go to tradeshows, especially consumer shows like Gen Con in Indianapolis, Indiana. We run our National Pentago Tournament there and I not only get to watch and referee some hardcore Pentago games but I get to play some of the really great players outside of the tournament, it keeps me building my Pentago skills, it’s so much fun!
MM: Can you share any insider Pentago tips? How do you think about the game? What kind of player are you?
ML: Two things, first, it’s much easier to play and think on the offensive. One of the strongest plays is the open four and you can start off building toward that, but if you have a player that is on the same page as you then, boom, your running defense, however, that is when a Monica’s Five can save the day. Second, to get better at Pentago, you must play people that are better than you.
What kind of player am I? Hmmm… I guess you could say I’m an observer; I like to notice what my opponent is doing both on the board and in their body language, for me it’s kind of like playing poker.
MM: You’re also the CEO of Mindtwister, the company that sells Pentago. What’s that like?
ML: Even though it’s a LOT of work, I get to have a LOT of fun. When I was a kid I loved both card and board games. I think I owned all the ones they sold at the time, I constantly played them, and yes I had to hunt down people to play back then too! Some things never change. Growing up and being part of such a great company in the game world, makes me realize, I haven’t really grown up at all, it’s really pretty cool!
MM: Our blog is a math site for kids. What’s your own relationship to mathematics like? Do you consider Pentago mathematical?
ML: Math is one of the most important and necessary skills anyone can learn! I love math and I will admit that it was one of my biggest weaknesses in school but I kept the course and thankfully I had a mathematician and economist for a step Dad, he was pretty good at making sure I got good grades in that subject. Sure, Pentago has a mathematical component to it, it was invented by a financial analyst, need I say more?