MM: You’re the inventor of Pentago, one of my favorite games, so please set the record straight, once and for all. How do you pronounce it? PENT-a-go? Or more like pent-AH-go, or even something else?
TF: I say pent-AH-go, but a lot of people say PENT-a-go. I wouldn’t say that one is more right than the other. The name consists – obviously – of the words penta and go (referring to Go-Moku), so I guess the ones saying PENT-a-go are more correct in that sense.
MM: Inventing a spectacular game like Pentago doesn’t just happen every day. What’s the story? How did you come up with the idea?
TF: The start of it was that I meet two guys in a bar that were bragging about a game they had created and that they thanks to that had bought a fancy sailing boat. I thought to myself that it couldn’t be too difficult to invent a game so I decided to give it a try. I had the idea in the back of my head for a couple of weeks but didn’t do anything about it. Then, at a meeting at work when I was just scratching patterns in my notepad Pentago just appeared. I went home and built the first Pentago out of ordinary printing paper and it worked.
MM: I’m afraid I only know this one fact about you. What can you tell me about yourself, Tomas? What do you do? What are your hobbies?
TF: I’m 39 year old Swede living in Stockholm, a father of two and married since 11 years. I have a background in Economics, but now work as CRO at a Swedish pension fund. I like to travel. Together with my family I visited New York (and Brooklyn) this summer, and we are right now on our way to Istanbul. Besides that, I like running.
MM: How much Pentago do you play these days? Aside from what’s in the strategy guide, can you share any insider game tips? How do you like to play?
TF: Unfortunately I don’t play that much any longer. I still like the game, but friends and family are less enthusiastic than they used to be (I can’t understand why?). My favourite opponent is my elderly brother since he wins 2 times out of 3 – but he has a background in mathematics.
My game tip is not to start in the middle of a square and keep your opponent on the defensive by always building new threats.
MM: Our blog is a math site for kids. What’s your own relationship to mathematics like? Do you consider Pentago to be mathematical?
TF: I have only taken a few courses at University level in mathematics, but I have always considered myself good at maths. I think that it’s an advantage to be mathematical to play Pentago and especially patterns. But I’ve also noticed that younger persons generally are better players than elder.