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entolla.com - Frequently Asked Questions.


. Getting started (for new players)
. How can I get some help getting started?
. How do I choose a suitable opponent?
. How do I play?
. Starting a game
. How much time for a game?
. Random seating
. Making moves
. What are 'rooms'?
. What is the difference between Rated and Unrated games?
. Why is quitting a game such a big (bad) deal?
. What sounds are made by the game?
. How can I alter the sounds, colors or appearance?
. Can I disable the low time warnings?
. Can a disconnected player continue his game?
  . What is Demo Mode?
. Are there any rules variations to add variety to the games?
. What is Duplicate Mode?
. What do the little symbols by players' names mean?
. Why are some players' names in gray-italics?
. How do I add a flag by my name?
. What are the little icons on the game screen?
. What information is available about the players?
. How do I send a private message?
. How do I invite someone to join my table?
. How do I remove someone from a playing seat?
. Can I suppress the chat of a particular player?
. The chat boxes or the game board disappeared. How do I get them back?
. Can I tell when a line of chat appeared?
  . Can I enter the site as a guest without logging in?
. Is there a robot or computer player?
. Do the pieces have names?
. How do I change my password?
. Can I save a game in a file?
. When is the best time to find a game?
. Which countries do players come from?
. Can the site generate random numbers? What for?
. Which browsers are supported?
. The "old site" had <such-and-such feature>
. What about the game with triangles?
. How long has this site been going?
. Why is it called pentolla.com?
. How do I report a problem?
. Where I can learn about strategy and tactics?
. What about languages other than English?

How can I get some help getting started?
Great! You found your way to this page, which has lots of helpful information.

But it IS rather a lot to take in at once, you should probably look it over quickly to get an idea of what is here, so you can come back to it when you have a question.

Start with the sections which have their heading in blue (like this one), as those are the ones most useful to new players. The others are either about the site in general, or 'extras' which can make playing easier or more convenient, but which don't need to be learned right away.

If you still have questions, you can ask other players for help.

Just be polite and friendly, and most players are willing to have a quick chat, and especially to talk about games. Try something along the lines of, "I'm new here. Can someone help me get started?" You might be surprised how many people are willing to give you a hand.

How do I choose a suitable opponent?
It often seems to new players that everyone here is an expert at the game, but there are a number of things you can do to help get started:

You can try to play against the computer player, Tollie. Tollie is certainly not an expert, and often a good match for beginner players.

Take note of the little icons by the players' names in the lobby. You might not want to start by playing one of the top players!

You can also try asking any expert players for help. Many players here (though probably not everybody) are more than happy to watch a game with you, and discuss some of the moves that are being made to help you understand. Watching games is a fantastic way to learn, and being able to ask questions while you watch is a great learning experience. Remember, sometimes you might catch someone who is busy at the moment, speaks a different language than you, or just doesn't feel confident enough to help, so don't give up easily. Message a few different people and, making sure to be friendly and polite, ask for help - you might be surprised at how many are willing to help you.

Also, it will be much easier for them and for you if you learn the names of the pieces!

Most importantly, don't get discouraged! The learning curve starts shallow, but then gets steep pretty quickly - in other words, it might take a little bit of time before you start to notice major improvements to your game, but once you do, they will happen very fast, and it won't be long before new players think of YOU as an expert.

You can find a lot of helpful information on the two blogs which players have written about strategy and tactics.

How do I play?

Lobby:

After you log in, you are in a room lobby, from which you can start or join games.

Game varieties are as follows:

To start a new table, click "Make table" at the upper left.
Then choose the type of game, and the time limit for each PLAYER (or team).

If the match is part of a tournament, check the box "Tournament game", and the table will be so indicated within it and in the lobby.

To join an existing game, click one of them on the left side of the lobby,
in the section labeled "Games".

The boxes are color coded:


Players are shown in the middle: green icon means "in the lobby", yellow icon means "watching a game", red icon means "in a playing seat".
Player names in gray italics indicate an 'inactive' player, who is not playing or away from their computer.
Click either the 3-colors icon or [ABC] to get them ordered by availability, or by name.

Having joined or created a game, you are then at a table.

Choose a seat by clicking the little chair icon for the color of your choice.

Starting a game

When all seats are taken, players click "START" to begin the game.
For two-way games (C2, Teams, and 2-colors), it is customary to play a second game with colors reversed, and that option ("REMATCH") is presented at the conclusion of each game. Using it automatically switches the players' seats; in a teams game, blue and green swap, as do yellow and red.

Here's a video of a complete 2-colors game posted by player Magicolo.

How much time for a game?
When creating a table, the time limit, per side, can be chosen up to 30 minutes.

Timers are per side (single player or team), and NOT per color!

A typical 2-colors game would be 7-10 minutes per player, and for C2, double that.

Shorter times require faster play. Long thinkers prefer the longer times.

A few players enjoy really fast games, and for them, the time limit can be as low as one minute, but, for C2 especially, anything below 5 minutes is not sufficient, and even that can be a mad rush.

When a player or team is playing two colors (C2 or CT games), a single clock is shared by both colors, whether they are being played by one player or two teammates. For those games, 14-20 minutes is a typical choice.
Beginners should generally opt for games *at least* that long.

Random Seating
In some circumstances, it may be desirable to leave the choice of who plays which colors to chance -- say in a tournament, where you will play two games and each player has the same preference for which he prefers to play first, or in 4-player games.

On such occasions the Table Owner (the player who created the table), has the option to use the reseat button which makes the assignment randomly. If any players have already clicked, START, they will have to do so again, after the reseating occurs. The option is only available for the first of a series of games.
Table Owners can also remove players from seats (see below).

Making moves

Pieces are chosen directly from the supply boxes at the left,

There are two ways to then play a piece, designed for 'normal' mouse-equipped computers or for touchscreen devices.
For playing, pieces can be rotated and flipped in several ways:
1) mouse wheel, 2) space bar, 3) special keys, or 4) by clicking the arrows which surround it in the Piece Selector below the board.
Detailed instructions for making moves are available by clicking the Pentolla P icon which appears when you are at a table.

You can select and position pieces at any time during the game, during your own turns, of course, and also during your opponent's turn. But watch out for unexpected moves by your opponent. It can also be useful, when trying to pack two colors to put a piece of either color in place temporarily to see how they'll fit.

When no more moves are possible



Eventually, each color reaches a point where no more moves are possible, and when that happens, its turns are automatically skipped.

At that time, also, the appearance of the unplayed pieces changes: they become darker and the dividing lines between squares disappear.

You can rearrange the pieces within the supply boxes.



This is useful if you want to save pieces to play in a particular place later or are planning out a series of plays. The saving-for-later pieces can be set aside so they are not accidentally played somewhere else.

How to do it:

1) Select a piece by pointing to it and pressing the mouse button.
2) Hold The Mouse Button Down while dragging the piece around.
3) Release the button to 'drop it' in a new place.

The piece (whether it was moved or not) becomes the Selected Piece and can be played at the proper turn.

NOTE: Pieces do not re-orient in the supply boxes.

It is inadvisable to overlap pieces within the supplies, as it can cause confusion when choosing pieces. The stacking order (which pieces fall on top of other pieces in case of overlap) is fixed, and it makes no difference in what order pieces might have been moved.

Note, also, that you can "lose" pieces (or appear to) if you drag them to the edges of the supply box, they can wholly or partially disappear. Careful inspection will usually reveal a remnant along the edge, but in any case, clicking RESET will bring them back 'home'.
Clicking the word "RESET" within a supply box returns all the pieces in that set to their original positions.
Adjusting the size of the window will also return all sets of pieces to their original positions.

Both players and Observers have this capability, as often
someone following along finds it useful to anticipate future
plays and see which pieces might be left over.

An annotated screen shot of the game is available. Moving the mouse pointer around the picture provides information about the features via small popups.
What are 'rooms'?
Rooms are divisions of the playing universe with different rules and playing conditions.

At present, there are two rooms, called Challenge and Practice.

The Challenge room allows for Rated and Unrated C2, Teams, and 2-colors games and is restricted to players logged in with a player name. Designated tournament games are limited to the Challenge room.

The Practice room also allows anonymous Guests to play; games there are all unrated, and do not count toward stats, or, of course, points. Additionally, C4 games (for four individual players) are limited to the Practice Room.

The /who and /find commands are useful in locating players across the entire server, and you can also send private messages to players in another room.

What is the difference between Rated and Unrated games?
The results of Rated games are recorded and counted in Game Statistics and Player Ranks (see next topic). Unrated games do not count towards rankings, but can be included in the statistics counts.
Why is quitting a game such a big (bad) deal?
Our policy is that all games should be played to completion, especially Rated games. Players expect that their opponents won't abandon a game before the end.

Even if you are losing a game badly, or have no more moves possible, you should stay to the end. (You can put your attention elsewhere, but do stay in your seat so the other player can play on.)

The reason for this is that games cannot be recorded properly unless they finish. The actual final score is important. If a player has a game 'won', he deserves the credit for his effort, so it is important that he get it.

Recording of abandoned (Rated) games

A counter of unfinished games is maintained for each player. When a player does leave a game early, the remaining player has the option of having that count updated. (This applies only to Rated 2-person games, not Teams, C4,or Unrated games.)

Players should use judgment about the opponent and the situation before doing so, especially with new players who might not realize they are violating the policy - or that there is a policy!

Some players have less-than-robust internet connections, which cause them to disconnect frequently. They should not be penalized for that.

Also, you must wait 5 minutes before you can register the quit, in order to give players who are disconnected a chance to return and resume the game, as described in the preceding section.

You can determine a player's 'track record' as follows:
- on the list of players (in the lobby or the "send private chat" list) click the 'red bars' icon next to their name, and then choose "View Points". Along with their current ratings, the number of 'unfinished games' is displayed. This gives you an idea if this is a rare or frequent occurrence.

What sounds are made by the game?
These are the sounds that are made by the game:

If the sounds are not heard when they should be, perhaps you have disabled them or have the sound level down.

To check if sounds are turned on, click the icon, once or twice. Stop when you hear the click sound - it indicates that sounds are enabled.

Check the sound level: open the Display Options, and click the slider bar where it says "Sound Level" in several places until the sound is set to where you want it.

How can I alter the sounds, colors or appearance?
Can I disable the low time warnings?
Click "Display Options" on the login page or the lobby,
which brings up a panel of choices you can make.
Can a disconnected player continue his game?
YES!

Disconnections have plagued this game since at least 2005,
as they meant having to start over, which was time consuming and error prone.

At last (in 2012), disconnections are less of a problem because
when the player returns, he can take his former seat, and
the game can continue where it left off.

When all players are seated, START and RESUME buttons are
presented. All players must click the same button:
- RESUME to continue the game from the interruption
- START to begin a new game from an empty board.

Depending on the cause of the disconnection, it might take a while
for a disconnected player to return. To avoid penalizing them,
timers are reset to the beginning of the interrupted turn.

This is intended to ease the problem of UNINTENTIONAL disconnections,
not as a way for players to save a losing game, or avoid running out of time!

Players should not use this feature as a way of getting extra time!
It is more or less up to the other player(s) to enforce that,
since all must agree to continue the game.

For 4-player games (C4 or Teams), or DEMO tables, or in the Practice Room, the game can resume with different player(s), however for 2-player games in the Challenge Room, only the original players can continue an interrupted game.
What is Demo Mode?
Demo Mode is where one player plays all the colors.
It can serve a number of purposes: Demo Mode "games" do not count, of course, since there is only one player, and Demo tables don't have timers.

There is also one extra feature available in Demo Mode: undoing a move. By clicking the icon (which only appears in Demo Mode), the most recently made move is taken off the board, and the game reverts to its previous state. It can be used as many times in succession as desired, but there is no automatic replay going forward, you simply repeat the same, or make new, moves manually until the end of the game. After a final move ending the game, moves can no longer be removed.

Are there any rules variations to add variety to the games?
A few "special-rules" games have been developed in the player community over the years. They are described on the variations page.
What is Duplicate Mode?
Duplicate is a variation on the game where the first few moves are pre-set. It adds some variety to play, because in general play a few starts are used with high frequency, leading to many similar games.

There are two variants, "Daily" and "Random". In each case, the first 3 moves for each color are chosen from among a large set of pre-set starts.

With "Daily Duplicate", the chosen start changes just twice a day, at 6h and 18h GMT.

With "Random Duplicate", a start is chosen each time a table is created. By default, the start remains fixed for that table during its current lifetime, regardless of whether or not the same players remain. A new start is chosen at random when a table is created.

For "Random Dup" tables, the owner (who created the table) has the option of changing to a new start between games, after at least one game has been played, and no game is currently active. A button labelled "New Dupl. Start" appears beneath the playing board, or a command /newdup can be issued from the chat.

What do the little symbols by players' names mean?

This symbol indicates a new player, who is still in the first month of being here (starting with the playing of their first game). The idea here is that "old hands" can notice new players and offer them a warm welcome and some extra help finding their way around.

The Ranking System gives an idea of the relative strength of players, by keeping track of their games. There are 5 levels of playing strength, each indicated by a small icon         .  All the details of the ranking system are explained in the ranking guide page.

You will also see national flags for players who have chosen to display them. You can set your own using the Update Profile link on the Player Info menu.

Players may not display flags from countries other than their own. To do so defeats the purpose of having them, and other players should be able to trust that a flag represents a player's home.

If you wish not to disclose your country, leave the flag as "No country", which it is by default.

Why are some players' names in gray-italics?
If you are away from your computer, or not interested in playing, you can set your status to "inactive", which is indicated by gray italics in the list of names.

That is accomplished by clicking your OWN name in the player list, and then selecting "Active", "Inactive", or "Cancel" from the popup menu which appears.

What are the little icons on the game screen?
Displays instructions for various commands.
Displays a clickable list of player names for inviting to the table.
Displays a clickable list of player names for sending directed messages.
Displays instructions for playing pieces.
Displays a list of active tables.
Erases the last move (Demo Mode only).
What information is available about the players?
In the lobby display, or the Private Message or Invitation popup lists,
this symbol , when clicked, opens up a menu of choices.
The links within can be used to:
How do I send a message to just one player?
The basic way is to type @PlayerName ... message ... in the chat entry. There are several ways to automate that:

You can send private messages to a player in another room, but since they do not appear in 'your' lobby or players' list, you may need to type the @playername yourself in your first message.

How do I invite someone to join my table?
Click the envelope icon in the game window, which brings up a list of players. Click a name to issue the invitation.
You can also use a chat command: /invite NameOfPlayer
For details of other chat commands, type /help in a chat box.

You must be at a table, and the other player must be either in the lobby, or watching a game. The invitation is not issued if the other player is in a playing seat, playing or not.

You can also issue a general or 'anyone' invitation which appears in the Lobby Chat box and everyone can see it. To facilitate doing that, when a table is freshly created, a button appears beneath the playing board to issue the command.

Otherwise, click the invitation icon and choose "Invite 'Anyone'" link at the top of the list.

How do I remove someone from a playing seat?
Anyone can "unseat" himself, either by clicking the
"X" icon near his name, button, or requesting a different seat.

The person who created the table is the "owner", and only
he can "unseat" someone else. In this case, the "X" icons will appear next to the other players' names and can be used in the same way.

Anyone can unseat the computer player, Tollie.

If an owner leaves a table, he loses owner status, even if he returns later. .
Can I suppress the chat of a particular player?
If you don't want to see public chat, private chat, or invitations from some other player, enter the chat command /block hisname and 'hisname' will be added to a list. To remove a name from the list, use /unblock hisname. To see your current list, just enter /block.

There is also a "click-to-block" facility: on the list of player names in the lobby, click the red bars by a player's name to open the player menu, and choose "Block all chat" or "Block invitations only" from the list. These are replaced by 'Unblock' if the player is on your block list.

You have the option of blocking all chat, or just invitations to play. A pound sign(#) at the end of a player's name indicates that only invitations are blocked. This is only available through the 'click-to-block' facility; the commands described above only do the 'block all chat' variation. Unblocking clears all blocks for that name.

To switch between blocking just invitations and blocking all chat, or vice versa, first do an unblock, then choose the other option.

The list is saved across browser sessions in a browser cookie. However, it is available only within the same browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc) on the same computer. If you login somewhere else, you'll need to issue the command again. Similarly if you change browsers or erase the cookie.

Note that there is only one such list per browser-computer combination. If more than one player uses the same combination, they share a saved block list.

The chat boxes or the game board disappeared. How do I get them back?
The simplest remedy to that is to adjust the size of your window. If possible drag one side to make wider. If that's not possible try making it shorter from top to bottom. If you cannot find a good size, send us a screen shot, tell us what browser you are using, and we'll look into it.
Can I tell when a line of chat appeared?
Timestamps are included with the chat lines but are normally not visible.

There are two ways to view them:

Can I enter the site as a guest without logging in?
Yes (as of late 2014).

The main purpose of allowing Guest pseudo-logins is to provide a quick way for new players to "check out" the site without the bother of creating an account name.

Therefore, guests enter the site on a limited basis.

Is there a robot or computer player I can play against?
Yes, there is. We call it "Tollie".
Tollie was introduced in late 2013.

To include Tollie in your game, first someone has to take one of the seats. Then click the small Computer Icon for the desired seat.

Tollie can only play at UN-rated tables.

Tollie is fairly rudimentary, so don't expect anywhere near expert level play, especially at C2 - it only takes one color at a time into consideration. At 2-colors or C4 it does somewhat better, as it plays the best moves it can, quickly, and with limited resources, which are often not the best moves possible.

The main purpose of it is to offer new players a way of getting started - to get a feel for the site, and the game, before taking on other players - and to fill in extra slots in C4 games.

For more of a challenge, try Pentobi. A standalone (downloaded) program, it has 8 levels of play, and the higher levels give even our best players a good game.

Do the pieces have names?
Yes, the names are used when discussing games.
The names are based on the letters of the alphabet that the pieces (vaguely in some cases) resemble, and the number of squares they cover.

See this diagram

You can bring this image up for reference during a game or after by using the chat command /pieces, or by clicking the icon and then /pieces within the popup.
How do I change my password?
Use the Accounts page. There is also a link to it in your Welcome email and on the home page.
Can I save a game in a file?
Besides the obvious method of taking a screen shot, and possibly saving the move list as well, the command /pentobi entered in the chat, or clicked from the "?" menu while at a table can be used.

A link appears which, when clicked, downloads the .blksgf file to your computer, where it can opened with Pentobi in the usual fashion.

The file is downloaded with the name "gameMMDD.blksgf", where MMDD = today's month and day of the month. If you save more than one game in a day, take care that the later ones do not overwrite earlier ones. Windows, at least, appends a numeric suffix to prevent that.

When is the best time to find a game?
Visit this page for a chart of the most active times of the day.
Which countries do players come from?
Visit this page for a map and list of countries with one or more players.

Let us know if your own country is not listed and we can add it!

Can the site generate random numbers? What for?
Using the chat command: /random
the server will pick a random digit (0-9) and send it to everyone at the table.

This is useful in a number of situations, like flipping a coin might be:

Which browsers are supported?
The "old site" had <such-and-such feature>. Why don't you?
This is not the "old site".
Some things will be done differently, some not yet, and some not at all.
A comparison is found HERE.
Post your suggestions to the Wish List section of the Forum.
What about the game with the triangles?
Sorry, no triangles. Just squares.
How long has this site been going?
The site officially opened for play on September 22, 2012, about 3 1/2 months after development began, and just 4 months after the "old site" was closed. An alpha-level demo was done relaying the final games of a live tournament to about 25 spectators in July, and further development and beta testing lasted about two more months.

Since then, frequent updates have added new features and smoothed out kinks in existing ones. Bugs occur only very rarely.

Why is it called pentolla.com?
Pentolla is just a made up name - we had to call it something!

The Pent- part is related to pentominoes (the 5-square pieces), and -olla is just a suffix. The single-L version, pentola.com was already taken, so we added another L. (In Italian, 'pentola' means 'cooking pot', but we only learned that later.)

How do I report a problem?
If you encounter a problem with the game itself, you should post the details, including screen shot and movelist if applicable, in the Repair Shop section of the Forum.

If there is a problem involving other players, report that by email to info@pentolla.com or by contacting a member of the Pentolla Team.

Where I can learn about strategy and tactics?

We have a tutorial about some common mistakes that new players often make.

Its focus is on C2 play, but some of the pointers apply equally well to 2-colors or C4.

It will probably make more sense to you AFTER you have played at least a few games. You might spot some things you have done yourself there! (Don't sweat it - everyone makes mistakes playing this sometimes surprisingly complex game - even the experts.)

Also, a few players have written blogs with more in-depth strategy:

I speak <some other language>.
The Google Chrome browser might be of help to you?
In "Advanced settings", there is an option,
"Propose Language Translation of Pages"
If you enable that, you can have everything translated,
as well as Google can, into a language other than English.
Why is the site only in English?
We are just two guys, not some giant corporation.
Je parle le français. Pourquoi ce site est-il écrit uniquement en anglais?
Nous ne sommes que deux gars, pas une société énorme.
Ich spreche Deutsch. Warum gibt’s diese Site nur auf Englisch?
Wir sind nur zwei kerle, nicht ein riesiges Unternehmen.
Hablo Español. ¿Por qué es el sitio únicamente en Inglés?
Estamos tan sólo dos chicos, no una corporación gigante.
Ik spreek Nederlands. Waarom bestaat deze site enkel in het Engels?
We zijn gewoon twee personen, niet een gigantische bedrijf.
Puhun suomea. Miksi tämä sivusto on vain englanniksi?
Olemme vain kaksi heppua, emmekä mikään suuryhtiö.