Tak Terminology

Collected here is some of the most commonly used terminology relating to the beautiful game of tak. Please bear in mind that tak is still a new game and the terminology surrounding it is still evolving rapidly. New terms not yet included hear will be adopted, and some of the terms we currently use will inevitably change.

Stones (Pieces)

The playing tokens for tak are collectively called Stones and there are two types: Regular Stones and Capstones.

Regular Stones: These are the standard stones used in Tak, which are placed in empty squares one at a time on the board in an attempt to create roads, control more of the board, or stop your opponent from doing the same. As regular stones can be placed flat or standing, they are often referred to as Flats or Walls, depending on their orientation. Flats refer to stones in the flat position, which can be used to complete a road and count towards your overall flat count, while walls (Standing Stones in the official rules) are placed in the standing position and do not count towards a road or flat count. While walls do not count towards a road, they can block an opponent’s road and cannot be captured, except by the capstone. Stones may also be moved, as described later, under Movement.

Capstone: Often called a Cap, the capstone is a unique stone (one per player on board sizes 5-6, two per player at 7-8) that can capture and flatten enemy walls, and cannot be captured itself, even by another capstone. The capstone can also be part of a road.

Reserves: Reserves refer to any stones not yet placed on the board – i.e. held in “reserve” until played.

Captives: Captives are flat stones of an opponent’s color held within a stack you control. These stones are sometimes also called Prisoners or Liabilities


Movement: A single stone or stack of stones (up to the carry limit) may be moved orthogonally, without changing direction, leaving at least one stone behind on every square traveled to/through.

Carry Limit: The carry limit is the maximum number of stones in a stack that can be picked up and moved at a time during a spread or throw. The carry limit is equivalent to the size of the board (i.e. 5×5 board size = carry limit of 5 stones).

Capture: A capture occurs when you move any stone on top of an adjacent flat stone.

Capture War: A capture war occurs when multiple moves are spent by each player capturing and re-capturing on the same location. This typically ends in the formation of a large stack.

Spread: A spread occurs when a stack is “spread” across the board, leaving only your own color behind.

Throw: A throw is identical to a spread, except that the prime goal is the placement of the final stone, and generally at least one flat of the opponent’s color is left behind.

Smash: Also called Crush, a smash occurs when a capstone is used to flatten a wall.


Anchor: An anchor is any flat stone or capstone touching the edge of the board which can be used to connect a road.

Stack: A stack is created whenever a stone captures another stone. A stack is at least two stones tall but has no limit in height. A tall stack is occasionally referred to as a Tower.

Drawbridge: A drawbridge is a stack with a wall on top and at least one accessible flat of your own color in the stack, which can be spread to reveal the flat and complete a road or threat.

Soft cap: A soft cap is a stack with a capstone on top, where the stone directly under the capstone is the opponent’s color.

Hard cap: A hard cap is a stack with a capstone on top, where the stone directly under the capstone is your color. This allows the capstone to crush a wall while retaining control of the stack left behind (as only the capstone moves onto the crushed wall).

Citadel: A citadel is a formation of four flats in a 2×2 placement. This is occasionally called a Castle.

Ladder: A ladder is formed by two or more stones diagonally adjacent to each other. When the laterally adjacent spaces are filled a ladder becomes a Staircase.

Fork: A fork occurs when a road contains multiple paths or avenues, creating simultaneous threats.

Pin: A pin occurs when moving a stone, usually a wall or capstone, would allow the opponent to complete a road or otherwise win. The stone is “pinned” in place by the threat, though moving it would still be a legal move.

Winning Terms

Road:  A road is an uninterrupted connection of flats and/or a capstone(s) connecting two opposite sides of the board. Diagonal connections and walls do not count when determining a road.

Flat win: A flat win occurs when the board is completely filled with stones or any player runs out of reserves. The player with the most flat stones showing (i.e not captured) wins. Capstones and Standing Stones do not count towards a player’s flat count.

Threat: A threat is a formation of stones that threaten victory. This is often a road that requires only a few more stones to complete but can still be blocked. Threats can also come in the form of other impending game-ending conditions such as complete board fill or placement of either player’s last reserve stone. 

Momentum: The player with momentum is the closest to winning at a given time. If no action is taken to block a road, capture stones, or otherwise interfere, this player will win.

Tak: Calling Tak is used in some friendly games and is similar to check in chess. It alerts the other player that you are one move away from winning.

Tinuë: Tinuë is equivalent to checkmate in chess. It is a board state in which nothing the opposing player can do will stop the other player from winning by a road.

Gaelet: Gaelet is a forced flat win. Similar to Tinuë, which is a forced road win.

Dragon Clause: The Dragon Clause is invoked when a player makes a move that completes a road for both players at once. The player making the move is the winner. This is referred to as Double Road in the official rules.