THE RULES OF BAO
- The game to be described here is that variation of "Bao" which is
played on the coast of East Africa. It is played on a board ("bao" in
Kiswahili) with four rows of eight "mashimo" (holes - singular, "shimo") in
which are distributed sixty-four "kete" (counters - singular, "kete"). The
kete in the two rows of mashimo nearest to each player belong to him; each
player in turn moves his kete with a view to capturing his opponent's kete
and transfering thme to his own mashimo.
- Before describing the inital
lay-out for the game, it is necessary to demonstrain the basic moves. For
this purpose the learner should distribute kete indisciminately over the
- This move is made when a player is unable
to capture any kete of his opponent. Select any one of your mashimo and pick
up all the kete from it: moving clockwise or anti-clockwise around your two
rows, put one kete in the adjacent shimo and one in each of the following
mashimo until none remain in the hand. If the last kete falls into an empty
shimo, the turn is finished: if it falls into an occupied shimo, pick up all
the kete therein (including the last one played) and moving in the same
direction as before put one kete in the adjacent shimo and one in each of
the following. Continue in this way until the last kete in hand falls into
an empty shimo.
- The following points should be noted:
(a) You may not
start to takata with only one kete.
(b) You may not start to takata with
kete from a back-row shimo if you can do so with kete from a front-row
(c) Having started to takata in one direction you may not change
direction that turn.
(d) Having started to takata you cannot capture any
kete during that turn.
(e) You may not takata if you could capture any kete
of your opponent.
- We shall use the word "marker"
to describe an occupied shimo of the front-row which is in line with an
occupied shimo of the opponent's front-row.
- "Mtaji" (plural "mitaji")
is the term applied collectively to the kete (not less than two nor more
than fifteen) contained in one shimo, the last of which when distributed one
bye one in either direcction will fall into a marker.
- To capture, you
select a mtaji and commence your move as in kutakata. But instead of picking
up your own kete from your marker, you pick up your opponent's kete from his
marker. The captured kete are then distributed in the following manner.
If the opposing marker was in one of the four central lines, and you were
moving clockwise, put the first captured kete into your left-end front-row
shimo, the next kete into the adjacent shimo on the right, and so on in a
clockwise direction around your two rows. If the opposing marker was in one
of the four central lines and you were moving anti-clockwise, put the fist
captures kete into your right-end front-row shimo, the nest kete into the
adjacent shimo on the left, and so on in an anticlockwise direction.
the opposing marker was in either pair of the four outer lines, put the
first captured kete in your nearest end-shimo to that marker, the nest in
the adjacent front-row shimo and so on, clockwise or anti-clockwise as the
case may be.
- If the last captured kete falls in an empty shimo the turn
is finished; if it falls into a marker, capture and proceed as in paragraphs
8 or 9.
- If the last captured kete falls into a shimo which is neither
empty nor a marker, proceed as in paragraph 3. This must not, however, be
referred to as "kutakata" because you can again capture during the same turn
whenever the last kete in hand falls into a marker.
- Having learnt these moves the learner should now place
two kete in each shimo and play a simplified form of bao with an opponent.
The first player selects a mtaji and captures two kete; if he has selected
badly his turn is now finished, but if he has selected well he will capture
a further six kete and leave his opponent only five mitaji to choose from.
- The game continues until the losing player either has no kete in his
front-row, or has no mtaji and nothing to takata with.
- The skill
consists in seeing a number of moves ahead, and in attacking the opponent's
mitaji bye capturing either the mitaji themselves or the kete of the
appropriate markers. When forced to takata for lack of an mtaji it is
usually best to select the shimo with the largest number of kete.
- In the East African Coast fame of bao only twenty
kete are placed on the board at the start of the game, the remaining kete
(the stock) being brought into play one at each of the fist forty-four
turns. When all the kete are in play the game continues and finishes as in
"Bao la Kujifunza" above.
- To set out the board each player places six
kete in his front-row shimo immediately to the right of the centre of the
board, and two kete in each of the next two mashimo to the right (leaving
the end shimo empty). The six kete, together with any further kete added to
them during the play, are called collectively the "nyumba" of each player. In
some boards the mashimo which initially contain the nyumba are enlarged.
- The first player takes a kete from the stock and adds it to one of his
two pairs of kete on the board; he may add these three kete to the two kete
on the right or left as the case may be, and takata in the same direction
with all five kete the first of the five being placed either in the nyumba
or in the right-end shimo.
- If he has a marker, the second player must
put a kete from the stock into his marker thereby capturing one of his
opponent's kete which he places in either of his end-mashimo. If he has more
tan one marker he chooses his nyumba for obvious reasons. If he has no
marker he plays as in paragraph 17.
- Each player in turn continues to
add a kete from the stock to one of his occupied mashimo of the front row in
accordance with the following rules; which apply to the first part of the
(a) If he has a marker he must capture and proceed as in
(b) If he cannot capture he must takata.
While any kete remain in the stock, a player may not commerce to takata with
the kete of a back-row shimo, though he may continue tot takata with them.
(d) He may neither commence nor continue nor continue to takata with
(e) if he has no marker and cannot takata, he must put his
kete from the stock into his nyumba, take two kete from the nyumba place one
in each of the next two mashimo to the right or the next two mashimo to the
(f) If having captured during that turn, the last kete in hand
falls into the nyumba, the player may at that point stop his turn or he may
distribute his nyumba in accordance with paragraph 11.
(g) The first
part of the game proceeds until all the stock has been brought into play or
until the losing player has no marker, cannot takata, and has no nyumba
left. This will be either because he has distributed his nyumba or because
it has disappeared bye reason of paragraph 19 (c).
- If the game
has not been brought to a close during the fist part, the rules applicable
to the second half are those described in paragraphs 3-14.