Teaching Bao in Barcelona during a Games Festival

Bao rules are considered tricky and hard to learn. Some even claim that it is not possible to learn Bao just by reading the rules. So these questions and answers are supposed to be a test to see if a player has mastered the rules of Bao.

The answer is not the best move, but all possible (legal) moves.

Note:

The direction of sowing (clockwise or counterclockwise) in the following problems is always as viewed by South (even when North plays).

Questions[edit | edit source]

Question 1[edit | edit source]

Baoq1.jpg

North to play. Namu stage.

Question 2[edit | edit source]

Baoq2.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Question 3[edit | edit source]

Baoq3.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Question 4[edit | edit source]

Baoq4.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Question 5[edit | edit source]

Baoq5.jpg

South to play. South's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Question 6[edit | edit source]

Baoq6.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Question 7a[edit | edit source]

Baoq7a.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Question 7b[edit | edit source]

Baoq7b.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba does not exist. Namu stage.

Question 8[edit | edit source]

Baoq8.jpg

South to play. Mtaji stage.

Question 9[edit | edit source]

Baoq9.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Mtaji stage, but no capture has been done during this stage.

Question 10[edit | edit source]

Baoq10.jpg

South to play. Mtaji stage.

Question 11[edit | edit source]

Baoq11.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Mtaji stage but no capture has yet been made in this stage.

Question 12a[edit | edit source]

Baoq12a.jpg

North to play. Mtaji stage.

Question 12b[edit | edit source]

Baoq12b.jpg

North to play. Mtaji stage. North's nyumba still exists, and no capture has been made till now in the mtaji stage.

Question 13[edit | edit source]

Baoq13-2.jpg

North to play after South has played a takasa move. Mtaji stage.

Question 14[edit | edit source]

Baoq14.jpg

North to play after South has played a takasa move. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Mtaji stage but no capture has yet been made in this stage.

Question 15[edit | edit source]

Baoq15.jpg

North to play after South played a takasa move. Mtaji stage.

Answers[edit | edit source]

Answer to Question 1[edit | edit source]

Baoa1.jpg

North to play. Namu stage.

Just one possible move. Add one seed to the 2 in the front row and sow towards the center.

You cannot start with a hole in the back row. You cannot leave your front row empty.

Answer to Question 2[edit | edit source]

Baoa2.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Two moves are possible, both starting with the nyumba. Take one seed from your reserve and one from the nyumba, then sow them to the right or to the left of the nyumba.

When the only non-empty pit in the front row is the nyumba and the player can't capture, he starts sowing from it as if it had a singleton.

Answer to Question 3[edit | edit source]

Baoa3.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Two possible moves, both starting from the nyumba. Take one seed from your reserve, all those in the nyumba, and sow them into the holes towards its right or left .

When the square hole contains less than 6 seeds, it is not a functional nyumba. If no captures can be made in such a position, it is not permitted to begin a takasa move from hole containing a singleton.

Answer to Question 4[edit | edit source]

Baoa4.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Two moves are possible. After capturing the seed opposite to the singleton in the front row, you can start sowing in any kichwa.

Capturing is compulsory. If nothing was sown in that move before and the capture wasn't effected by a kimbi, the player can choose the kichwa from which he starts sowing.

Answer to Question 5[edit | edit source]

Baoa5.jpg

South to play. South's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Two moves are possible. First South captures the singleton opposite to his marked hole. He starts sowing the seeds starting in his right kichwa. The last seed falls in his nyumba. There he must choose if he continues the move (safari) or stops it (lala).

Capturing is compulsory. If a capture was made in a kimbi, the sowing must start in the corresponding kichwa. If a lap ends in the nyumba after a capture was made, the player can choose to continue (safari) or end (lala) the move.

Answer to Question 6[edit | edit source]

Baoa6.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Four moves are possible. Each move starts by adding a seed from the reserve to one of the marked holes in the front row. Afterwards its contents are sown clockwise or anticlockwise. If the contents of the round hole seeds are distributed, after that move the square hole functions as a nyumba again.

When a player can't capture in the namua stage, he cannot begin the move with a singleton, if there is no functional nyumba. If the nyumba has at least 6 seeds again without having been takasaed or safaried, it becomes a functional nyumba again.

Answer to Question 7a[edit | edit source]

Baoa7a.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Namu stage.

Two moves are possible. A stone is added to the singleton in the front row, and then these seeds are sown either clockwise or anticlockwise. If the sowing is anticlockwise, the move ends in the nyumba.

If there is a functional nyumba in the namua stage, a takasa can begin from a singleton. If a takasa lap ends in the nyumba, the move stops there.

Answer to Question 7b[edit | edit source]

Baoa7b.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba does not exist. Namu stage.

Two moves are possible. It begins with the hole that contains 9 seeds. The contents are either sown clockwise or counterclockwise.

If there is no nyumba in the namu stage, a takasa move cannot begin from a singleton.

Answer to Question 8[edit | edit source]

Baoa8.jpg

South to play. Mtaji stage.

Two moves are possible. They start from the hole containing four seeds. Its contents are either sown clockwise or counterclockwise.

A takasa move cannot begin with a singleton, if there are occupied holes in the front row, which have more than one seed.

Answer to Question 9[edit | edit source]

Baoa9.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Mtaji stage, but no capture has been done during this stage.

Eight moves are possible. They can begin from any of the marked holes. The sowing is either clockwise or anticlockwise.

A nyumba can still exist in the mtaji stage as long as nothing has been captured. Such a nyumba cannot be takasiaed.

Answer to Question 10[edit | edit source]

Baoa10.jpg

South to play. Mtaji stage.

One move is possible. The five seeds in the marked hole must be distributed clockwise.

If nothing can be captured, a player must takasa. If there is an occupied hole in the front row, which has more than one seed, he must takasa from there towards the center. The front row may not be empty, not even temporarily.

Answer to Question 11[edit | edit source]

Baoa11.jpg

North to play. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Mtaji stage but no capture has yet been made in this stage.

Four moves are possible. The three seeds of the marked hole can be distributed counterclockwise, ending in the nyumba and capturing the three seeds opposite. The contents of the nyumba can be sown clockwise, ending in the hole next to it and capturing two seeds from the opponent's nyumba. The two seeds of the marked hole can be sown clockwise, capturing one seed. The six seeds of the marked hole can be distributed clockwise, capturing two seeds from the opponent's nyumba.

Capturing is compulsory. A nyumba can still exist in the mtaji stage as long as nothing has been captured. Such a nyumba cannot be takasiaed.

Answer to Question 12a[edit | edit source]

Baoa12a.jpg

North to play. Mtaji stage.

Three moves are possible. The three seeds of the marked hole can be sown counterclockwise, ending in the nyumba and capturing the three seeds opposite. The two seeds of the marked hole can be sown clockwise, capturing one seed. The six seeds of the marked hole can be distributed clockwise, capturing two seeds from the opponent's nyumba. The nyumba can not be played.

Capturing is compulsory. A capturing move cannot begin from a hole containing 17 or more seeds.

Answer to Question 12b[edit | edit source]

Baoa12b.jpg

North to play. Mtaji stage. North's nyumba still exists, and no capture has been made till now in the mtaji stage.

Four moves are possible. The three seeds of the marked hole can be distributed counterclockwise, ending in the nyumba and capturing three seeds. The two seeds in the marked hole can be sown clockwise, capturing one seed. The six seeds in the marked hole can be sown clockwise, capturing two seeds from the opponent's nyumba. The contents of the nyumba can be sown clockwise, capturing one seed.

Capturing is compulsory. A capturing move can begin from the nyumba in the mtaji stage.

Answer to Question 13[edit | edit source]

Baoa13-2.jpg

North to play after South has played a takasa move. Mtaji stage.

Four moves are possible. The contents of either marked hole (light grey) with 10 seeds can be played clockwise or counterclockwise. If the contents of the kichwa are sown counterclockwise, the move will end in the marked hole (dark grey) containing two seeds.

A takasiaed hole cannot be played. If a lap ends in a takasiaed hole, the move ends.

Answer to Question 14[edit | edit source]

Baoa14.jpg

North to play after South has played a takasa move. North's nyumba has not been captured or safaried. Mtaji stage but no capture has yet been made in this stage.

Four moves are possible. The contents of the nyumba or the two seeds of the other marked hole can be sown, either clockwise or counterclockwise.

The house cannot be takasiaed.

Answer to Question 15[edit | edit source]

Baoa15.jpg

North to play after South played a takasa move. Mtaji stage.

Two moves are possible. The 18 seeds can be sown clockwise or counterclockwise. In any case, nothing is captured.

If a hole is the only occupied hole or the only hole with more than one seed in the front row, it cannot be takasiaed. A capturing move may not start from a hole, which has 17 or more seeds.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Kronenburg, T.
Bao Zanzibar Rules, Nyumba Functions (E-mail). February 16, 2006.
National Museum of Tanzania (Ed.)
The Rules of Bao. Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) 1971.
Voogt, A. J. de.
Limits of the Mind: Towards a Characterisation of Bao Mastership. CNWS Publications Leiden (Netherlands) 1995.

Copyright[edit | edit source]

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By: Víktor Bautista i Roca.
Under the CC by-sa 2.5.

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