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Evidence for Béchi

1 pieces of evidence found.

Id DLP.Evidence.1188
Type Ethnography
Game Béchi
Location 15° 6'26.82"N, 37°35'26.68"E
Date 1971-01-01 - 1971-12-31
Rules 2x4/2x3 board. Six counters per hole. Sowing occurs in a clockwise direction from the left half of a player's row, and anti-clockwise when played from the player's right half of the row, player's choice when there is a central hole. The first seed of sowing is placed in the hole from which the sowing began. When the final counter of a sowing falls into an occupied hole, and it now contains an even number of counters, these are captured, provided the contents of that hole have already been moved. Should the following hole also contain an even number of counters, these are also captured, as well as the next one, until there is a hole with an odd number of counters. If a player cannot move, they must pass until the opponent plays in such a way that they may play. If neither player is able to move, they both capture the counters in their rows. Players then count their counters by placing them six per hols. The player who has more counters than necessary to fill their holes places them aside for use in successive rounds. The player who is unable to fill a hole with six counters leaves it empty, also placing the extra counters aside for later use. This hole is not to be sown into. The player chooses which hole to leave empty. The player may place captured counters in this hole, and if the opponent sows into it, the player may immediately capture the sown counter. Otherwise, play proceeds as normal. Players alternate being the starting player, and subsequent rounds continue until one player cannot fill a hole with six counters.
Content "This game, known as béchi...The Kunama game is based on two rows each of four or sometimes three holes with six balls per hole, and is generally played by boys and youths. One of several unusual features of the game is that play is clockwise when a move is begun from one set of holes and anti-clockwise when begun from another. Thus when played with four holes per row each of the two players would move in a clockwise direction when starting a move from one of his two left-hand holes, and in an anti-clockwise direction when starting from one of his two right-hand holes, the result being that at the beginning of any move each player would be advancing in the direction opposite to that followed by his opponent when starting from one or other of the opposite holes. The same principles apply when the game is played on a three-hole board, except that a player starting from his central hole would each time be free to choose in which direction he wished to proceed. Other unusual features of the game consist in the fact that players do not take up the entire contents of any of their holes, but always leave one ball behind, and that on dropping the last counter in his hand into an occupied hole the players move comes to an end without him picking up its contents for further distribution as in the case of most Ethiopian board games...They could thus under no circumstances pick up a single ball. Captures were effected in an unusual manner in so far as a player could capture balls on either row not only on his opponent's as is more generally the case. A player would effect a capture if he dropped the last ball in his hand into a hole, either on his own side or his opponent's, provided (a) the contents of that hole had already been moved and (b) the hole in consequence of his move contained an even number of balls...Should the immediately following hole or holes also contain even groups of balls, the player would capture them too, irrespective of the actual number of balls, provided only that it has an even number. On effecting any capture, either from one or more holes, the player's move ended. A player unable to move for lack of any group of two or more holes on his side would wait until his opponent's play once again created such a situation in which case he would resume play. When, however, neither player could move the round would come to an end, each player appropriating the counters, if any, remaining on his side. The players would then count out their counters six by six into the holes on their respective sides. A player having captured more balls than were necessary to fill his holes would place such counters aside for possible use in a later round, while a player unable to fill all his holes completely would leave the residue empty, and, if left with one or more extra balls would likewise put them aside for later use. The player thus unable to fill all his holes completely would be free to choose which too leave empty, and could indeed often fill holes on both halves of his row, thus enabling him to move in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction...Players were not allowed to drop counters into a hole which had thus been left empty at the beginning of a round. Any such hole was known by onomatopoeia as shuda ita or hole containing which one said shu, and a player with such a hole or holes on his row might place his takings in one or more of them to confuse his opponent, for if the latter dropped a ball there he forfeited it to the owner of the hole unless he removed it before the latter had the chance to say shu...The players could, however, make a prior agreement not to adopt any such tricks. The players would start each round of the game alternately, and play would continue until one of the players was left with insufficient balls with which to fill a hole; I.e. until he had less than six counters. His opponent, now victorious, would then probably say "toma natuka," literally "I put fire to all your houses." Townshend 1971: 169-170.
Confidence 100
Ages Child, Adolescent
Genders Male
Source Pankhurst, R. 1971. Gabata and Related Board Games of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia Observer 14(3):154-206.

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