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CokooA[p. 12]B[p. 23] (also written ChokōC[p. 604] or Chukoo/ChokooD) is a game from The Gambia; the name itself seems to be Mandinkan.

This game was first described in print in the early 20th century,C[p. 604] and it is still played today.D Sometimes it has been referred to as “African checkers”,E[fig. 100] but that name is also used to refer to other games such as those of the Mancala family.

Play

The game is played on a 5×5 grid of 25 holes dug into sand or loose earth. Each player has a set of sticks (kala) which are used as playing pieces by inserting one end into the ground. The sticks do not need to be differentiated from each other as each player places their pieces on a different angle. The sole source for rules of this game does not state how many sticks are to be used, but presumably both players have 12 pieces.

To begin, players take turns placing a stick one at a time, until one player decides to begin the next phase of the game. UsuallyC[p. 604] this occurs when each player has one stick remaining. Any remaining sticks can be placed as a player’s turn at any point later.

For the second phase of the game, each player takes one of their sticks and jumps it orthogonally over an adjacent opponent’s stick into an empty hole, and removes both the jumped stick and any other of the opponent’s sticks from the board. The player who first runs out of all of their sticks loses.

It is not stated by the source, but presumably the players may also move a stick one square orthogonally instead of jumping.

See also

Yoté is a very similar game from neighbouring Senegal, which lacks the “dropping” phase of Chokoo. Sīja is also very similar but capture is by enclosure rather than jumping. Kōnane also has similar gameplay.

General references: the game is also re-described in A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess (§4.4.5, p. 83), but I think he misinterprets the description of the game.

References

  1. (publisher) (). ⁨⁩ [archived]. Peace Corps The Gambia⁩: Banjul, The Gambia.

  2. (). ⁨⁩ [archived]; Gambian Studies⁩ number 21. San Francisco.

  3. (). ⁨⁩. Luzac & Co.⁩: London, UK.

  4. (). ‘⁨⁩’ [archived]. YouTube.

  5. (, originally published 1947). ⁨⁩, edited by George W. Harley; Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University⁩ volume 31. Peabody Museum⁩: Cambridge, MA, USA.

  6. (). ⁨A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess⁩. Oxford University Press⁩: Oxford, England, UK. ISBN: 0-19-827401-7.  1978 reprint available here

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