The Ethiopian Game of Gobeta:
Sulus Aidi or Awagaga

Harold Courlander

Negro History Bulletin, Washington, D.C., No. 7, Oct. 1943, pages 21-23.

Diagram 1

[Page 22] Sulus Aidi or Awagagà: The sequence of play in this game is similar to that in Abalalà. That is to say a player begins anywhere on his own side and drops pieces in the rotation shown in Diagram 1. The objective, however, is to take possession of holes on your opponent's side of the boards. If player B manages his play so that a last bean falls into a hole on player A's side which contains three pieces, making a total of four, he has taken possession of this hole. Player A tries to capture holes on B's side. A hole thus taken is like a staked claim. Each player fights to protect his claims and to extend them.

Diagram 3

For example, if the distribution of pieces on the boards were as shown in Diagram 3, and if it were opponent B's play, he could start from hole 9, which is on his own side, and distribute one bean in hole10, one bean in hole 11, and one in 12. His last bean falling in hole 12 makes a total there of four beans. He therefore makes claim to this hole and to everything that subsequently falls into it. Similarly, player B could start at hole 6, on his own side of the boards, distributing until his last piece falls into hole 15, on his opponent's side. His last bean makes a total of four in this hole, and he therefore claims the hole and any pieces that may be in it at the end of the game. If the distribution shown in Diagram 3 existed and it were player A's turn, he could start from hole 18, on his own side, and move to hole 1, on his opponent's side. Having made a total of four here, he claims this hole.

The initial play in Sulus Aidi is the same as in Abalalà. Both players start together, playing simultaneously until somewhere along the line their last beans fall into empty pockets. From this point on the players alternate. When a player takes a pocket by dropping his last bean into it and making it total of four, his turn ends and his opponent's begins. Or if a player’s last bean falls into an empty pocket his turn ends. The claimed holes are in effect reservoirs, in which each player's stores up pieces. Plays may not he started at these reservoirs, nor may pieces be removed from them until the end of the game, when winnings are counted. When one of the players finds that he has no more pieces to move, the game is over.

Last update January 8, 2010