Adi: A Game from Nigeria

Map of Africa

This machine made wooden board was purchased by the Museum in 1975 from the Cooperative Recreation Service, Delaware, Ohio. The CRS first started to produce and sell these boards in 1955. It is not known when the Museum copy was made.

The printed information with the board indicated that the board was a copy of handmade boards for the game of Adi - a Count and Capture game played in Nigeria. The board is 58.3cm long x 14cm wide x 3cm thick. The playing surface includes two rows of 6 (6cm diameter) depressions (cups - "houses"), with a larger storage area (a "Treasury") at each end. About 40 black seeds (unknown type) were included for use as counters in the game. Printed material, provided with the game, are instructions for playing Adi.

Adi Board


The printed material indicated that the African game of Adi is described by Felix Kpodo-Amenu, now [1955] a student at Ohio Wesleyan University. When Felix was about six years aid, he learned the game of Adi (Ah'- dee) from an old woman who herself learned it when she was young from another old woman. Boys and girls play it alike through the high school age.

  1. PLAYERS: There are two players. Each uses the row of six "houses" (cups) on his side, and the "Treasury" on his right. The houses are filled with four seeds each. Either player begins. He starts only on his side. A player takes all four seeds from any house on his side and drops them, one in each house counter-clockwise as far as they go. If the last seed falls in a house containing other seeds, the player picks them all up and continues around, each time picking up the seeds in the house he ended in, until the last seed falls into an empty house. Then it is the other player's turn.

  2. THE OBJECT OF THE GAME is to buy up all of the opponent's "houses" (cups). The opponent can win back houses he has had to sell if at the end of a round he has more than enough seeds in his treasury to fill the houses he still owns. He can win back as many houses as he can fill with groups of four from his treasury after he has filled all the houses he still owns.

  3. START with 4 seeds in each cup; Treasury at right end is empty.

  4. MOVE: One player takes seeds from any cup on his side, and drops one to a cup, counter-clockwise, as far as they go. Next he takes the contents of the cup in which the last seed falls, and drops them one to a cup, and continues the process until the last seed in hand falls into an empty cup, which ends his turn. The other player then plays.

  5. WIN: When the last seed from his hand makes 4 in any cup, on either side, he captures them for his Treasury.

  6. ALSO: During the game each player captures all 4's that appear on his side (except for Rule 5).

  7. ONLY 8: When only 8 seeds remain, winner of next 4 takes all eight. This ends the first round.

  8. OUT: During the game, if one player is out of seeds, the other must play into his side.

  9. RENT: For the next round, each refills his cups from his own Treasury. The player who has a surplus fills empty houses (cups). The rented cups temporarily belong to the winner. The loser may win them back for the next game.

  10. WINNING SEEDS: As the players proceed, four seeds will accumulate in some of the houses again. Each player, even during the opponent's turn, quickly moves to his Treasury the groups of four seeds that appear on his side. If a player makes a house of four when he drops his last seed, he takes that group even if it is on his opponent's side. Watch for this opportunity and try to win as many groups of four as you can. Also try to prevent groups of four from appearing on the opponent's side. When it is your turn, it is better to start in the house that has more than four seeds rather than in houses with one, two, or three seeds. This is to promote the chances of those ones, twos and threes of becoming fours. A player may sometimes start with one or two or three on his side if he thinks by doing that he prevents his opponent from getting four on his side. When a total of 8 seeds are left in the block of houses, the player who wins 4 of them also takes the remaining four. This player thus ends the round.

  11. WINNING A GAME: The winner of the game is the player with more than enough seeds in his Treasury to fill his houses with four each. The loser will not have enough seeds to fill all his houses with four each. The winner must fill those empty houses for the loser, and he thus buys the empty houses from his opponent by filling them with his own seeds. The winner may choose any of the houses from his opponent's side as the ones he is buying. It is advantageous to buy the houses in the middle of the opponent's side first, and work toward the outer ends. The one who loses the first game starts the next one. The players proceeds as in the first round, except that now the groups of four that appear in the bought houses belong to the buyer. The only time a player can win a group of four in a house he has sold to the user, is when he has formed four when ending in that house. Now the winning player also may start in the houses he has bought on the opponent's side.

Last update February 5, 2010