Bao: Expert Level 3/3

To keep on sowing
In some situations the last seed won't fall in an occupied hole having seeds in the opposite hole. Take a look at photo 16:
photo 16
You capture the seven seeds from your opponent. If you start sowing from the left, you will end with your last seed in the seventh hole. It is not empty, so your move doesn't end, but there's nothing to capture either. In that case take all of the seeds from that hole (there are now six) and start sowing again, not changing direction and starting with the very next hole.

In this case you will end up in the back row, the fourth hole from the left. photo 17 shows this result:
photo 17
Remember, you have to continue sowing if your last seed falls in an occupied hole with a hole opposite with no seeds. The nyumba is an exception to these rules. If the last seed falls in the nyumba and the opposing hole is empty, the player may end his turn if he wishes.

The opponent then starts his move. See photo 18:
photo 18
You take the 4 seeds opposing your nyumba and start sowing from the right. Now your last seed falls in the nyumba. According to the rules, you may either start sowing the seeds or you may stop. Sometimes it is advantageous to wait for better times.
In some situations, you cannot start a move by capturing opposing seeds. Moves where you cannot start with a capture we call takasa. 
A takasa situation with only your nyumba remaining

This is the second special rule concerning the nyumba. Take a look at photo 19. In this situation you cannot make a capture:
photo 19
If the nyumba is the only hole left and you cannot capture, place a seed in your nyumba then take out two seeds and sow them to the left or to the right. Always remember that these special rules do not apply if there are less than six seeds in your nyumba.

Summary of the most important and frequently used rules:
  •  you have to capture if you can · entering captured seeds must be done in the front row from the first hole from the left or right
  • you have no choice whether to start from the left or right when you captured a kichwa or kimbi hole and when you have already sown in a direction
  • if the last seed ends in an occupied hole, capture the opposing seeds
  • if there is nothing in the opposing hole, take the seeds from you hole and sow them in the same direction
  • your move ends when your last seed falls in an empty hole

Mtaji Stage
The mtaji stage begins when the namua stage ends. That means that you start the mtaji stage when all seeds in the stocks have been brought into play. The mtaji stage is not very different from the namua stage. In the mtaji stage you must capture if you can. Because no more seeds can be brought into play, you must take a hole that, after sowing the contents of it, ends with the last seed falling in a hole having a hole with seeds opposing it. The opposing hole is called mtaji. So we can conclude:

  • sow seeds from a hole that may be a hole from the front or back row
  • the last seed from that hole must end in a hole in the front row having one or more seeds
  • there must be one or more seeds in the opposing hole (mtaji)
  • the seeds in the mtaji are captured
  • playing singletons (holes with only one seed in it) is not allowed
  • if there is no mtaji, you play takasa
photo 20
In photo 20 you have two possible mitaji (plural of mtaji). You can play your 3 seeds to the right and capture 5, or you can play your nine seeds to the right, sowing around the corner, and capture 6.

In the mtaji stage it is not uncommon to have situations in which no captures are possible. This can be because there are no occupied holes with occupied holes on the opposite side (mtaji). This situation is called takasa. In that case, a player must take a hole from the front row and sow it to the left or right. During the move captures are not allowed, just as in the namua stage. If there are no occupied holes in the front row, you may sow a hole from the back row.

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