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The Traditional Board Game Series Leaflet #58: Yoté and Choko


by Damian Walker
Information on these games is available from the following books.
Bell, R. C. Games to Play, p. 41. London: Michael Joseph Limited,
Grunfeld, F. V. Games of the World, pp. 90-91. New York: Holt, Rine-
hart and Winston, 1975.
Murray, H. J. R. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Ox-
ford: Oxford University Press, 1952.
Copyright © Damian Walker 2011 -

Illustration 3: some capturing moves for

black. Note that it is not possible to jump Board Games at CYNINGSTAN
past a row of two or more pieces. Traditional Board Game Series
(Second Edition)
4 Leaflet #58
The Traditional Board Game Series Leaflet #58: Yoté and Choko The Traditional Board Game Series Leaflet #58: Yoté and Choko

piece if he has any left in hand, or 11. This game does not have
INTRODUCTION & HISTORY instead to move a piece already on multiple leaps as some other games
Yoté and choko are a traditional gambling, and yoté is often played the board. do.
games played across west Africa. for stakes in Senegal. 5. A piece moves one square
Ending the Game
They are from a family of draughts- Traditionally yoté and choko horizontally or vertically, to an ad-
like games which have been noted boards are a grid of holes scooped jacent square, which must be empty. 12. The game is finished when
in the west since at least 1879, but out of the sand. Yoté pieces are Some example moves are shown in a player has captured all enemy
whose antiquity might be much pebbles and pieces of stick, though Illustration 2. pieces, in which case he is declared
greater. There can be quick and shells and large seeds have also 6. There are no diagonal moves the winner.
rapid changes of fortune in these been used. Choko uses sticks of in this game. 13. If both players are reduced
games, owing to the fact that when two different lengths and pieces. to three pieces or less, the game is
Capturing Enemies
a player captures one piece, he se- For more affluent players the board declared a draw.
lects a second piece to be removed is sometimes made out of wood, 7. An enemy piece is captured
Variation: Choko
at the same time. These changes with small holes made to hold by jumping over it and landing on
make them a good subject for pebbles as pieces. the square beyond, which must be Choko is described by the game his-
vacant. This is shown in Illustration torian H. J. R. Murray. It is very
HOW TO PLAY 3. similar to yoté, differing only as fol-
Yoté will be taken first, with Beginning the Game 8. The captured piece is re- lows:
choko's differences being described moved from the board and takes no 14. Choko is played on a board
1. At the start of the game, the further part in the game. of five rows of five squares.
board is empty. 9. Having captured a piece, the 15. If one player places a piece,
Yoté is played by two people
2. The player holding the player then selects a second enemy his opponent must then do the same,
on a board of five rows of six
pebbles goes first, after which the piece and removes it from the after which, the choice between
squares, as shown in Illustration 1.
player with the sticks takes his turn, board. placement and
Players may sit anywhere and are
play then alternating between them. 10. As with movement returns
not assigned any
3. Each player movement, diag- as described in
side of the board
on his first turn onal captures are rule 4.
as their own. Each
must place a piece not allowed.
player has twelve
on any vacant
pieces which start
square of the
in his hand. In
keeping with tradi-
tion the pieces will Moving the
be referred to as Pieces
pebbles and sticks.
4. In sub-
sequent turns, a Illustration 2: moves of the pieces. There is
player may opt to no concept of “forward” or “backward” in
Illustration 1: the empty yoté board. Choko this game, so a piece may move in any
uses a board of 5x5 squares. place another available direction.

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