A Bao Lesson At The Smithsonian Folk Life Festival

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I was walking around the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival hoping to find an example of a Bao board. I purchased a small one the the festival’s Marketplace. I asked a man named Ali Abdalla Skanda at the Kenyan ship builders exhibit if he could show me how to play. He smiled and said yes, but not on my board. He then brought around a giant Bao board carved from a single two inch thick plank of wood.

He proceeded to patiently demonstrate the rules of the game. Bao is a game of with a very complex rule set. While I have read the rules before, seeing them played out was a huge help in understanding. After three games I had a good feel of how to play.

Playing Bao was one of the high points of the day for me. Festivals like the Smithsonian Folk Life festival provide great opportunities to find people to play games with. If you have an experience of playing games at a festival like this please share them in the comment.

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