Traditional Board Games

The Queah Game

Queah is a draughts-like game from Liberia. The board is a grid, usually rotated so that the playing spaces are interlocking diamonds rather than squares. Each player has ten pieces, four of which start on the board, the other six being entered each time a piece is lost. The pieces move around the board step-by-step, capturing each other by leaping. The player who captures all opposing pieces is the winner.

History of the Queah Game

The official name for this game is unknown, as it was not noted when the game was first written down. The game was first recorded in 1882, its players being members of the Queah tribe in Liberia. The traditional board is made from a lattice of twigs, and sticks make the pieces. The tops of the sticks are cut slanted on one side, and called "men", while the other side's sticks are cut straight and called "women".

Rules for the Queah Game

Rules for the Queah Game
There is some ambiguity in the English-language sources of these rules, so some assumptions have had to be made, as explained afterwards.

1. The game is played by two players, each with ten pieces; one side is called the "men" and the other is called the "women".

2. At the beginning of the game, each player has four pieces on the board, as shown in the diagram. The other pieces are kept in hand.

3. Players decide at random who is to move first.

4. Pieces are normally moved one step diagonally.

5. A piece may instead capture a diagonally-adjacent enemy by leaping over it into the space beyond, which must be vacant.

6. Only one piece can be captured in a turn; there is no multiple capture in this game.

7. A captured piece is immediately removed from the board, but if possible its owner, before moving, must replace it from those in hand to maintain a total of four pieces. The replacement can be put in any vacant space on the board.

8. A player wins the game by capturing the last enemy piece.

Rule 7 makes an assumption not actually stated in English-language sources for this game: that the placement of a replacement piece is made in addition to the normal move, not instead of it.

Another assumption is made here, relating to rule 5, that capture is optional as in yoté, not compulsory as in draughts. Some on-line sources make the opposite assumption, creating a very different game.


I have played this game for some time and then I noticed that it gave a great advantage to a second player. I tried to change the rules a bit and now I use those:

1) placing of a replacement stone is done instead of actual move/capture, not before it

2) a player is not required to replace a stone after capture and may do it later

These rules are in line with other games from Western Africa and do not contradict the rules explained in "Travel sketches from Liberia" which is the rules source. Game became more playable as it does not give an obvious advantage to any of the players.

In house I add two more rules to make the game go faster:

3) player cannot do a move which is a mirror move to the previous one

4) capture is obligatory

You may try these rules as an alternative to the ones mentioned on the website.

Dmytro - 19:41, 06/10/2016

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