Ayo is a traditional game played on a carved wooden board usually played between two persons, and the objects of play being Ayo seeds. The game is very common in Nigeria and some countries in West and North Africa .

NAME: the game is believed to be named after the plant that bears the Ayo seeds.


The board is about 0.8m to 1.2m long with twelve holes as field of play having six holes on each side of the board. The game is played in such a way that each of the two players moves the seeds in turn and drops one each in the holes starting from the next hole from which the seed(s) are removed ,moving in an anticlockwise direction, until all the seed(s) removed have being exhausted.





Only one seed can be moved to the next hole .You can only move seed(s) from your own side. There may be one hole on each side of the board for counters. The game will be played with four (4) seeds in each hole of play; a total of forty-eight (48) seeds with twenty-four (24) on each side of the playing board.Ayo is believed to be one of the oldest Traditional Sports that bears different names in different countries in Africa . In Nigeria , it became a demonstration sport at Benue 96, a scoring event at Imo 98 producing two gold medals. At Bauchi 2000 it produced 3 gold medals. At Edo 2002, it produces 5 gold medals, Also at Abuja 2004 and Gateway 2006; it produced 5 gold medals respectively. It was demonstrated at the 8 th All Africa Games through the approval of SCSA and COJA.



• Arrangement of seed

• Playing in turns

• Seeds dropping

• Seeds reservoir

• Capturing of seeds

• Cutting off system


For the purpose of competition, a match shall be seven (7) games so that the players will not end up in a draw .Quarter final, Semi finals, third place and Final matches, the rubber (set) shall be nine (9) games. Opponent must play within 30 seconds reaction time. Once the referee calls”30 seconds” he will press his stop watch, and before thirty seconds expires, the player must play or else he will receive a card (1 st yellow card, followed by a red card as second offender) if he fails to play within the 30 seconds warning call, he will receive a red card, (that is disqualification).


The free style system of play and winning of seeds shall apply accordingly.Where the play of a player ends in a hole of the opponent’s side of the board and there are two (2) or three (3) seeds in that hole, the player have won and is entitled to remove the seeds. If the seeds in the hole or holes immediately proceeding the hole where the play ends are two(2) or three(3) seeds, the player will be entitled to win and remove the seeds in those holes as well (Linkage law).

A player can win the seeds in all the six (6) holes on his opponent’s side. Thus each player has to defend all the six (6) holes on his side or he may be “cut off” by his opponent.


The winner of a game shall be entitled to one (1) point score against the loser .Where, however the loser fails to win up to six (6) seeds, in the game, the winner shall be entitled to two (2) points score against the opponent in that set.


The objective of the game is for each player to strive to win seeds from his opponent until he has won enough to cover his own side of the board (that is 24 seeds).


All players must observe the norm of decorum during play and shall avoid using abusive/vulgar, threatening or boastful language during play. Each player is entitled to organize his game in such a way as to best trap and win seeds from his opponent, or to stop the opponent from winning seeds from him.

A player may count the seed he has in any hole on his side of the board and the ones he has in the store hole.

He is also free to count the seeds in any hole on his opponent’s side of the board. However he may not count any pile of seeds in his opponent’s hole by touch.

A player shall not reverse his play or retract once he has placed the first seed in a hole.

No player shall cheat by manipulating seeds by deliberately dropping more than one seed in a hole or other form of late play. A player who cheats may be given yellow card, followed by red card and be disqualified.

Any player who misbehaves shall be penalized through caution cards.


All observers are expected to maintain silence and not to interfere with or influence the game by aiding, advising or teaching any player on what move to take.

The umpire has the power to expel any noise maker or any person who interferes with the game.

Where a spectator has interfered with the game by aiding or attempting to aid any of the player, the opponent who is thereby aggrieved shall be entitled to call for a cancellation of the game and if the umpire is satisfied that there has being an interference with the game he may cancel the game for a fresh game to be played.


• If only six players are available in a category, the competition shall be based on league system throughout.

• When playing league, a match shall be best of 7 games throughout.

• If more than six players are available, there shall be grouping into two, three or four groups of not less than 3 players per group.

• Only the best two players or teams shall advance to the quarter or semi-finals from each group.

• The best of one group, shall meet the runners-up of the other group vice versa.

• After the league type at the group level, the competition shall advance to knockout system to the end of the competition.

• At any level, the seed won shall be counted and recorded.

• If a player or a team “cut-off” an opponent either by cut off system or by first getting twenty-four seeds, all the remaining seeds on the field of play in the 12 holes shall be recorded for the winner.

• If there is a tie at any level, it is the number of seeds for and against that shall be used to determine the player with the upper hand.

• Every player must sign the score sheet with the referee after each match with date.

• The score sheets shall be numbered from the beginning of the competition to the end on the top left corner of each score sheet i.e. the score sheet should have been pre-numbered for the matches.

• After each match, the score sheets should properly be compiled and handed over to the co-ordinator for proper co-ordination.

• All Ayo players are expected to wear states colour, jersey, track suit, any smart native dress for competition.

• In team game, the team must wear the same jersey or state colour for colourful video appearance.

• Any player who registers for a competition, and leaves the competition venue during the competition does so at the risk of missing his chance in case of any necessary adjustments to make the competition move forward.

• Fixtures for the competition must be typed out in black and white, to indicate date, time and venues by the organizers of a competition.

• Any adjustment as regards time, date and venue when the competition has started should give at least 12 hours notice of amendment by the organizers.

• National sports festival competitions are specially controlled by the Federal Ministry of Sports and Social Development, therefore each athlete must subject himself/herself to the rules and regulations and proceedings of the festival accordingly. The same goes for All Africa Games.

• Under medal scoring ,Ayo will produce the following medals:

Male: 1 gold, 1silver, 2 bronze.

Female: 1 gold, 1silver, 2 bronze.

Mixed doubles: 1 gold, 1silver, 2 bronze.

Male doubles: 1 gold, 1silver, 2 bronze.

Female doubles: 1 gold, 1silver, 2 bronze.

Total medals: 5 gold, 5silver, 10 bronze.