Dedicated to Shax - The preferred game of Somali nomads

Created and maintained by Jama Musse Jama - visitor [] since 18 Sept. 1997

Kanaan degay,
Kanaan door ka bidey,
kani danbaan moodey,

Ku kalaanse kula doonayaa,
Kanise ii duuban.

Program: Shax v. 1.0
Date released: September 1997
Current Version: ver. 1.0 (first release)
Author: Jama Musse Jama
Contacts: (

Shaxdaan degayba maad garan
wayna kaa shisheysaa

This is readme.htm file included in the distribution zipped file (
Comments are well appreciated
Shax was played in Africa anciently, surely before when the foreigners (both Arabs and Europeans) invaded Africa through to the coasts of Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Now it is here again for you, recreated through the magic world of informatics. For Somali speakers, Shax is not only a board game, but it embodies a great part of Somali literature, since in many poems and sayings, the game or its strategies are cited. Playing a Shax was a funny way of communication, while the sages of a village were dealing with the social issues in the nomadic area.


1. Shax - A Somali Game
2. Shax - The Program
3. Shax - The Package
4. Shax - Minimal Requisitions
5. Shax - Installation
6. Bibliography
7. Further information and contact address

1. Shax - A Somali Game

Shax is a well know strategy game used to play in several regions of Africa, in particularly in the East Africa (the Somali inhabited area), in the Southern Africa (in Lesotho, where the game is called Mororova), and in some other places. For instructions on how to play shax, its rules and most common strategies or preferred positions, refer to Rick Davies's Shax's Page; for a historical background and additional information about the game, see below in section 6 (bibliography).

Shax is also very similar to other board games used to play in Europe, for instance, Filetto which is game played in Italy, Muhle played in Germany and Nine Mens Morris used to play in United Kingdom. The main differences between Shax and these games are related to the rules of each game (selection on the board, movement of the pebbles, and the criteria of winning a game). In some cases, the difference is related also to the number of pebbles to use for a single game.

For the difference between Shax and Muhle, refer to Rick Davies's Shax's Page; while for the difference between Shax and Filetto can be found in [1].

2. Shax - The Program (version 1.0)
This program is a freeware version for Dos 3.0 +. The binary files of the program can be freely used without condition on time and can be distributed. If you want to get the latest version, and/or if you want to be informed any further developments of this program, you can ask the author to be registered. See below the author's address.

This version (ver. 1.0) is the first release, so it surely contains errors, and therefore I would appreciate any comments and suggestions for improvement of the next versions. Many of the functions in the menu are not still activated -- this is not a restriction for copyright reasons, but simply they are not yet implemented.

The only first of the three "thinking levels" (novice, intermediate, expert) is implemented so far, therefore, if you are expert in plying the game, you have to be patient until the next version will be released. In fact, the next version will contain also the other two levels. Two human players can play with this program, as well as computer vs human or computer vs computer. Anyway the code is under development, so again, the author would be very pleased for any suggestions.

I am rewriting a version of this program for Windows, so at least the graphical interface will be better (I hope !!!!) than of this Dos version. The next version (ver 1.1) is expected to be released within October 1997, and probably in the same time, the Windows version will be ready.

Download now the Dos version of Shax ver. 1.0 (

3. Shax - The package
You will get, usually, these files in `zip' form with the name, "" where `m' and `n' make together the version number of the current files (i.e ver. m.n). The author encourages anyone who want to redistribute this program, to use this mechanism.

The zip file contains:

  shax.exe       (***)
  shax.ovr       (***)
  shax.hlp        (*)
  today.shx       (*)
  updates.txt                [not in the firstly released version]

In order to run the program, you must have the two files singed with (***) in a same directory (otherwise the Shax program can not be run). The files signed with (*), instead, are additional files for the quality of the program (help in line and additional fantasy messages !!!), but the shax program can run without them. Anyway, all the files must be copied in a same directory.

4. Shax - Minimal Requisitions
A Personal Computer with a Processor 286 or better, DOS 3.0 or later, a 500 Kb of hard disk space (it can be ran also from floppy driver, but it becomes very slow .... hhmmmmm very much slow .....), mouse driver installed (this version requires a mouse, but in other versions of Shax, one could use the keyboard to select his moves), a color monitor is preferred .... we, all, would like to live in a world where more different colors make it more beautiful ..

5. Shax - Installation
If you get this program in its `zip' form, you will need one of the programs `unzip or pkunzip' to decompress and extract files from the archive. Copy all the files extracted from the archive in a same directory (I had always hoped to see on many PC's a directory named c:\games\shax), and via .... run shax. ...... do'nt forget to drop me a word about the game and the program ...

6. Bibliography
[1] Jama Musse Jama (1997), `Shax and other Games of East Africa", Unpublished Manuscript.

[2] Marin, G. (1912), `Somali Games', J. Royal Anthropological Institute,vol. 61, 1931, pp. 499-512.

[3] Drake-Brockman (1912), Ralph E., `British Somaliland', London: Hurst and Blackett, 1912, pp. 129-133.

[4] Rick Davies' Shax Home Page An Introduction to Shax - A Somali Game.

[5] Ethnomathematics: an essential key for mathematical education

7. Further information and contact address
An important place where to get more information about Shax Game, is the Shax Dedicated Home Page, created and maintained by the author of this program. The URL is Anyway, for additional information or suggestions, you can reach me by the following address. I appreciate any suggestions.

Jama Musse Jama
Via di Pratale 103 F
56100 Pisa
tel. ++ 39 50 59 80 77 
fax. ++ 39 50 84 42 24
     to see directly shax's home page, point your browser onto

---------------------- That is faults -------------------------------------