Mind Sports South Africa has long been the recognised national federation for historical figure games, board games and computer games by the Department of Sports and Recreation as well as the macro sports bodies (such as COSAS NOSC, NSC, SASC, and SASCOC).


Even though Mind Sports South Africa has not enjoyed the same sort of financial support from the Department of Sport as other less successful sporting codes, Mind Sports South Africa has attempted to provide a comprehensive service to its members.


Not only has the MSSA selected teams for Morabaraba that have been sent to the Traditional World Games in 1996, but also to every World Individual and African Continental Championships since 1997.


But the commitment to the wonderful game of Morabaraba does not end there.


What is the point of promoting a game if it does not facilitate social and economic change?


With this in mind MSSA has promoted the growth of clubs at school and university levels. Through our efforts there are already five bursaries that are awarded by tertiary institutions for players that have earned provincial and/or national colours. MSSA is already reaping the rewards of this programme as young players are enabled to enter university, qualify and live productive lives as good citizens of this, our dear land.


Bearing the above in mind, which is a small fraction of MSSA’s achievements over the past years, I urge all provincial co-ordinators to utilise MSSA as a vehicle to further promote not only the game of Morabaraba but also the players themselves.


All member clubs are actively encouraged to participate at every level of MSSA administration in order to ensure that both members and registered players take full ownership of the games that we administer.







The Playing Board


Morabaraba is a game for two players, and is played extensively throughout Africa, Asia and Europe.


1)   The rules are known as the Generally Accepted Rules (GAR), and are as follows:


Play consists of three stages:


Stage 1:


·        Each player starts with 12 tokens called "cows".


·        Starting with a clear board, each player alternatively places one cow at a time on a junction (circle). The aim is to create rows of three, either vertically, diagonally, or horizontally. Cows may only be placed on unoccupied junctions.


·        When three-in-a-row is achieved, the player may remove (shoot) one of the opponent's cows. A player cannot shoot an opponent's "three-in-a-row" cows if there are other cows on the board left to shoot.


·        Only one of the opponent's cows may be shot at a time, even if two (or more) lines of three-in-a-row are achieved with one move.


·        Once a cow is shot, it shall not be used in play again.


Stage 2


·        When all twelve cows of each player have been placed on the board, cows may be moved from one junction to another. A move consists of moving a cow from one junction to an unoccupied junction immediately linked and adjacent to that junction.


·        Players may break their own lines of three-in-a-row in order to make new lines, or simply reposition their cows.


·        Cows may be moved back and forth to the same two junctions repeatedly. A three-in-a-row may be made, broken and remade repeatedly.


·        Notwithstanding the rule that lines may be broken and remade repeatedly, if a player breaks a line to immediately create a new line of three ‘cows’, such player may not move such cow back to the original junction in his/her next move, if it creates a new line.


For example:


Should a player have a ‘cow’ on the junction marked E6, such player may move it to the junction marked as A6 to immediately create a new line. However, in such player’s next move, he/she may not move the cow back to A6, instead, such player must do another move before moving the cow back to E6 to immediately create a new line.


·        Each time a three-in-a-row is remade, an opponent's cow shall be shot.


Stage 3


·        When a player has lost all but three cows, then a player may move a cow to any vacant junction on the board with each move.


Winning the game


·        The game is won when the opponent cannot move any cows: or when the opponent has lost all but two cows.


·        When a player is down to three cows, and neither player is able to shoot an opponent's cow within ten moves, the game is a draw.


General rules


·                     Boards and counters shall be provided for the competitors.


·                    A modified Swiss Chess system will operate throughout the competition.


·                    Players shall not play against any relatives in the first degree of consanguinity. Thus a player would not be allowed to play against his/her spouse, parent, brother, sister, and/or child. Additionally where possible a player will not be drawn against any fellow club or team member in the first three rounds of the competition.


·                    The current IWF scoring system shall be used, that is 1 point for a victory, ½ a point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss.


·                    Each player shall play six games against each opponent. Each player shall start three of such games.




When organising a championship that is officially recognised by MIND SPORTS SOUTH AFRICA, it is absolutely important that the following are adhered to:


1.        A properly accredited and recognised umpire is appointed to the event,

2.        The equipment meets with the specifications as required by Mind Sports South Africa,

3.        The draw is done according to MSSA’s modified Swiss System,

4.        The Scoring System used is the system as prescribed by Mind Sports South Africa.




Mind Sports South Africa has an accreditation system in place that allows any registered player the opportunity to become an officially recognised umpire. Such an umpire is afforded the opportunity of umpiring provincial, national, and if chosen, international events.


Umpires are required to have a working knowledge of:


·        MSSA’s Constitution and Regulations, and

·        Rules of the Discipline that such player is umpiring.




490mm x 490mm board


Outer square (E) 

Middle square (A)

Inner square (R)

Circles (Junctions) - diameter

All boards must have notation starting at the top left hand corner and the ”Janus” logo.

The outer square is marked: E1, to E8

The Middle square is marked: A1, to A8

The Inner square is marked: R1, to R8






may not exceed 25mm x 25mm

Counters in PVC and/or nylon (All counters must have the “Janus” logo.





305 mm x 305 mm board


Outer square (E) 

Middle square (A)

Inner square (R)

Circles (Junctions) - diameter

All boards must have notation starting at the top left hand corner and the ”Janus” logo.
The outer square is marked: E1, to E8
The Middle square is marked: A1, to A8
The Inner square is marked: R1, to R8






may not exceed 9mm x 9mm

Counters in PVC and/or nylon  (All counters must have the “Janus” logo.






Uses for the different boards


490mm x 490mm board

305 mm x 305 mm board

International Championships

World Championships

Continental Championships

National Championships
Provincial championships

All school championships

Club championships

Friendly play




Copyright of the 'MSSA' design and the 'MSSA' notation is owned by Mind Sports South Africa.





The draw is done to MSSA’s modified Swiss System.


The first round will list all players in order of ranking, however, where no such ranking exists, the ranking will be at the discretion of the umpire.


In the first round, the top half of the players play the second half. So, if you have a field of 50 players, the number 1 ranked player will play against the 26th ranked player, the 2nd ranked player against the 27th ranked player, and so on.


In subsequent bounds, the top scoring players will always play against other top scoring players.


So, if after the first round, you have the following results:




Butinyana, Motibedi


Hlophe, David


Mokoena, Thabo


Moatshe, Joel




Motibedi will play Mokoena, Hlophe will drop down to play the highest ranked player on 5 points, being Moatshe.


It must be remembered that since there is no gender bias whatsoever in Morabaraba, that Men and Women play in the same section. To do otherwise would imply that there is an intellectual difference between the sexes - which we all know not to be true.


However, because we recognise that women have been historically disadvantaged in the game, MSSA ensures that there are awards that are presented to the top ladies if they do not win the championship.


Championship games are played over 6 rounds, where each round consists of six games where each player starts three times.


The player with the most points at the end of the championship is declared the winner.




The scoring system is as follows:


One (1) point for a win

Half (½) a point for a draw

Nil (0) points for a loss


The winner is the player who has earned the greatest number of points.



Please note that Mind Sports South Africa reserves all rights over the “Janus” logo and all intellectual copyright of Mind Sports South Africa. No part of any publication produced by Mind Sports South Africa may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior approval of the Management Board of Mind Sports South Africa.