Needle and Thread Crafts
The Game of Achi
What you will make:
In this project, make a felt or paper game board for Achi, a game from
Ghana which goes beyond tic-tac-toe. Children play similar games all around the world. Some of the oldest
games, dating back over 3,500 years, are in a group called games of
alignment. Tic-tac-toe is one of the most popular of these games in the
United States, but in Ghana the children play Achi.
At the end of this project page, learn more about the history and
rules of Achi, and find links to other
sites with more fun and information related to Achi and
Here's what you need:
- Two 9" by 12" pieces of felt in contrasting colors or
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Black permanent fabric marker
- Embroidery floss in colors of felt
- Sewing needle
- Straight pins
- Ruler and pencil or chalk
- Optional supplies: Fabric
glue instead of needle and thread, or a regular black marker and
glue stick for a paper board.
This project is rated EASY to do.
How to Make an Achi Game Board
Read all of the steps before starting.
- Step 1: Choose a Pattern and Print It
Download and print the pattern for the felt game board. (The
felt templates can also be
used with paper or cardstock.)
Bonus pattern: Use the Picaria templates to make
a game board for another 3-in-a-row game from the Pueblo Indians of
New Mexico. For how to play Picaria and additional patterns, see
Picaria Game Board Patterns.
Easy Game Board: The
Printable Game Board pattern can be used
to make a simple print, cut and play game board. Just follow the
instructions in the English Board Solitaire
Felt or Paper Pattern
Printable Game Board
Picaria Felt or Paper
Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The
Adobe Reader is available for free.
All of Aunt Annie's project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter size paper (8.5"x11" or A4).
When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.
- Step 2: Cut
Cut a 6" square from the lighter felt (or paper). Cut the
darker piece of felt (or paper) into a 9" square and four
2.25" squares. Cut each of the four 2.25" squares in half on
the diagonal. Picaria: Cut the squares a second
time on the diagonal.
As an aid in cutting, you can pin the pattern templates to the felt,
or use a ruler and pencil or chalk to measure and mark the squares.
- Step 3: Mark Lines
Using the printed pattern as a guide, draw four lines on the
6" square of lighter felt with the black permanent fabric
marker. Draw two diagonal lines, corner to corner, and horizontal
and vertical lines that go through the point where the diagonal
lines cross. Picaria: Draw four additional lnes
joing the mid-points on each side.
The game lines are optional, but without them, placing the
triangles accurately will be more difficult.
- Step 4: Sew Triangles
Pin the felt triangles to the 6" felt square. Center each piece in a
triangle created by the drawn lines.
Using 3 strands of embroidery floss, sew each felt triangle in
place with a running stitch about ¼" from the edge.
You may find that the sewing is easier if you first baste the felt triangles to the
6" square. (Baste with long, loose running stitches to temporarily hold the fabric together.)
For a paper board, glue the triangle pieces centered in the
triangular spaces created by the drawn lines.
- Step 5: Stitch Squares Together
Pin the 6" felt square in the center of the 9" felt
square. Stitch the squares together with 3 strands of embroidery
floss, using a running stitch about ¼" from the edge of
the 6" square.
For a paper board, glue the 6" square in the center of the
That's it! Your game board is done and now it's time to play!
- Step 6: Play Achi
Achi is a two-player game. Each player needs four game pieces in a
color that contrasts with the other player's game pieces. Two different
dried beans, like red kidney and white Great Northern, work well;
alternatively, use pennies and dimes. The object of the game is to be the
first player to align three pieces in a row.
- Draw lots to see who goes first.
- Players take turns putting playing pieces on any line
- The game moves into its second stage after all pieces have been
played and no one has three in a row. Players now take turns moving
one of their pieces along a line to an empty spot. No jumping allowed.
- The first player to get three in a row wins. The row can be
horizontal, vertical, or diagonal.
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When were Achi and Tic-Tac-Toe invented?
Children play similar games all around the world. Some of the
oldest games, dating back over 3,500 years, belong to a type of game called games of
alignment. Tic-tac-toe is one of the most popular of these games in
the United States, but in Ghana the children play Achi. They
usually mark the game board on the ground and use little sticks as
playing pieces. One player will have four little sticks with the bark
on, and the other player will have four sticks with the bark off.
A game board like those used for Achi was found carved into a roofing slab of the
temple at Al-Qurna in Egypt. It dates from 3,500 years ago. In addition, Confucius
describes the game of yih that was played in China as far
back as 500 B.C.; yih is now called tic-tac-toe. There are
many other historical references to alignment games from around the
world. Two boards dating from 2,000 years ago were found in Sri Lanka. Other
references come from Rome, Crete, Ireland, and Norway.