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MORE ABOUT MANCALA
by
Sian and Samuel

 
HISTORY
The game of Mancala is among those ancient games that last and last because the rules to play are simple, but the subtleties of winning take a long time to master. Many historians believe that Mancala is the oldest game in the world. The word Mancala means "to transfer" in Arabic. That is exactly what you do; you transfer, or move, playing pieces from one pit to another. There are hundreds of different variations to the basic game Mancala.
Mancala represents the diversity of Africa. Some version of Mancala is played in nearly every African country and it is enjoyed by royalty and commoners, adults and children, in cities and villages of every size. Mancala has lasted for many years because each past and present culture has been able to enjoy it in it's own special way: as an important family game, a ceremonial right of passage, or a form of recreation among friends. The type of Mancala board varies, the wealthy may play on carved ivory boards covered with gold, or it could be just a few holes in the ground with pebbles as playing pieces.
Our Mancala is played on a pine board with 14 pits: six small playing pits and one large score pit (on the players right), the kalaha, for each player. To start, each of the pits contains 4 beads.  The picture shows the board with the pits and kalahas.

HOW TO PLAY
The board is placed between the two players.
The first player then chooses one of his pits and scoops up all the beads. The beads are then placed one at a time into successive pits, moving counter-clockwise around the board.
Beads placed in a kalaha are points for that player.
Players do not drop beads into their opponents' kalaha; they skip it and continue dropping beads until they run out of beads. 
Players take turns until a player has no more beads.
At the end of the game, players count the beads in their kalaha and the player with the most beads wins.


GENERAL RULES (Simple)
If a player drops the last bead into the player’s own kalaha, the player gets to move again.
If a player drops the last bead into an empty pit on the players’ own side, the player takes that bead, plus the beads in the opponent's pit directly opposite and places them in the players own kalaha.
The game ends when one player no longer has beads in his pits. This player takes all of the remaining beads in the opponent's pits.

EGYPTIAN RULES (Simple but with a twist)
Use the General rules except that when the game ends, the player who still has beads left places all remaining beads into his own kalaha.

ETHIOPIAN RULES (Intermediate)
Use the Egyptian rules (above).
Players may choose to move either to the right or to the left on each turn.
Players cannot use a pit with only one bead.

NIGERIAN RULES (Expert)
Use the Egyptian rules except that a player drops a bead into the opponents' kalaha when passing it.
When a player drops the last bead into a pit on either side of the board that is not empty and does not now (after dropping the bead) have 4 beads, that player picks up all the beads from the last pit into which a bead was dropped and continues play.
A player's turn is over when the last bead is dropped into: a) a kalaha; b) an empty pit; or c) a pit that now (after dropping the bead) has 4 beads.
Any time during a move that a pit has 4 beads in it, regardless of who dropped the fourth bead into the pit, the player who owns that pit puts these beads into his own kalaha (that is, in (c) above, the player puts these beads into his kalaha before ending his turn).
For example, Player 1 is dropping beads into the pits on Player 2's side and drops a bead into a pit that already has 3 beads.  Player 2 picks up these 4 beads and puts them into his own kalaha.
The game ends when one player has no beads in the players six pits. The remaining beads on the other player's side are not placed in a kalaha and are not counted in determining a winner.


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