Encyclopedia > Mancala

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A mancala game is a board game which has a series of holes arranged in a number of rows (usually 2 or 4), each hole containing a number of seeds (or stones). The most well-known games of this family are,

(See also List of Mancala variants).

Often uninformed people mistakenly assume these term are synonymous with a single Mancala game.

In May 2002 two scientists from the Free University in Amsterdam[?], Netherlands reported that they had used computers to "solve" the game of awari[?] using a brute force approach. Over 1 trillion positions were considered, with their solution demonstrating that perfect play will lead to a draw.

Mancala games have existed for hundred of years in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia. Although the game existed in pockets in Europe (it is recorded as being played as early as the 17th century by merchants in England) it has never gained much popularity. The USA has a larger mancala playing population, although many of these players are descendants of slaves imported from Africa.

It is unknown where or when the game of mancala was originally invented, although Ethiopia is currently considered the most likely source. Even less is known about the age of the game, which is generally placed as between 1000 and 3000 years.

External link


  • Philip Townshend, African Mankala in Anthropological Perspective, Current Anthropology, Vol. 20, No. 4. (Decemeber 1979), pp. 794-796.

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