Situation puzzles

Puzzles, situation puzzles and recreational mathematics.

situation puzzles and recreational mathematics. Neuron juice

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The important thing is not to stop questioning. (Albert Einstein.)




Materials: Wood.
Category: Board.
Number of pieces: 



Mancala (from the Arabic word naqala (نقلة) meaning literally 'to move') is a family of board games mainly African and Asian that share a series of characteristics:

  1. The board is formed by a series of receptacles (that can be holes on the ground or on a piece of wood) arranged into lines.
  2. These receptacles have pieces in them (seeds, pebbles, marbles) that are the movable elements in the game.
  3. The basic movement is that known as 'sowing'. It consist in taking all the seed from one receptacle and dropping them one-by-one into subsequent holes.

Using these general characteristics there is a number of rules that make up other games.

The number of lines of receptacles lets us make a basic clasification of these games:

  1. Two-line mancala (such as wari): in these games, each player owns a line. Sowing movement takes the seeds from one line to another. Players can only take seeds from their own line, capture takes place (in different ways, depending on the game) and, at the end of the game, the winner is the one that has captured more seeds.
  2. Four-line mancala (such as bao): in these games, each player owns two consecutive lines. Sowing movement keeps the seeds in the two lines owned by the player moving, but under certain circumstances they can take seeds from a receptacle owned by the opponent and join them to their own seeds. At the end of the game, the winner is the one that has more seeds in their two lines.
  3. Odd-line mancala: These are versions  with one (solitaire game) or three lines.



Wikipedia contributors. Mancala [online]. Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia, 2007 [date of query: May 11, 2007]. Available at <>.