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Um el-Bagara (Mangala, The Cow Game)





Eastern Africa, Middle Africa, Northern Africa


Board, Sow, Two rows.


Um el-Bagara is a two-row mancala-style game board from Sudan. It was documented in the early twentieth century but is probably much older. The game is usually played as holes dug into the sand, with two rows of five holes.


Play begins with five counters in each hole. Players sow from any one of their holes. Sowing can occur in the following directions: From the leftmost two holes: clockwise. From the rightmost two holes: anti-clockwise. from the center hole: the player may choose either direction. If the final counter falls into a hole in the opponent's row containing either one or three counters, making it now contain two or four, these are taken. If the holes before them also contain two or four, in an unbroken sequence, they may all be captured. Single counters cannot be sown. When neither player can move, the single counters in each player's rows are taken by the player belonging to those rows. The player with the most counters wins.

Davies 1925: 140-141.



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Um el-Bagara.lud


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Murray 1951: 194

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Davies, R. 1925. 'Some Arab Games and Puzzles.' Sudan Notes and Records. 8: 137–152.

Murray, H.J.R. 1951. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Oxford: Clarendon Press.




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