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Evidence for Um el Banât

1 pieces of evidence found.

Id DLP.Evidence.703
Type Ethnography
Location Kababish
Date 1925-01-01CE - 1925-12-31CE
Rules Two rows of six holes Four counters in each hole Players sow from any of the holes in their row in an anti-clockwise direction. When the final counter of a sowing falls into an occupied hole (except in the scenario below), these are picked up and sowing continues. If the final counter falls into either an empty hole or one of the opponent's holes with three counters, making that hole now have four counters, the sowing ends. When the final counter falls into a hole in the opponent's row containing four counters after sowing concludes, this hole is marked. If a player sows their final counter into their opponent's marked hole. the final counter and one of the counters in the hole are captured. The player then gets another turn. If the final counter falls into a player's own marked hole, the turn ends. The contents of marked holes cannot be sown. The game ends when only marked holes contain counters. These are then captured by the players who marked them. A new game begins. The player with the most counters places four in each hole beginning from the left hole in their row. Each hole that contains four counters is owned by that player for the new round. If the player has three counters remaining after filling as many holes with four as possible, they borrow one counter from the opponent to make four and own the corresponding hole. If there are two or one remaining, the opponent borrows these to fill and own the last hole. Play continues until one player owns no more holes.
Content Davies 1925:143-144 4. Um El Banât, or The Game of Daughters "This game is for two players, each of whom has six houses containing initially four counters each (Fig. 8). It introduces a new principle in counter-distribution, in that a player, picking up the contents of one of his own houses and dropping them one by one in an anti-clockwise direction, does not end his move with the fall of the last counter unless (a) it falls into a house previously empty, or (b) it falls on to three others in one of his opponent's houses. In other cases he picks it up, together with any together with any other counters contained in the house into which it just fell, and goes on distributing these counters, often moving several times round the board, until he is brought to a standstill by one of the happenings (a) or (b). In case (b) the player is said to have "begotten a daughter" in his opponent's house and the house has a mark put against it to indicate the fact. The "birth" to one player or the other, of one or more "daughters," introduces a new factor into the game, and that the determining factor. For if, now, A can so move that the last counter dropped falls into the house of B's daughter, he removes it and one other from that house and from the board and plays again. In doing so he is said to "peck" her. Also, if either player drops the last counter from his hand into the house of one of his own daughters, he is said to have "given her a drink" or to have "nourished" her and his move stops. Daughters, it will be observed, are a source for profit and a loss to their father, but all are not equally so. Fig. 9. shows a stage of the game at which B has two daughters in houses D1 and D2. If A is to move, he can begin with the two counters in house X, drop one into W and the other into D1, from which he then removes two from the board. Moving again, he can pick up the one counter just dropped into W, drop it into D1 and again remove two. Playing again from Y, he again removes two, after which he can again score by playing from W. D2, on the other hand, is much more immune from "pecking." It is true that by moving from Z, A can "peck" at her once, but he cannot repeat the process, while, also, practically every move which B makes adds to the counters in D2. The contents of a daughter's house cannot be piked up and moved, so that a stage of the game is completed when the board is left with no counters in it except those in the various daughter's houses. Each player then removes the counters pertaining to his own daughters, adds them to those previously removed by him from the board and divides them into fours. In the result, B has perhaps gained eight counters from A. The game is, however, by no means ended at this point. The board is reset, only this time B has eight houses and A only four, a state of affairs indicated by a deep groove in the sand (Fig. 10). If B has gained three counters, over and above some multiple of four from A, he borrows one more from A to make up a complete house, but if B has gained a multiple of four plus two counters or one, A borrows these back to make up his last house. Play proceeds until one player has driven the other off the board altogether, and therefore it may last for hours; for as the result of the second stage of play A may win back a house or more, and so the fortunes of the game may fluctuate for many successive stages. In practice, it requires great skill, or, rather swift and accurate calculation, to foresee the result of a given move. Some Arabs are quite extraordinarily good at it, notably Sheikh Ali El Tom, the Nazir of the Kababish, who, with hardly any hesitation, will accurately predict the result of a move which takes him three or four times round the board.
Confidence 100

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