Mancala World
Other Names: La'b Akila,
La'b Hakimi, Mangala
First Description: Thomas
Hyde, 1694
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Israel, Palestine

Al-manqala (Arabic for: "to transfer") is the mancala game played by Palestinians in Galilee, Palestine. It is popular in Palestinian inns and usually played by men. The game is probably identical (or at least very close) to a variant of Mangala observed by Thomas Hyde among the Arabs in the late 17th century. In the 19th century, Stewart Culin found the game in Syrian cafes in Damascus, where it was called La'b Hakimi ("Rational Game") or La'b Akila ("Intelligent Game").

The game has been documented in 2007 by Dr. Moslih Kanaaneh from Arrabeh in the Galilee, professor of anthropology and sociology at Birzeit University on the occupied West Bank.

The wooden Al-manqala board is made of oak soaked in olive oil and covered with tar. The counters are white beads.

"The people of Aleppo in general lead a sedentary life. Dancing is not deemed a genteel accomplishment. Chess, and a kind of back-gammon are played by both sexes. They have two other games peculiar to the country, called mankala and tabwaduk."

Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn (1819)


The Al-manqala board consists of two rows of holes called byot ("houses"; plural of beit), each row having seven byot. A player controls the seven byot in his row.

At the beginning there are seven beads in each hole.


Initial Position

On his turn a player sows the beads of one of his byot counterclockwise into the ensuing holes, one at a time.

If a player has all his holes empty, his opponent must, if possible, make a move which leaves him something to play with.

The move ends after a single lap.

If the last bead falls in a byot having 1 or 3 beads, thus making a two or a four, the player "eats" that byot. The beads are removed and put aside.

If the preceding byot contain two or four beads at the time of capture, their contents are also taken as long as they form an unbroken sequence.

Players may capture on either side of the board.

The game ends, when one player can no longer move or the remaining counters continue to circle around the board.

  • If an opponent's houses are all empty, the current player must make a move that gives the adversary beads. When he can't feed him, his opponent wins the beads that are still left on the board.
  • If both players agree that the game has been reduced to an endless cycle, the beads are equally divided between both players.

The player who gets 50 beads or more wins.

Endgame Problem


South needs four beads to win the game. South to move!

See also

External Links


Culin, S.
Mancala: The National Game of Africa. In: Report of the National Museum, Philadelphia (USA) 1894: 597-611.
Dearborn, H. A. S.
A Memoir on the Commerce and Navigation of the Black Sea and the Trade and Maritime Geography of Turkey and Egypt. Wells & Lilly, Boston (USA) 1819, 132.
Hyde, T.
De Ludis Orientalibus. Oxford (England) 1694, 226-232.


(A) If South protects his single bead by moving it to the next house, he will lose:

2?, 7, South can't feed his opponent. North wins the remaining beads!

(B) South must sacrifice his single bead to win!

3!, 7 (+2), 7!, 1, 4 (+2), 2, 6, 3, 7, 4, 1 and North can't feed South. South also wins the two last beads left on the board.


Adapted from the Wikinfo article, "Al-manqala", used under the GNU Free Documentation License.