Mancala World

Andada → Italian.

First Description: Richard
Pankhurst, 1971
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Eritrea

Andada is played by the Kunama in western Eritrea, mainly by the elders, often by teams of two, three or four. The boards are dug in the ground.

The game was first described by Richard Pankhurst in 1972 who called it "Andada I (Game 10)".


Andada is based on two long rows of any multiple of three from 12 to no less than 24 holes, which are called ita ("house"). Initially there are two seeds in each hole called ayla ("cow").


Initial Position (most challenging board size)

Play is conducted in an anti-clockwise direction, if not otherwise agreed.

On his first turn a player picks up the contents of any hole of his row and drops them one by one in the next two holes, after which he takes up the next pair of seeds, and proceeds in this way, until a 3,3,0 pattern results.


Possible Pattern after the Opening

After the opening, the other player decides whether he or his opponent should play the next move (the first regular move of the game).

Seeds are now distributed one by one in the usual manner. If the last seed falls in a non-empty hole, its contents are picked up and distributed in another lap.

The move ends when the last seed falls in an empty hole.

If the last seed falls in an empty hole on the player's own side, all seeds in the opposite hole of the opponent are removed. The captured seeds are not counted at the end, and, for that reason, they needn't be stored.

When both players have only singletons left, seeds reaching the end of the row are removed from the board, instead of moving across on to the opponent's side.

The player who could move last is declared the winner. A draw is not possible.

The game can be also played by agreement in a clockwise direction, which, however, is less common.

The game is often played in teams of two, three or four players, which control an equal portion. Team members may discuss about how to move best.


Andada is ultra-weakly solved as the second player decides who moves next (pie rule) and the game cannot end in a draw.

Although it is unknown whether it would be better to swap or not, the second player would choose not to swap because the board position after the first move is always symmetrical. He would then imitate the moves of the first player ("move stealing strategy"). If the first player would continue to play moves which didn't reach the right half of his opponent's side (as viewed by his adversary) until the end, the second player would be the last to play and eventually he would win. The first player should therefore try to reach the right half of his opponent, starting with a hole on his own right half and thus break the symmetry. This is difficult to achieve, especially on large boards, although it isn't impossible. However, he will need quite a few moves and there is no guarantee that the resulting asymmetrical position will favor him. His opponent can even deviate from imitating when he believes that the resulting position is good for him long before the first player can break the symmetry. It is for these reasons assumed that the second player has a strong advantage even though he may not know his perfect winning strategy.

The strategy outlined above may not work as well if smaller boards are used. However, smaller boards will lead to shallow games. So the player have to choose between a "deep", but rather unfair game, or a balanced, but rather shallow game.


Pankhurst, R. 
Gabata and Related Board Games of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. In: Ethiopia Observer 1971; 14 (3): 154-206.


© Wikimanqala.
By: Ralf Gering.
Under the CC by-sa 2.5.