Mancala World
Austrian Solitaire
Inventors: Ethan Akin &
Morton Davis, 1985
Ranks: n/a
Sowing: Reverse
Region: USA

Austrian Solitaire, a modern mancala game, was first described in 1985 by Ethan Akin and Morton Davis of the Department of Mathematics, The City College, New York (USA). Professor Akin is a Ph.D. graduate of Princeton University and Professor Davis received his Ph.D. at the University of California (Berkeley).

The game uses reverse sowing, and is closely related to Bulgarian Solitaire.


Austrian solitaire is played by just one person.

In the game, a group of N cards is divided into several stacks. Each stack may not bigger than the fixed integer L. One special stack is called the "bank".

Each move consists of two steps:

  • One card is removed from each ordinary stack and put in the bank.
  • New stacks are formed from the bank, which have exactly the size L, until the size of the bank is < L (including the possibility of exhausting the bank).

The game continues until a unique cycle occurs.

Symbolic Meaning

The invention of the game was inpired by the so-called Austrian school of capital theory, hence its name.

Akin and Davis wrote:

Think of the ordinary stacks as machines. Each machine has, when new, a life of exactly L years. The size of a stack is the number of productive years left for a particular machine. Each year it ages one year (and so one card is removed from the stack). For each machine on line the company deposits 1/L of its cost into the bank as a sinking fund. Then it buys as many new machines as it can afford, and the remaining funds are left in the bank until next year.


Akin, E. & Davis, M.
Bulgarian Solitaire. In: American Mathematical Monthly 1984 (2); 92: 237-250.


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By: Ralf Gering
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