Mancala World
Balduman's Mancala Game
Inventor: Agapito P. Balduman, 1979
Variant of Dakon
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: USA

Balduman's Mancala Game was patented by the Filipino Agapito P. Balduman in 1979 when he was living in District Heights (Md.), USA. His mancala game which he described as "particularly desirable and challenging" can be played by two or three persons.

In its two players form this game is almost the same as Sungka, a game played in Malaysia and the Philippines. These games have the same set-up and direction of play, the same simultaneous move mechanism which is used in traditional games to avoid the advantage of playing first, and "goals" that have a similar function. Balduman's game differs from Sungka in the way of capturing counters, using bonus holes instead of capturing from the opponent's side, and in that at the end of the game, when one player has no counters on his side, he takes all the ones remaining in play.


The two-person game is played on a board of 2 x 7 "pockets". At the left end of each row, there is a larger "goal" to store the captured counters. The seventh pocket immediately adjacent to the goal (marked in the diagram below) is called "bonus pocket" and has a special meaning during the game. The three-person game uses a triangular board of 3 x 7 pockets, but is otherwise identical.

At the start there are seven marbles (or pebbles) in each pocket.


Initial Position (Two-person Variant)

The first move (including bonus moves) is conducted simultaneously. The second move and all of the following moves are played alternately. It is started by the player who finished first the opening.

Players select a pocket on their side and then sow its contents one by one into the following pockets and the own goal in clockwise fashion.

At no time does a player either remove or deposit any marbles in his opponent's goal.

Play is multi-lap and bonus moves are permitted. Succeeding laps are initiated from the pocket in which the player dropped his last marble and play ends when the last marble in any hand falls into an empty pocket.

Any time a player finishes seeding by placing his last marble in his own goal, he picks up all of his marbles in his bonus pocket and puts them in his own goal. Then the player continues to play by starting his next move from any of his pocket he desires.

The first player to clear his row of pockets of all marbles acquires all of the marbles remaining in play on the opposite side of the board which are placed in his own goal (an endgame rule also found in Sahara). The game thus ends since no more marbles remain in play. The player having the most marbles in his goal wins the game.

Three Players

For three players, play is essentially the same, except that after simultaneous play is terminated, the three players will take turns in an order determined by the order in which they dropped out of the simultaneous playing stage. The first player who withdraw from play will be the first player to resume play.


Balduman offered some advice for good play:

  • It is wise for both players to select their right-most pocket for his first move.
  • A strategic move for a player is to terminate a move in his opponent's bonus pocket.
  • Conversely, it is a poor move for a player to terminate a play in his own bonus pocket.


Balduman, A. P. 
Mancala Board Game Assembly. US Patent 4,142,728. US Patent Office, Washington DC (USA) Mar. 6, 1979.


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