Inventor: Walter Joris,
Ranks: One
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Belgium

Canicas (Spanish: "beads") was first described by Walter Joris from Belgium in his book "100 Strategic Games for Pen and Paper" in 2002. This very unusual mancala game can be played with paper and pencil.


The board and counters are drawn on a sheet of paper with coloured crayons.

Canicas is played on a one-row board. The "board" size may vary depending on the player's choice. A challenging game may have 11 fields.

Each field has two marbles at the beginning, a black one (for "Black") and a yellow one (for "White").

In addition, each player has a big reserve of marbles of his own colour.

Initial Position

Black starts the game.

On their first turn, players put two of their marbles in any fields. If smaller boards are used, just one marble is taken.

Then, in the following turns, marbles are "sown", that is, distributed one by one into the ensuing fields.

The fields must be thought of as being arranged in a circular fashion. Black plays counterclockwise, White clockwise.

However, players don't distribute the contents of a field, but enter each turn new marbles from their reserve. First they count how many marbles a field contains, then they take the same number from their reserve and sow them as if these marble were picked up from that field.

The fields are filled from left to right and top to bottom.

When a field is completely filled, it is no longer used in the game. A turn can neither start from such a field, nor can a marble be sown into it.

Players score points each time they complete the line of a field, except for the first line (see diagram at right).

The game ends when all of the fields are completely filled.

The player who gained most points wins.

A draw is impossible in this variation because the sum of all points is odd (165 points).


Joris, W.
100 Strategic Games for Pen and Paper. Carlton Books Limited, London (England) 2002.
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