Mancala World
Catch 19
Inventor: (?), early 1980s
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: UK

Catch 19, a mancala game, was invented in the early 1980s by an unknown author in the UK. In 1981, it was published by Waddingtons. The game was sold with an three-dimensional board, but a standard Oware or Kalah board can be used, too.


The game needs a board with two rows, each one with six tubes (serving as "pits"). Each player controls the row closest to him.

Every tube contains three balls at the start of the game.


Initial Position (Schematic)

On his turn a player empties one of his tubes and then distributes its balls counterclockwise into the following tubes, one by one.

If the last ball falls in an empty tube in the player's own row, he captures the last ball sown and all the balls in your opponent's adjacent tubes. If a Kalah / Oware board is used, the balls of the opposite hole and the hole immediately adjacent to its left (in counterclockwise direction), are taken.

The game ends as soon as a player has all of his tubes empty.

The remaining balls are won by the player who has nothing in his tubes.

The player who captured at least 19 balls wins, hence the name of the game.

When both players captured the same number, the game is a draw.


Catch 19 has a huge first-move advantage. The game can be much improved by starting with five balls in each tube. This variation called Catch 31 is much deeper and well-balanced. Players need to capture at least 31 balls to win.

External Links


Adapted from the Wikinfo article, "Catch 19", used under the GNU Free Documentation License.