Inventor: Erwin H. Richards, 1890
Variant of Tchouba
Ranks: Four
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: USA

The first commercialized mancala variant in the USA was Chuba ("to extinguish", "to eat up") which was published by "Milton & Bradley" of Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891. They described it as "an adaptation from a rude game of eastern Africa". Chuba was invented by Rev. Dr. Erwin H. Richards, a resident of Norwalk, Ohio, who filed a patent application on November 20, 1890. The patent number dated March 17, 1891, is 448,574. E. H. Richards was a Methodist missionary who founded in 1890 the United Methodist Mission at Chicuque, Mozambique, which today has become the Igreja Metodista Unida em Mozambique.


Chuba Board

Without doubt the game is derived from Tschuba, a game played by the Thonga or Shangaans who live from St. Lucia Bay, South Africa, to the Sabie River in southern Mozambique. The rules are identical with those of a particular form of Tschuba described by Wagner in 1917, but its exact initial position seems to be unknown in Africa.


Chuba is played on a board of four parallel rows made of eleven holes called "pockets". Each player confines his playing to the two rows nearest to him. At each end the board is provided with a receptacle for containing the captured counters in the playing of the game. Initially there is one counter in each pocket of the outer rows, while there are two counters in the pockets of the inner rows except the pocket on the extreme left (as seen from the respective player) which is kept vacant.


Initial Position

Play is counter-clockwise around the two rows owned by the same player.

Moves are multi-lap. If the last counter is dropped into a non-empty pocket, its contents are redistributed, until the last counter falls into an empty pocket.

If the last counter is put into an empty pocket of the inner row, opposite a non-empty pocket in the opponent's inner row, the contents of the opponent's pocket are captured as well as all contents in the opponent's pocket behind it. Furthermore, another pair of enemy pockets is selected (whether filled or not) and their contents being also captured. The captured counters are removed from the board and stored in the receptacles.

A move may not begin from a pocket holding a single counter if the player has still a pocket containing more than one counter. When a move does begin from a pocket containing a singleton, it can not be played into an occupied pocket.

When all the counters of a player has become single, those remaining in his outer row which have not been played on are forfeited to the opponent.

The winner is the player who captures all his opponent's counters.


Culin, S. 
Mancala: The National Game of Africa. In: Report of the National Museum 1894, 597-511.
Richards, E. H. 
Device for playing Games of Skill. US Patent 448,574. United States Patent Office (USA), Washington D.C. 1891.
Wagner, P.A. 
A Contribution to our Knowledge of the national Game of Skill of Africa. In: Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 1917; 6 (1): 47-68+Plate XIV-XVII.
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