Mancala World
Coin Duel
Inventors: Arthur & Wald
Amberstone, 1960s
Variant of: Cups
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: USA

Coin Duel, a mancala game, was invented by Arthur and Wald Amberstone from New York, USA, in the 1960s. It naturally evolved from Cups in three stages. As compared to the original game, Coin Duel is far more complex.


Stage 1:

The basic rules and mechanisms of cups remain the same, except for the following modifications:

The board is always ten cups long plus a pot on each end.

Each player has a total of 40 beans. At this stage, coins have not yet made their appearance.


Initial Position

On the first turn of the game for each player, up to four beans may be seeded, no more.

On subsequent turns, a player may play from his reserve up to four beans or as many beans as it takes to seed one cup beyond his furthest bean on the board.

A player may play from the board by picking up all his beans in any of his cups and seeding them forward. The move continues when the last bean of his initial play lands in a cup containing other beans. In this case, all the beans in that cup are picked up and seeded forward in the usual way. The turn only ends when the last bean in a play ends in the pot, or in an empty cup. This is the full standard mancala mechanism, which was truncated for use in the original form of Cups.

When playing from the reserve the move can end in an empty hole even without a capture. When playing from the board, however, the turn must end in a score or the move is not permissible.

When a player has exhausted his reserve, he may continue to play from the board on his turn until he has no more permissible moves.

The game is over for both players when either player can make no legal move on his turn. At this point, the beans in both pots are counted, and as in the current form of the game, all others, both in reserve and on the board, are void. The player with the higher bean count scores. The other gets nothing.

Stage 2

The rules are the same as in stage 1, but the beans now become coins. Each player has 40 coins: ten pennies, ten nickels, ten dimes and ten quarters (the coin denominations would be different in different countries but the principle is the same). When scoring, the value of each coin is its nominal value - each penny = 1, each nickel = 5, each dime = 10 and each quarter = 25.

Stage 3

The game is played in four rounds.

Each player has 40 coins, of which only 31 are used in each round.

In round one, the 31 coins for each player consist of 10 quarters, ten dimes, ten nickels and one penny.

In round two, the coins are ten each of quarters, dimes and pennies, with one nickel.

In round three, there is one dime and ten each of the others, and in round four, there is one quarter and ten each of the others.

The primary object in each round is to score the single coins which are called winning coins. A player may score his own winning coin to the pot, and he may also capture his opponent's winning coin in the usual way. In any round, a player may score either one winning coin, both, or none.

The round is over when both winning coins have been scored, either by seeding to the pot or by capture.

The coins in the pot are counted in the following way: The winning coins in a round count 10x their nominal value so the winning pennies have a value of ten each, winning nickels have a value of 50 each, etc. All other coins equal their nominal value.

To count his score, a player must have gained at least one of the two winning coins of the round. If not, he scores nothing.

When both players have scored one of the winning coins in a round, they both count the value of their pots. Only the higher score counts; the lower one is voided.

Playing rules are also modified, and in a significant way. When playing from the board, a player may seed in either direction from any of his cups. He may play from the board with no requirement that the turn end in a score.

When the original play, either from the board or from the reserve, is continued from a filled cup, the continuation may also be in either direction from the new cup. Several continuations can arise from a single original play. A turn is over only when the last coin of a play ends in an empty cup or in the player's pot.

The denomination of the coins a player seeds from his reserve, as well as the order in which they are seeded, is his choice. The order in which the coins of any cup are played from the board is also the player's choice.

To avoid confusion, when a player has picked up the coins from a cup, he must play them. Once a coin is seeded, it may not be retrieved and replaced by a different coin.

A turn that inadvertently ends with more than one coin left to seed to a player's pot is considered an illegal play. Picking up the coins in a cup and then replacing them without seeding them is an illegal move. Changing a coin that has already been seeded on that turn is illegal. If a player makes an illegal move, the game is over at that point, regardless of the status of the winning coins. He loses and scores nothing. His opponent scores whatever is in his pot at the time plus the value of both winning coins for the round.

If one player concedes a round during play, he scores nothing for that round, an the other player scores the contents of his pot at the time plus the value of both winning coins.

The winner of the game is the player with the highest combined score from all four rounds. For those who like to gamble, the score can be given a monetary value. For example, let's say that one player has won a round with 225 points. At ten cents per point, the win would be worth $22.50. At $1.00 per point, it would be worth $225.00 to the winner.


Amberstone, W. 
Cups rules - expanded. [E-mail to R. Gering, July 4th, 2005]


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