Mancala World
el mirall
Inventors: (?), 2004
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Spain (Catalonia)

On November 10, 2004, two 9 year old kids invented a game in an Oware workshop for 8-11 year olds at a school in Argentona, Catalonia. They called their mancala game el mirall (Catalan for "the mirror"). It resembles a solitaire, although it is played by two people.


The game is played on a 2x6 board with four seeds in each pit at the beginning.


Starting Position

Two players participate, but they don't interact with each other. Each player plays only in his row of six pits. One player begins in his left-most pit, and the other player in his right-most pit, so they begin in adjacent pits. In each move, the player takes the left-most occupied pit (the other player does the same with his right-most pit) and distributes its contents to the right (the other player to his left), dropping seeds one by one. When they reach the end of the row, the sowing continues in the left-most (right-most) pit of the same row.

Both players perform symmetric moves all the time, hence the name of the game.

The game ends when both players reach the initial position again.


The teacher thought that the initial position would never repeat, but they proved him to be wrong: seeds get accumulated in the right-most (left-most) pit so that they eventually all end up there, and when you move from those pits, which then contain 24 seeds, four seeds are sown in each pit of the board.

It is a game of coordination as nobody attempts to win the race, but to do all the moves and sowings synchronically and reach the end of the game at the same time albeit as fast as possible.


We can calculate the number of moves needed to reach the objective. The rows are the number of pits, the columns the number of seeds per pit:

X 1 2 3 4 5
1 1 1 1 1 1
2 2 3 3 4 4
3 5 7 8 10 11
4 7 12 12 18 20


Cases i Majoral, S.
Nice boys, nice game (e-mail to Yahoo's Mancala Games mailing list). November 12, 2004.


© Wikimanqala.
By: Víktor Bautista i Roca
Under the CC by-sa 2.5 license.