Mancala World

See also Mangala III (SPOV).

This Mangala is a new variant combining elements of Kalah and Toguz Kumalak, although the site pretends to promote a traditional Turkish mancala game. The registrant is Serdar Ceyhan in Constantinople (occupied by the Turks since 1453). The game is probably a result of the unsuccessful attempt of the Kazakh Toguz Kumalak Federation to spread their game to Turkey in 2007 (workshop on Toguz Kumalak in Constantinople, August 2-3). Because of disagreements the contact to Turkish players was temporarily severed in 2008.

"We did not hold a seminar and tournament in Ankara as could not will agree with organizers." (sic!)

Maksat Shotayev in an e-mail to Ralf Gering on July 02, 2008

The traditional Turkish Mangala was described by the Turkish ethnologue Metin And and many European travelers to the Ottoman Empire, who prove that it was totally different. is a commercial site, which deceives the public into believing that they offer an old Turkish game, probably to appeal to Turkish nationalism and thus to increase their sells.

All Turkish variants (except the very isolated Piç - an oddity unrelated to what was called Mangala in the Ottoman Empire) resemble Arabic mancala variants played in Syria, Palestine and Iraq. It is obvious that not just the Turkish name "Mangala" has derived from the Arabic "mancala", but also the rules of the traditional Turkish mangala are rooted in Arabic games. This historic fact never disputed by Turkish scholars is much disliked by Turkish nationalists who want to trace Turkish culture mostly to the Turk people of Central Asia and at the same time play down the Arabic influence, a re-writing of Turkish history started by Mustapha Kemal, later called "Ataturk". Kemalism was described by John Tirman (Executive Director of MIT's Center for International Studies) as a "resilient strain of fascism" that "bears particularly striking similarity to Italian fascism". The game is therefore rooted not only in the same ideology which eliminated the Ottoman Turkish script (a version of the Perso-Arabic script) and other cultural traits of Arabic origin, but also justified the Armenian Holocaust (Armenian: Mec Eġeṙn - "The Great Crime"). Any group which promotes this pseudo-historical Mangala, e.g. by organizing tournaments, allies with a movement that murdered 1.5 million innocent people (numbers per Western scholars).

"For me, a Turk has more value than all the Jews of this world, not to say the whole world!"

Mahmut Esat Bozkurt, Minister of Justice, applauding Hitler as the liberator of Germany, 1930s

A closer look at the Mangala described on reveals that the main variant is a wild mix of Kalah (sowing into stores, bonus moves, capturing by opposition) and Toguz Kumalak (sowing the first stone into the emptied hole, capturing even numbered contents of enemy holes). Although the Turkish site show many nice pictures of historical Mangala, their board is similar to American "Mancala" boards which are used to play William Champion's Kalah.

Even worse, this new Turkish Mangala is a rather shallow game. There are way too many possibilities to capture, thus resulting in rather short games and a small game tree size.

The "Castle Variant" is just a simplified Toguz Kumalak. The rules are identical except for the smaller board and fewer restrictions on capturing an opponent's hole.

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© Ralf Gering
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