Mancala World
First Description: E. de M.
Humphies, 1906
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Pussa Kanawa
Region: India (Uttar Pra-

Pachgarhwa was first described in 1906 by E. de M. Humphries, a civil servant appointed as the Sub-divisional Officer at Karwi Sub-division at United Provinces, Northern India (today in the Bandi District of Uttar Pradesh).

No cultural background is given except that it "appears to be more popular than its intrinsic interest would seem to merit".

A similar games appears to be Longbeu-a-cha, which is played by the Lakhers in Assam.


The board consists of two rows, each one with five holes.

Initially there are five pieces in each hole. The counters are made of a material called kankar, presumably a mineral used as a construction material, a calcareous laterite with a high lime content.


Initial Position

Each player controls the holes on his side of the board.

At his turn a player takes all the pieces from any hole on his side of the board and sows them in an anticlockwise direction, one in each hole. After the player has distributed all the counters, he takes those in the next hole and continues the move by sowing them.

The turn ends when the last stone is put into a hole, which is followed by an empty one.

If the hole following the empty one is occupied, he captures its contents. Thus the contents of two, three and even more holes can be captured, if these are separated by empty holes.

The player who captures more seeds wins the game.

According to the description the game ends when "all the pieces on the board are exhausted". This is indeed possible, although it is a rather unusual ending. Humphries failed to explain what would happen if a player has no pieces to distribute, while his opponent has still pieces left in his holes.

Similar games (e.g. Bay Khom, Walak-pussa) include the following rule:

The game ends when a player has no legal move and the remaining pieces are captured by his adversary.

Pachgarhwa was played in several rounds, in which holes could be captured, but the exact rules weren't given either as "by that time things began to get complicated and I was unable to discover how, if ever, the game ended".


Humphries, E. de M. 
Notes on Pachesi and Similar Games, as played in Karwi Subdivision, United Provinces. In: Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 1906; 2 (New Series): 117-127. (Republished in: Ray, N. & Ghosh, A. (Ed.) Sedentary Games of India. The Asiatic Society, Calcutta (India) 1999, 77-78.)
Murray, H. J. R. 
A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Oxford University Press, Oxford (UK) 1951, 169.


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By: Víktor Bautista i Roca
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