Mancala World

Pas de Deux → German, Portuguese.

Pas de Deux
Inventor: Ralf Gering, 2004
Variant of Oware
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Germany

Pas de Deux (French for: "pair dance") is an Oware variant invented on June 15, 2004 by Ralf Gering, in Bad Breisig, Germany. The game was completely reviewed in December 2007 and several rules changed, after it was shown that the first player had a very strong advantage.

Even the best state-of-the-art computers cannot solve Pas de Deux by brute force because the branching factor of its game tree is much too high. The first turn can be made in 64 different ways. After each player has played once, 4,096 different board positions can exist. Humans should be able to outperform any computer programmes playing this game.



Initial Position

The game has the same rules as Oware (Abapa version) except for a few changes:

  • Initially there are six seeds in each hole and the game is played on a slightly larger board (2x8) than Oware.
  • A turn may either consist of one or two moves depending on the player's choice. A double-move is called "pas de deux'".
  • The last move of a turn may not capture all opponent's seeds. It is permitted to do such a move, but it captures nothing.
  • If a player has no seeds left, he must be fed in at least one of the two moves of a turn, if possible. However, a player does not have to play the first move in such a manner that he can feed his opponent in the second move. If he does it anyway, he must play the second move too.


A good technique is to feed your opponent in the first part and then to capture these seeds in the second part.



South can capture two seeds by playing "pas de deux". In the first move he empties the marked hole.


He sows the two seeds and feeds his opponent.


But then he captures two seeds.

Pas de Deux Puzzle


South to play and win! Note that North only needs one seed to draw.


Gering, R.
Spiced-up Oware: Pas de Deux (e-mail to Yahoo's Mancala Games mailing list). June 15, 2004.
Gering, R.
Pas de Deux: Recent Improvements (e-mail to Yahoo's Mancala Games mailing list). July 25, 2004.
Gering, R.
Pas de Deux Reviewed. (e-mail to Yahoo's Mancala Games mailing list). July 16, 2007.

Solution to the Puzzle

1. 1 2 (A)
2. 2 3
3. 3 4
4. 4 5
5. 5 6
6. 6 7
7. 7-8(x14) 8
8. 1 - wins the last seed.

If North wants to hasten the decision he could play

1. ... 2-3
2. 2-3 4-5
3. 4-5 6-7
4. 7-8!(x14) 8
5. 1 or 6 - wins the last two seeds.


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