Mancala World
Other Names: Snake
Inventor: Fred Horn,
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Netherlands

The Slangenspel ("Snake Game") was invented by the well-known Dutch game collector and historian Fred Horn in 1999. It is a modern mancala game with an unsual distribution path and capturing mechanism.


The game is played on a very unusual snake-like board with 16 holes arranged in two rings, a tail and a head, and two stores (I-II) in the center.

Game Board

Initially there are five snake eggs in each wit hole of the snake (1-16).

One player (A) plays from the outer ring and his opponent (B) plays from the inner ring.

At his turn a player distributes the contents of one of his holes, one by one, into consecutive holes (as indicated by the numbers; 16 is followed by 1), either clockwise or counter-clockwise. The eggs are sown in both rings.

If the last egg is sown into the last wit hole of either end (1 or 16), he may place this egg on the adjacent head or tail. However, he may also choose to leave the egg just where it is.

If he places the egg on the head, he captures this egg and all the eggs he has just sown in the outer ring in that turn.

If he puts the egg on the tail, he captures this egg and all the eggs he has just sown in the inner ring in that turn.

The head and the tail are special holes that are only used for capturing eggs.

The game ends when a player has no eggs left in his ring or when useful moves are no longer possible.

The player who captures more eggs wins the game.


Variant A

A variant suggested by F. Horn to make the opening stage more interesting:

  • At the start of the game, each player has 15 eggs in his store.
  • At his turn a player chooses an empty hole from which he wants to play.
  • He then takes five eggs from the storage and sows them from that hole.
  • A player can play three times from his store in a game.

Variant B

The Snake endgame tends to be rather awkward as most often eggs remain on the board that cannot be captured. The following rule changes were proposed to avoid these endgame situations:

  • If just single eggs remain, it is not permitted to move them back to the wit hole from which they were sown.
  • It is not permitted to sow a single egg into a hole which contains just one egg unless it is an end hole.
  • A player may pass, if he has no eggs to play with.
  • The game ends when the wit holes are empty.


Nierse, R.
Snake Game (E-mail). Voorhout (Netherlands) June 4, 2003.


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By: Ralf Gering & Víktor Bautista i Roca
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