Unlike normal playing pits, stores don't exist in all mancala games. With the exception of a few games, they only exist in those games, in which counters are captured and removed from playing pits. However, not all mancala games for which this is true have stores because captured stones can be collected in other ways, too.
Stores are most common in mancala games, which are played on two-row boards and usually don't exist in games with three or four rows. Boards with stores are most widespread in the Caribbean, West Africa, Central Africa, and Asia.
Bao often has one or two stores, although captured seeds are not removed from the game. They can be used to store the seeds that are added into play during the game, but more often they are used for the keys or the money of the players.
Although Ghanaian Oware boards usually have stores, players don't use them, except for keeping the score of a match. In Antigua and Barbuda, Warri players use the stores to keep the captured seeds, but also to note the match score, using bottle caps.
Stores tend to be larger than playing pits because they must accomodate more counters. Usually they are at the distant ends of the game board, whereas in India, Sri Lanka, Cameroon and the Congo they are often in the center of the board. If the counters are distributed counterclockwise, the player's store is at his right, while in games in which counters are distributed clockwise, it is at his left.
There are two kinds of stores: Those, in which seeds are sown into ("functional stores") and those, which are only used to store seeds that were captured in playing pits.
Functional stores are also called accumulation holes as moves or laps cannot start from them and so seeds will slowly accumulate in them in the course of the game. Depending on the mancala variant stores can be predetermined (ie. exist before the game starts) or they can be acquired later in the game.
In some mancala games (e.g. Sungka, Chongka', Rath, Waurie, Kalah) seeds are sown into the stores as if they were normal playing pits. Usually a player only sows into his own store. Sometimes the store has an additional function, that is, if the last counter of a lap is dropped into the player's own store, he gets a bonus move.
In Cups, a modern game, each move must end in the own store.
Usually fixed stores also serve to keep seeds which have been captured in some other way. There are, however, a few games like the Sudanese Rath, Grand Cayman's Waurie and several modern games like Space Walk, Geisterfahrer and Diffusion, which have stores that are only filled by distributing counters.
In some mancala games playing pits that can be turned into an accumulation hole (e.g. Kotu-baendum, Layli Goobalay, Qelat, Sadéqa, Selus, Toguz Kumalak). Capturing the holes then becomes an important strategy to win the game.
In most games the only "function" of the stores is to keep counters, which were captured in a manner totally unrelated to them. These stores are not actually needed for playing the game as captures can also be kept somewhere else (e.g. in front of the board, in a hand) and seeds are not sown into them. Non-functional stores are also called scoring pits or storing cups.
Specific Names for Stores
|Game||Origin||Name for "Store"||English Meaning|
|Bohnenspiel||Estonia, Germany||Schatzhöhle (FS-N)||"treasure cave" (FS-N)|
|Bulto||Ethiopia, Kenya||Bulto (AS)||"place where you stay overnight" (AS)|
|Congkak||Indonesia||Rumah (FS-F)||"house" (FS-F)|
|Geisterfahrer||Germany (modern game)||Friedhof (FS-F)||"graveyard" (FS-F)|
|Kalah||USA (modern game)||Kalah (FS-F)||perhaps from "to defeat" in Indonesian (FS-F)|
|Kotu-baendum||Sri Lanka||Baenda (AS)||"tied" (AS)|
|Layli Goobalay||Somalia||Uur (AS)||"pregnant" (AS)|
|Pallankuzhi||India||Kasi (FS-N)||"Divine Inner Light", derived from Sanskrit kashi (FS-N)|
|Pass It On||USA (modern game)||Outbox (FS-F)||"outbox" (FS-F)|
|Piç||Turkey||Piç (AS)||"bastard", "illegitimate child" (AS)|
|Rath||South Sudan||Rath (FS-F)||"palace" (FS-F)|
|Selus||Eritrea||Wegue (AS)||"wound" (AS)|
|Space Walk||Germany (Modern Game)||Schwarzes Loch (FS-F)||"black hole" (FS-F)|
|Tchuka Ruma||Indonesia (?)||Ruma (FS-F)||"house" (FS-F)|
|Toguz Kumalak||Central Asia||Kazan (FS-N);
"sacred place", "Ace" (AS)
FS-F = Fixed Store (Functional); FS-N = Fixed Store (Non-Functional);
AS = Acquired Store (All are functional).
- Voogt, A. J. de
- Mancala Board Games. British Museum Press, London (England) 1997.
- Townshend, P.
- Mankala in Eastern and Southern Africa: A Distributional Analysis. In: Azania: Journal of the British Institute in Eastern Africa 1979; 14: 108-138.