Mancala World

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Although I know hundreds of traditional mancala games from Africa and Asia, not one of these games is played with exactly the same set of rules that is used in Kalah. As long as no such game has been found in Africa or Asia, this variant has been "invented" by W. Champion.

--Mr Mancala 16:16, February 13, 2010 (UTC)

'Kalah' is also an Indonesian word (rooted from Javanese) which means 'loose' or 'lost a game'. The wooden board for the game are used to be played by Javanese girls. In Indonesian, the game is called 'dakon' or 'congklang'. Similar games were also found across some islands (e.g. Sumatera, Sulawesi/Celebes, Timorese) of Indonesia with various names. In Java island, the most common beans, peables or cowry-shells put in the holes of the game wooden board are usually from 'sawo' fruit that looks alike Kiwi fruit but has very different taste.

The word 'dakon' and a brief explanation of the game can be found in Kamus Lengkap Indonesia-Inggris (English version: A Comprehensive Indonesian-English Dictionary - 2004) by Alen M.Stevens, A. Ed Schmidgal Tellings, published by Ohio University Press. The word is mentioned in the second meaning of the itemized word 'congkak II' at page 210.LoekyH 22:13, January 8, 2012 (UTC)

It is correct that 'Kalah' is an Indonesian word. However, nobody knows for sure why Champion called his game "Kalah". Some believe that he derived it from the Kalahari desert in Namibia (e.g. Times Magazine in 1963). Others believe that it is just short for Mankala(h). Others point to the capital of Assyria, which was also called Kalah (today: Nimrud). Champion actually claimed that his game was Assyrian. In my opinion, the name of the game is truly borrowed from Indonesian (or maybe Timorese). BTW, we already have articles about Dakon and Congkak. --Mr Mancala 18:29, January 4, 2012 (UTC)

Recent research by Mark Rawlings[]

Mark Rawlings has been doing outstanding research on Kalah recently, which already yielded very interesting results that should be added. He has already solved Kalah(6;5)-Standard Rules and is going to solve Kalah(6;6)-SR soon too.

In addition he can analyze now Kalah positions in depth including the sample game 1, of which he wrote:

Here is some computer analysis of Example Game 1, using the following bin

numbers. Play is in a counter-clockwise direction. South moves from bins 1

through 6 and North moves from bins 8 through 13. Bin 14 is North's store and

bin 7 is South's store.

      <--- North
 13  12  11  10   9   8    
 14                   7   
  1   2   3   4   5   6     
        South --->

Position at move 5:

     Ralf Gering
  4  11   0  11   0   0    
  7                   6   
 11  10  10   1   1   0     
   Arty Sandler to move

In this position, the best move is from bin 4, which will give Ralf a 4 seed

victory. However, Arty moves from bin 3, which loses by 10.

After the move from bin 3, Ralf is faced with this position:

  Ralf Gering to move:
  5  12   1  12   1   1     
  7                   7    
 11  10   0   2   2   1      
      Arty Sandler

The best move here is from bin 10, which will preserve the 10 seed victory.

However, Ralf moves from bin 11, which reduces his victory margin to 2.

Game play continues perfectly for many moves (including an incredible 12-move

sequence by Ralf at move 8!) until Arty makes several errors at move 9. Here

is the position at Arty's second turn at move 9:

  0   1   1   1   0   0    
 31                  20   
  0   5   3   1   0   9     
      Arty to move

This is an instructive position, with only 21 seeds remaining, that shows just

how complicated Kalah can get. Humans generally look for captures and multiple

turn moves. Arty can quickly see a multiple turn sequence of 2, 3, 5, 4, and

then a capture moving from bin 6. These moves, however, lose by 8! The best

move (which preserves the loss by 2) is from bin 4. [The perfect play sequence

from this position begins: 4, 12, 2, 5...]

simulation problems[]

Trying to replay game #1 results in a first mismatch in turn 7, where player 1 should be +5 and not +2

Game #3 should end with +32 and not +33.