Mancala World

Toguz Kumalak → German, Polish, Portuguese, Turkish.

Toguz Kumalak
Other Names: 9Kumalak (English
abbrev.), 9құмалақ (Kazakh abbrev.),
Тоғызқұмалақ (Kazakh), тогуз
кумалак (Russian), Togus Kumalak
(German), Тогуз Коргоол (Kyrgyz),
Toguz Khorgool (English), Toguz
Korgool (English)
First Description: Nikolai Nikolaevich
Pantusov, 1906
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Afghanistan (Badakhshan),
China (Dzungaria), Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia (Bajan Ölgij),
Russia (Altay, Khakassia, Sakha,
Tartaria, Tuva), Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan (Karakalpakstan)

Toguz Kumalak ("nine pebbles") is the Kazakh name of a mancala game also known as Toguz Korgool ("nine dung balls") in Kyrgyz. The number 'nine' has a high significance in the folk beliefs and mythology of Central Asian peoples. It was considered auspicious. The Kyrgyz once divided the year into 40 weeks (one for every Kyrgyz tribe), each with nine days.

The game is played in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, the Republic of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, among the Kyrgyz in north-eastern Afghanistan (Wakhan), parts of Russia (Altay, Khakassia, Sakha, Tartaria, Tuva), by the Kazakh minority in western Mongolia (Bayan Ölgii) and in north-western China (near Urumchi in Dzungaria).

Mancala games reached Central Asia by the Silk Road through the spread of Islam. A closely related game called Piç has been described from the village of Oguzkent near Erzurum (Turkey). It shows that a precursor of the game must already have existed when Turkish people migrated from Central Asia to Anatolia in the 12th century. The oldest Toguz Kumalak boards made of stone are dated in the 16th century. Many boards are traditionally carved in wood, but nowadays they are mostly produced of plastic. In the west, the game was first described in 1906 by Nikolai Nikolaevich Pantusov (Russia) and, in 1911, by Richard Karutz (Germany).

The first tournament, in which players from all over Kazakhstan participated, was held in Almaty in 1948. It was won by Shorman Otegenov from Zhambyl. The Toguz Kumalak rules were unified in 1949 by Muchtar Avezov, Kalibek Kuanishbayev, Sh. Ibrayev and others. Before many different variants existed. Two of them, Bestemshi and Kozdatu, are still played by children. The National Championships of Kazakhstan started in 1974. In 1992, the first Woman Championship of Kazakhstan was won by Irina Nold, a German Russian who now lives in Frankfurt, Germany.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union the game rapidly gains popularity in Central Asia. In 2003, the Kyrgyz Toguz Korgool Federation was formed. The Toguz Kumalak Federation of Kazakhstan began in 2004. In 2008, an international Toguz Kumalak federation was created.

Toguz Kumalak Tournament in Kazakhstan

There are regular Toguz Kumalak championships held in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Russia (Altay). Local tournaments are also in Urumchi, China, and in Mongolia. The first tournament outside Central Asia was organized in August 2006 at the Mindsports Olympiad (MSO) in London, England. It was won by Aidos Seitzhanov from Kazakhstan.

In 2007, tournaments were held in Istanbul (Turkey), Prague (Czech Republic), Ohrid (Macedonia) and London (England). In the following years more tournaments were organized in Pardubice (Czech Republic), Barcelona (Spain), Cannes (France), Schweinfurt (Germany) and La Tour-de-Peilz (Switzerland).

On November 1-7, 2010, the first World Championship was held in Astana, Kazakhstan. The 25 participants of the men's championship represented 14 nations: Antigua and Barbuda, China, Germany, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Mongolia, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Turkmenistan, USA and Uzbekistan. The 18 players of the women's championship came from 10 countries: Azerbaijan, China, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Four nations sent full teams (3 players) in each gender: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Mongolia and Russia. Uzbekistan only had a full male team. Players from Egypt, Tadjikistan, and the Ukraine were also invited, but didn't come. The Toguz Kumalak World Champions were Asel Dalieva (women) and Galymcan Temirbayev (men). The best European player was Jurij Nold (Germany).

On July 14-18, 2012, the second World Championship was held in Pardubice, Czech Republic. There were 42 players representing seven nations: Czech Republic, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Russia, Switzerland and the USA. The current Toguz Kumalak World Champions are Asel Dalieva (women) and Khakimzhan Eleysinov (men). Best non-Asian player was Jurij Nold (Germany).

In 2011, Jurij Nold won the first European Championship in Pardubice (Czech Republic). He also became the National German Champion 2011.

In 2002, the Kyrgyz Information Center "Toktom" in Bishkek published a computer program, which can play Toguz Kumalak against a human opponent. In 2005, the game was used by the computer scientist Kirk Scott at the University of Alaska (Anchorage) to teach his students the JavaScript programming language. Toguz Kumalak can be played online at the ig Game Center since September 16, 2009, where it has become one of the most popular games. In 2011, a very strong computer program called "Toguz Kumalak 2011" was developed by Yernar Shambayev who lives in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan.

The games has also some supporters in South America and, in 2007, a Toguz Kumalak seminar was given in Santiago de Cali, Colombia.

In Central Asia, the game is promoted as a national sport. Although it was originally played only by men, today many women are masters. There are also blind players such as M. Kurmanbetov.

The current president of the National Toguz Kumalak Federation of Kazakhstan, Alikhan Mukhamedjevich Baimenov, was a professor of the Mining-Mechanical faculty in the Zhezkazgan branch of the Karaganda Polytechnic Institute of Motor Transport (1981-1992) and a candidate for President of Republic Kazakhstan from the Democratic party «Ak Zhol».

It is estimated that there are about 10,000 organized players and about 200 official trainers in Kazakhstan alone.


"Toguz kumalak is both enjoyable and educational. (...) This game is great for those who have a flair for art and perfect for children. You have to play strictly according to the rules, and at the same time you must use your imagination and intuition. Like music, this game can't become an elitist pursuit. It acquires genuine value only when it becomes common property."

Rakhimbai Karimbaev (1987)


Toguz Kumalak is played on a board, which consists of two rows of nine holes. Between these rows are two parallel furrows called kazan ("boilers") in the middle of the board to store the captures. The players own the kazan in the other half of the board. The holes are usually made in such a way that it is evident whether the contents are odd or even.

At the beginning there are nine balls in each hole, except the kazans, which are still empty. Players need a total of 162 balls.


Initial Position

On his turn, a player takes all the balls of one of his holes, which is not a tuzdik (see below) and distribute them anticlockwise, one by one, into the following holes. The first ball must be dropped into the hole, which was just emptied.

However, if the move began from a hole, which contained only one ball, this ball is put into the next hole.

If the last ball falls into a hole on the opponent's side, and this hole then contains an even number of balls, these balls are captured and stored in the player's kazan.

If the last ball falls into a hole of the opponent, which then has three balls, the hole is marked as a tuzdik ("sacred place" in Kazakh; or tuz in Kyrgyz, which means "salt").

There are a few restrictions:

  • A player may only create one tuzdik in each game.
  • The last hole of the opponent (his ninth or rightmost hole) cannot be turned into a tuzdik.
  • A tuzdik cannot be made if it is symmetrical to the opponent's one (for instance, if the opponent's third hole is a tuzdik, he cannot turn your third hole into one).

It is permitted to make such a move, but it wouldn't create a tuzdik.

The balls that fall into a tuzdik are captured by its owner. He may transfer its contents at any time to his kazan.

The game ends when a player can't move at his turn because all the holes on his side, which are not tuzdik, are empty.

When the game is over, the remaining balls, which are not yet in a kazan or in a tuzdik are won by the player on whose side they are.

The winner is the player who, at the end of the game, has captured more balls in their tuzdik and their kazan. When both players have 81 balls, the game is a draw.

Example Games

The following game was played in 2006 between Nurlan Eleusiz (Kizilorda) and Serik Aktayev (Pavlodar) in Aktau, Kazakhstan. Eleusiz was the winner of the Grand Prix of Kazakhstan in 2002 and Aktayev the Kazakh Champion of 2004. The game ended after just 17 half-moves, thus making it the shortest game on master level ever recorded in history.

N. Eleusiz (Kizilorda) - S. Aktayev (Pavlodar), Aktau (Kazakhstan), 2006:

1. 65 (10), 87


2. 55, 99 (12)
3. 34 (22), 35 (16)


4. 34!, 89
5. 91!!, 45


6. 48 (24), 92
7. 62 (38), 78?? (32)

Better would be 7. ..., 91! (30) and after 8. 91 (54), 78 (46).


8. 91 (54), 58 (forced)

Aktayev can't play 67 (50), because Eleusiz would counter with 9. 27X (57).

9. 15 (56)

Eleusiz has a strong material and positional advantage. Aktayev resigns.


The following game was constructed by Ralf Gering (Germany) who "discovered" it on November 6, 2010, when he tried to find the shortest Toguz Kumalak game, which is mathematically possible.

1. 98 (10), 22 (10)
2. 87 (22), 46 (20)
3. 76 (36), 45
4. 55 (52), 25
5. 93 (68), 91!
6. 91 (84)

Christian Mächler (Switzerland) discovered in October 2011 that there are exactly four games, which can be finished in 11 half-moves with the maximum score of 88 : 10. The abbreviated notation of these games are:

9 2 8 1 7 2 6 1 4 2 9
9 2 8 1 7 2 6 1 9 2 5
9 2 8 1 7 2 6 2 4 1 9
9 2 8 1 7 2 6 2 9 1 5

Yernar Shambayev (Kazakhstan) found in September 2011 that there are 1391 games that end after 11 half-moves.


Kazakh children play simplified versions of the game with shorter rows and less counters:

  • Kozdatu (Қоздату) has seven holes per row, each one containing seven pieces at the beginning.
  • Bestemshchi (Бестемщі) has five holes per row, each one containing five pieces (бес means five) initially. The game is played without tuzdik.
  • There was also a variant with three holes per row.

Before 1949, numerous versions existed that had other rules than the modern game:

  • Some players only captured when the last ball fell into a hole containing a singleton.
  • Others insisted that no ball must be left in the emptied hole.

In 2002, Arketay Imanbayev, Toguz Kumalak trainer of the Republic of Kazakhstan, designed a variant played by four persons on a board of 2 x 18 holes and 324 balls.

In 2010, Ralf Gering (Germany) created Toguz Poddavki.

Technical Terms

Many specific words and expressions are used to describe the game.

Kazakh Kyrgyz English Meaning
Toguz Kumalak
(Тоғыз құмалақ)
Toguz Korgool
(Тогуз Коргоол)
"nine pebbles" (Kazakh);
"nine dung balls" (Kyrgyz)
the National Game of the
Kazakhs and Kyrgyz
"cow" hole, pit
"kettle" (Kazakh);
"treasury" (Kyrgyz)
"pebble" (Kazakh);
"dung ball" (Kyrgyz)
"sacred place", "(house in the) steppe"
also: "ace" (Kazakh);
"salt" (Kyrgyz)
acquired accumulation hole
Atsis kalu
(атсыз калу)
(?) "left without a horse" said about a player who
has no seeds left to move

See also

External Links

General Web Sites




  • The traditional game board, which was used by Rachimbai Karimbayev, the first official Toguz Kumalak trainer in Kazakhstan



Aidarkulov, K.
Manas eposundagy eldy Oiundar: Ordo Zhana Toguz Korgool Oiundarynyn Tarykhyi Kelip Chyguu Maselisine Karata Ilimii-Populiarduu Makalalar. Bishkek (Soviet Union) 1977.
Aknazarov, S. & Shotayev, M.
Tañğajayaıp Toğızqumalaq. Turkistan (Kazakhstan) 2004. (2nd edition in 2011 by "Firma Glori" in Astana).
Akshorayev, A.
Toguz Kumalak: Kodeks i Klassifizirovanje Igri. Mektep, Alma-Ata (Soviet Union) 1980.
Akshurayev, A.
Molodosti Drewnej Igri Toguz Kumalak. Taraz (Kazakhstan) 2000.
Akshurayev, A. & Chunisbayev, N.
Toghiz Kumalak. Zhalin, Alma-Ata (Soviet Union) 1983.
Akshurayev, A. & Nurlybayev, M.
Toguz Kumalak. In: Nauka i Zhizn 1980; 100 (1): 27-29.
Almásy, G.
Vándor-utam Ázsia szí­vé­be. Budapest (Austro-Hungarian Empire) 1903, 719-721.
Amanzholov, S.
Toguz Kumalak. Alma-Ata (Soviet Union) 1936.
And, M.
Some Notes on Aspects and Functions of Turkish Folk Games. In: The Journal of American Folklore 1979; 21: (1): 44-64.
And, M.
Cocuk Oyunlarinin Kültürümüzde Yeri Ve Önemi. In: Ulusal Kültür: Üc Ayhk Kültür Dergisi 1979 (4).
Das kasachische Schach. In: Main Post January 3, 2011.
Europameister Juri Nold lädt zu Togus-Kumalak-Turnier ein. In: Main Post July 28, 2011.
Togyz Kumalak tournament held in Germany. In: Tengri News August 5, 2011.
Tatjana Kurz siegt im Blitzturnier. In: Main Post September 28, 2011.
Árpád, B.
Togiz Kumalak. In: Friss Újság (Satu Mare, Romania) November 5, 2004: 5.
Cerrato, L.
Toguz Kumalak. In: Il Fogliaccio degli Astratti 2007; 43 (July): 8.
Çetin, İ.
Çüç. In: Sivas Kültür-Sanat. (Sivas, Turkey) 1989; 4: 30-32 .
Çetin, İ.
Kazakistan’da Nevruz. In: Çetin, İ. (Ed.). Türk Dünyası Nevruz Ansiklopedisi. Atatürk Kültür Merkezi Başlanliği, Ankara (Turkey) 2004, 285-296.
Dauletov, A. & Eleuov, F.
Toghiz kumalak: Oyni khakkinda bakhali. In: Uztaz Zholy December 3, 2005 (Nr. 49).
Deledicq, A. & Popova, A.
Wari et Solo: Le Jeu de Calcul Africain. Cedic, Paris (France) 1977.
Eichler, U.
Spielerische Integration: Der Herr der Mulden. In: Main Post October 18, 2011.
Gausmann, M.
Mancala und Bao La Kiswahili: Ein nicht alltägliches Spielewochenende mit Molukkenbohnen und Glasmurmeln. In: General-Anzeiger 2013; 123 (37): 17.
Gering, R.
Nold und Dewaldt sahnen bei der Deutschen ab. In: Main Post August 6, 2012.
Gering, R.
Zulkanaev: "Teilnahme ist Sieg!": Großer Erfolg bei der 1. DM im Togus Kumalak in Schweinfurt. In: Olbrück Rundschau 2011 (Nr. 33): 61.
Gering, R.
162 Kugeln stehen im Mittelpunkt. In: Rhein-Zeitung 2012; 172: 20.
Gering, R.
162 Kugeln, unergründlich viele Möglichkeiten. In: Olbrück Rundschau 2012 (Nr. 30): 45.
Gering R.
Bohnenspiel und Togus Kumalak: Exotischer Denksport, raffiniert und tiefsinnig. In: Sinzig im Blickpunkt 2013; 17 (32): 9.
Glaser, S. V.
Delu - vremia, potekhe - tchas!. Monodar Guardiya, Moscow (Russia) 1962, 33-35.
Gralla, R.
Blitzrechnen und Engelsgeduld: Jurij Nold ist deutscher »Togus Kumalak«-Matador. In: Neues Deutschland February 13, 2016.
Kakashev, K. T.
Toguz Kumalak kak Uchebnaya Distsiplina v Shkolye. In: Kakashev, K. T. Puti Povisheniya Kachestva Podgotovki Spetsialistov dlya Sistemi Obrazovaniya (Materiali Altinsarinskikh Ped. Steniye). Kostanay (Kazakhstan) 2006, 454-456.
Toguz Korgool Version 3.5.. Information Center "Toktom", Bishkek (Kyrgyztan) 2002.
Karutz, R.
Unter Kirgisen und Turkmenen. Klinkhardt & Biermann, Leipzig (Germany) 1911.
New Togyz-kumalak. In: Kazakhstanskaya Pravda 02/09/2002.
Kaz OGIZ (Ed.).
Toguz kumalak. Alma-Ata (Soviet Union) 1943.
Machatscheck, H.
Zug um Zug: Die Zauberwelt der Brettspiele. Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin (Germany / GDR) 1972, 146-147.
Machatscheck, H.
Stein um Stein: Exotik der Brettspiele. Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin (Germany / GDR) 1984, 69 & 76-84.
Nold, Jurij.
Kampf um die Kugeln! In: Ost-West Panorama 2011; 10 (3): 37.
Omurzakov, D. & Musin, Y.
Kirgizkiye Narodnye Igry. Bishkek (Soviet Union) 1973, 43-47.
Orozobakov, T. & Chylymov, A.
Toguz korgool. Bishkek (Kyrgyztan), 1997.
Pantusov, N. N.
Kirgiskaya Igra Toguz Kumalak. In: Izvestia Obshchestva Arkheoligij, Istorij, i Etnografij pri Kazanskom Universitete (Kazan, Russia) 1906; 22: 249-252.
Rahimkulov, M.
Toguz Kumalak. Kaz Rosizdat, Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan) 1957.
Russ, L.
The Complete Mancala Games Book: How to Play the World's Oldest Board Games. Marlowe & Company, New York (USA) 1999, 21-22.
Scott, K.
Togiz Kumalak. University of Alaska / Computer Science, Anchorage (USA) 2005. 21-22.
Sharipov, S. A. & Seitshanov, A. M.
Laws of Toguz Kumalak Game. Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Committee of Sports Affairs, Astana (Kazakhstan) 2006.
Sharipov, S. & Shotayev, M. E.
Togyzkumalak: Igra Intellektualov. Astana (Kazakhstan) 2006.
Shotayev, M. E.
Rules of Intellectual Game: Toguz Kumalak. Turkistan (Kazakhstan) 2005.
Shotayev, M. E.
Togyzkumalak's Compositions. Astana (Kazakhstan) 2015.
Sinayuç, O.
Oğuzkent'te Zihinsel bir oyun: Piç. In: Türk Folklar Araştırmaları 1974; 29 (6).
Šorelová, M.
Jakub Cach: Juniorský mistr světa v Toguz kumalak. In: abc February 21, 2013.
Sultanbekov, T.
Toguz Kumalak: Algebra Chabanov. In: Yoniye Tekhnik 1963; 8 (8): 66-71 & Back Cover.
Totenayev, B.
Kazaktun Ulttik Oyundari / Kazakhskie natsional'nye igry. Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan) 1994.
Zelinskaya, I.
Domino, Nardi, Kosti. Moscow (Russia) 2001.



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