|Other Names: 9Kumalak (English |
abbrev.), 9құмалақ (Kazakh abbrev.),
Тоғызқұмалақ (Kazakh), тогуз
кумалак (Russian), Togus Kumalak
(German), Тогуз Коргоол (Kyrgyz),
Toguz Khorgool (English), Toguz
|First Description: Nikolai Nikolaevich|
|Sowing: Single laps|
|Region: Afghanistan (Badakhshan),|
China (Dzungaria), Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia (Bajan Ölgij),
Russia (Altay, Khakassia, Sakha,
Tartaria, Tuva), Turkmenistan,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many specific words and expressions are used to describe the game.
|"nine pebbles" (Kazakh);
"nine dung balls" (Kyrgyz)
|the National Game of the |
Kazakhs and Kyrgyz
"dung ball" (Kyrgyz)
|"sacred place", "(house in the) steppe"
also: "ace" (Kazakh);
|acquired accumulation hole|
|(?)||"left without a horse"||said about a player who|
has no seeds left to move
General Web Sites
- Official Web site of the Kazakh Toguz Kumalak Federation (in Kazakh)
- Toguz Universe
- Toguz Korgool (Polish)
- Kazakh blog
- Russian blog
- Turkish blog
- Yernar Shambayev's personal Toguz Kumalak blog
- Toguz Kumalak web site of Maksat Shotayev (Toguz Kumalak trainer)
- Toguz Kumalak web site by Yernar Shambayev (developer of the computer program "Toguz Kumalak 2011")
- Toguz Kumalak at the igGameCenter
- Toguz Kumalak as a sport (video)
- Web site of Alikhan M. Baimenov, President of the Kazakh Toguz Kumalak Federation
- Photo of International Grandmaster Serik Aktayev (left) and Maksat Shotayev (right)
- Photos from the First Toguz Kumalak World Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan (2010)
- Photo of a another major tournament in Kazakhstan
- Student's tournament, Shymkent in Kazakhstan (2012)
- Video of the Toguz Kumalak tournament in Pardubitz, 2010
- Video of a Toguz Kumalak and Oware tournament in Pardubitz, 2008
- The traditional game board, which was used by Rachimbai Karimbayev, the first official Toguz Kumalak trainer in Kazakhstan
- Report on Toguz Kumalak on Kazakh TV (TV 24kz)
- Another report (also TV 24kz)
- Another report (also TV 24kz)
- Another report (NTKKazakhstan)
- A short report (Rika TV)
- Aidarkulov, K.
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- 162 Kugeln stehen im Mittelpunkt. In: Rhein-Zeitung 2012; 172: 20.
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