Mancala World

Tsoro → German.

Other Names: Fuva,
First Description: J. B.
Matthews, 1964
Cycles: Two
Ranks: Four
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Zimbabwe

Tsoro is a generic term for board games of the Shona in northeast Zimbabwe, among them Draughts, Morris ("Tsoro Yemutwelve"), and mancala games. The following mancala game is also known as Fuva or Imbwe. The rules are from J. B. Matthews who described it in 1964.

The holes are dug into the ground and pebbles or bottle lids are used as counters. Sometimes the board is drawn on paper.


Tsoro is played on a board, which has four rows each with 21 holes (magomba). Every player controls the two rows on his side of the board. The two rightmost holes of the outer rows (marked in the diagram below) are called "heads" (musoro; plural: misoro).

At the start of the game the outer holes contain two stones (matombo), while the holes of the inner rows are empty.


Initial Position

On his turn a player sows the contents of one of his holes which contains at least two counters counterclockwise, one at a time, into ensuing holes of his two rows.

If the last stone falls into a non-empty hole other than a head, its contents are distributed in another lap. If the hole is an occupied head, the player can either distribute its contents or end the move.

When a player has only singletons left, he may sow them, but only if the next hole is empty.

A move ends when the last stone falls into an empty hole or a head.

If the last stone falls into an empty hole of the inner row and the opposite hole of his opponent contains stones, these are captured. In addition, any stones in the outer hole of the same file are also taken. The player is then entitled to capture the contents of any two other enemy holes (bonus capture).

The captured stones are removed from the board.

The game ends when a player can no longer move.

The player who has still stones at the end of the game is declared the winner. Draws are not possible.


Tsoro is known for its many variants:

  • Players are only entitled to capture the contents of one hole in addition.
  • Players are entitled to capture the contents of three hole as a bonus.
  • Only the rightmost hole is considered a head. If so, it will contain three counters at the start of the game.
  • Other frequently used board sizes are 4x6, 4x8, 4x12, 4x15 and 4x18.


Matthews, J.B.
Notes on Some African Games. In: NADA, the Rhodesian Ministry of Internal Affairs Annual 1964; 9 (1), 64-66.
Russ, L.
The Complete Mancala Games Book: How to Play the World's Oldest Board Games. Marlowe & Company, New York (USA) 2000, 99-100.


Adapted from the Wikinfo article, "Tsoro", used under the GNU Free Documentation License.