Mancala World

Vai Lung Thlan → German, Polish.

Vai Lung Thlan
First Description: J.,
Shakespear, 1912
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Bangladesh,
India (Mizoram), Myan-

Vai Lung Thlan (lung "stone"; thlan "grave"; vai may mean "foreign" or be short for vai phei, the name of an old Kuki clan) was first described in 1912 by Lt.-Colonel J. Shakespear. This mancala game is played by both sexes of the Mizo (the modern name for the Lushai people) who live in the Indian State of Mizoram and in bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The game can be played online at igGameCenter since November 25, 2011.


The board consists of two rows of six holes. Each hole contains five little stones at the start of the game.


Initial Position

On his turn, a player lifts up all the stones of one of his holes and distributes them clockwise, one by one, into the consecutive holes, first along his row and then back along that of his opponent.

If the last stone is dropped into an empty hole on either side of the board, the player captures it as well as all stones which precede this hole (that is, against the direction of movement or anti-clockwise) by an unbroken chain of single stones. Captured stones are removed and placed aside by the player.

No matter whether it was captured or not, the move is over after one lap.

The players move alternately and passing is prohibited, unless a player has no legal move.

The game is finished when no stones are left on the board. The player who has captured more stones wins. If each player has captured 30 stones, the game is a draw.

Suggestions for Good Play

The game starts slow, but accelerates as stones are captured or accumulated in a few holes and the board is cleared. The middle game should be a clever exchange of stones.

A hole containing 12 stones can always capture at least one stone because the last stone is dropped into the emptied hole. On the other hand, it is impossible for holes which contain more than 12 stones to capture. These holes can be used for defence because by distributing their contents all empty holes of the board are filled. At the end of the game players try to deprive their opponent of legal moves while keeping as many stones as possible on their own side in such a way that only single stones are created when they are distributed. Therefore, overloaded holes become "bad shape".

Endgame Problem


South to move and draw! What is the best response for North? North is leading by four stones.


The holes are numbered from 1-6 in each row, starting with the rightmost hole.


An interesting variant is to finish the game as soon as a player is unable to move. The remaining counters are appropriated by the player who owns their holes (i.e. the player who moved last). It might even be possible that these are actually the correct rules.


Counting the stones in the hole before removing them is not allowed, and considerable skill is required to judge accurately the number of stones, so as to select a hole containing the number of stones which when distributed will leave the maximum number of holes with single stones in them.
J. Shakespear


Gering, R. 
Vai Lung Thlan: A Game of Considerable Skill. In: Abstract Games Magazine 2002; 3 (12): 15, 29.
Russ L. 
The Complete Mancala Games Book: How to Play the World's Oldest Board Games. Marlowe & Company, New York 2000.
Shakespear, J. 
The Lushei Kuki Clans. Macmillan and Co., London (England) 1912, 39.

Solution to the Endgame Problem

4 (if 5, 2 wins for North) / 2 (if 1, 5 and South wins) / then either 5/1/6 or 6/1/5 results in a draw.


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