Mancala World

Waurie → German, Polish.

Other Names: Island Wari,
Wauri, Warie
First Description: (?)
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Grand Cayman

Waurie is a mancala game that is played on the Cayman Islands, a British colony in the Caribbean. Legend has it that the game was introduced to Grand Cayman by the pirate Black Beard (1680 ? - 1718) on one of his journeys from Africa. Reportedly it was a favourite pastime of Ernest Hemingway each time he spent his holidays on this lovely island.

Waurie is promoted by David Grogono who used to be a sailboat captain and a member of the Olympic Team for the Cayman Islands in 1996 and is now product manager for REALbasic. In 2004, he wrote a freeware programme for Linux, Macintosh and Windows, which can be downloaded from his homepage.

On April 7, 2010, a Waurie tournament was held by the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands at Harbour Place, which was won by Harry Kinch, aged 12. Second place was Gretchen Allen. Another tournament with about 25 participants was held in Tönisvorst, Germany, at the Summer Fest of the Child Day Care Center "Wiesenzauber" on June 26, 2010. It was initiated by Maria Claeßens and attracted young and old. Although the game was called "Kalaha" (the German name for Kalah), the rules were identical to those of Waurie except that five seeds were in each hole at the beginning.

The most beautiful wooden boards made of mahogany are carved by an artist nicknamed Caribbean Charlie. Traditionally gray or yellow nickernuts (Caesalpinia bonduc and C. major) are used for playing the game.

The rules described on the web are very similar to Kalah, although the name has without doubt a West African origin. According to the Bradt Travel Guide Waurie is a game "where two players compete to win each other's pieces" (perhaps like Antigua's Warri), while the implemented game is about getting rid of your own counters. It seems that a traditional and a modern ruleset exist side by side on Grand Cayman under the same name - the first one introduced by African slaves, the second by American tourists.

Another minor variant besides the one played in Tönisvorst is the "beginner's version" of Kid-Cala, with the only difference that seeds are sown into both stores.


The game is played on a board of 2x6=12 pits and two stores called endpits. Initially there are four seeds in each pit. You'll need a total of 48 seeds.


Initial Position

Play is counter-clockwise and single-lap. Stones are distributed as usual, one by one, into the following pits and (as in some Indonesian, Malaysian and Filipino games) into your own endpit, but not into your opponent's endpit. The symbolic meaning is that you're taxed when you enter your opponent's territory, but not when you return to your own land.

If the last seed falls into your own endpit, you have a bonus move (similar to Kalah or Dakon).

If there are enough seeds to complete a full round, a seed is dropped into the emptied pit (unlike Oware).

It's not permitted to pass a turn.

There is no capturing except the taxing described above.

As soon as a player has no seeds in his row, he wins the game even if it now was the other player's turn and his opponent could "feed" him (give him seeds). At the end of the game the loser is the only player who has still seeds in his pits.

Strategic Hints

It is often decisive to feed the opponent at the end of the game. The last player able to do that will usually win.

Endgame Problem


South to move and win! (Ralf Gering, 2008)


Armstrong, W. P.
A Game Called Island Wari: A Board Game From The Caribbean Islands. In: Wayne's Word 1997 (3); 6.
Grogono, M.
Helpfile for Waurie. Booton NJ (USA) Grogware 2004.
Hayne, T.
Cayman Islands: The Bradt Travel Guide. Chalfont St. Peter (UK) 2001.

External Links


5! a/3/1! b/4/2 c/5/6!/6-1/3/2/4/3/5/4/6 South wins. (15 moves)

But not:

(a) 6?-1/3/2/4/3/5/4/6 North is faster.
(b) 6?/1!/1/2/2/3/3/4/4/6-5/5/6 North wins.


  1. The first three moves of South can be: (5, 1, 2), (1, 5, 2) or (1, 2, 5).
  2. North should be fed, only if his seed reaches the 6th pit, neither before nor after. Otherwise South would lose. Good timing is very important.


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