Mancala World
First Description: Vernon
A. Eagle, 1995
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Pussa Kanawa
Region: China (Yunnan)

Yucebao is played by Bai people in Lijiang Prefecture, Yunnan. The two informants (both male) interviewed by Vernon Eagle in May 1992 lived in Shouxin village, Jinshan Township. The game appears to be closely related to Laomuzhu as played by Han Chinese in Mengmao village, Baoshan Prefecture.

The Bai are the second largest ethnic minority group in Yunnan. They speak a language related to the Yi branch of the Tibetan-Myanmese roup of the Chinese-Tibetan language family. Their total population numbered about 1.9 million people as of 2000.


The board has five smaller holes per row and, in addition, a larger hole at each end. Each player owns the smaller holes on his side of the board and the larger hole to his right.

The smaller holes contain five small stones, "piglets" (deizqi), at the outset. Each endhole contains one large stone, the "sow" (deiqmo).

In fact, the game doesn't have fixed stores, but a hole containing a "sow" functions as a "sink" as Eagle calls it.


Initial Position

General Gameplay[]

On his turn a player picks up the contents of anyone of his holes (including his endhole) and distributes the stones, one by one, in either direction on the following holes including both stores. The direction cannot be changed during the turn.

When the last stown is sown, the contents of the next hole are distributed in another lap.

The turn ends when the last stone falls into a hole, which is followed by an empty one.

If the hole following the empty one is occupied after the sowing has ended, its contents are captured.

If the hole of which the contents were captured is followed first by an empty one and then by an occupied hole, its contents are also captured. This continues until the last hole is either followed by two empty holes or a non-empty hole.

The "sows" are sown and captured just like the "piglets". If a hole contained both large and small stones, they can be sown in any order.

"Sows" can only be singletons and never be together with "piglets" in a hole, because any "piglet", which is sown into a hole containing a "sow" is immediately captured by the player who owns its hole and any "piglet" that is in a hole into which a "sow" is sown is also captured again by the player whon owns the hole. It is not vlear what results when a "sow" is dropped into a hole, which contains the other "sow". Probably the "sow" is captured by the hole's owner too, but, according to Eagle, it could be even both "sows".

The captured stones are removed from the board and set aside until the game is finished.

Whenever a player has nothing left in his holes he may put a single stone from his own captures into each of his empty holes and then continue to play.

The round ends when a player has no legal move left. The remaining pieces are captured by his adversary.

The player who got more points wins: a "piglet" counts one point, a "sow" is worth five.


After the round has ended, a player who has no "sow" must buy one from his opponent for five "piglets". After that players fill their holes starting in their rightmost hole continuing clockwise and eventually the player who got more "piglets" even conquers holes of his adversary. A partially filled hole is completed by borrowing up to four "piglets" from the opponent. Eagle stated that "some details of this process remain to be checked".


Eagle wrote that it is permissible to place the "sow" in any regular hole at the outset of the game. It appears that five "piglets" are then placed in the store.

External Links[]


Eagle, V. A.
On Some Newly Described Mancala Games from Yunnan Province, China, and the Definition of a Genus in the Family of Mancala Games. In: Voogt, A. J. de (Ed.). New Approaches to Board Games Research: Asian Origins and Perspectives. Working Paper Series 3. IIAS, Leiden (Netherlands) 1995, 48-61.


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