South East Asian Mancala: Congkak / Sungka

The South East Asian games of Mancala, often called Jogklak in Indonesia, Congkak in Malaysia and Brunei, or Sungka in the Philippines are variations of the same game but with widely differing rules and number of holes. There are also variations of the same game to be found throughout India, Sri Lanka and parts of Africa.The game is thought to date back to the 4th Century A.D in Roman Egypt and made its way via the trading routes to Asia.

The game is played by two players on a carved elongated board with two
rows of normally seven circular holes and two large holes at both ends called the player’s “store” or “home”. (However variants can range from 3 to 9 holes.)

The game begins with seven game pieces (shells, marbles, pebbles or seeds) in each hole except “homes” which remain empty. Each player controls the seven holes on his side of the board and owns the “home” to his left. The goal is to accumulate as many pieces in your own “home”.

On a turn, a player removes all pieces from any one of the seven holes on his side of his choosing. He then distributes one seed in each hole to the left of this hole in a clockwise direction – a process called sowing. Sowing skips an opponent’s “home” but not a player’s own “home”.

If the last piece falls into an occupied hole then all the pieces are removed from that hole, and are sown in the same way (clockwise from that hole) in another round. This player’s (current) turn ends when the last piece falls into an empty hole on the opponent’s side.
• If the last piece sown falls into a player’s own “home” then the player earns another turn, which can begin at any of the seven holes on his side.
• If the last piece sown falls into an empty hole on his side then the player captures all the pieces in the hole directly across from this one, on the opponent’s side and put them (plus the last piece sown) in his
own “home”. If the opposing hole is empty, no pieces are captured.

The other player chooses which hole he wishes to start from, removes the pieces and sows them – one in each hole, clockwise from that chosen hole. If a player has no pieces on his side of the board when it is his turn, then he must pass. The game ends when no pieces are left in any hole on both sides of the board. The players now count the number of pieces in their own “home” and see who has won.

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