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Encyclopedia > Oware
Oware
Ranks Two
Sowing Single lap
Region West Africa, the West Indies and Surinam
Oware game from Cameroon. On this board players would sit left and right.
Oware game from Cameroon. On this board players would sit left and right.

Oware is an abstract strategy game and is the variant of mancala most widely considered suitable for serious adult competition. Oware is the national game of Ghana, and the particular name "Ɔware" is that given by the Akan speaking people there. It is played throughout West Africa and the Caribbean. Among its many names are Ayo (Yoruba), Awalé (Côte d'Ivoire), Wari (Mali), Ouri, Ouril or Uril (Cape Verde), Warri (Caribbean), Adji (Ewe), and Awélé (Ga). A common name in English is Awari but one of the earliest Western scholars to study the game, R.S. Rattray, used the name Wari.  Western Africa (UN subregion)  Maghreb[1] West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. ... The Caribbean or the West Indies is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. ... The Republic of Suriname, more commonly known as Suriname or Surinam, (formerly known as Netherlands Guiana and Dutch Guiana) is a country in northern South America, in between French Guiana to the east and Guyana to the west. ... Image File history File links Owari-front. ... Image File history File links Owari-front. ... An abstract strategy game is a board game with perfect information, no chance, and (usually) two players. ... A foldable, wooden Mancala board Mancala (Arabic: , manqalä) is a family of board games played around the world, sometimes called sowing games or count and capture games, which comes from the general gameplay. ... The Akan language belongs to the Kwa language family. ...  Western Africa (UN subregion)  Maghreb[1] West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. ... West Indies redirects here. ... Yoruba (native name èdè Yorùbá, the Yoruba language) is a dialect continuum of West Africa with over 22 million speakers. ... Ewe (native name , the language) is a Kwa language spoken in Ghana and Togo by approximately three million people. ... The Ga language is a Kwa language spoken in Ghana, in and around the capital Accra. ...

Contents

Rules

Following are the rules for the abapa variation, considered to be the most appropriate for serious, adult play.


Equipment

A foldable wooden board set up for play
A foldable wooden board set up for play

The game requires an Oware board and 48 seeds. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x337, 58 KB)A wooden Mancala board This picture/image was taken/created by me. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x337, 58 KB)A wooden Mancala board This picture/image was taken/created by me. ...


A typical Oware board has two straight rows of six pits, called "houses", and optionally one large house at either end. Each player controls the six houses on their side of the board, and the score house on their right. Boards may be elaborately carved or simple and functional; they may include a pedestal, or be hinged to fold lengthwise or crosswise and latch for portability and storage with the seeds inside. While most commonly located at either end, scoring houses may be placed elsewhere, and the rows need not be straight. When a board has a hinged cover like a diptych, the scoring houses may be carved into the two halves of the cover, and so be in front of the players during play. The ground may also be used as a board; players simply scoop two rows of pits out of the earth. Ivory consular diptych of Areobindus, Byzantium, 506 AD, Louvre museum A diptych is any object with two flat plates attached at a hinge. ...


In the Caribbean, the seeds are typically nickernuts, which are smooth and shiny. Beads and pebbles are also sometimes used. In the West, some cheaper sets use oval shaped marbles. Some tourist sets use cowrie shells. West Indies redirects here. ... Genera Nickernuts are smooth, shiny seeds that are used to play mancala games such as oware in the Caribbean. ... Hand-made marbles from West Africa Different glass marbles from a glass-mill For other uses, see Marbles (disambiguation). ...


Object

The object of the game is to capture more seeds than one's opponent. Since the game has only 48 seeds, capturing 25 is sufficient to accomplish this. Since there are an even number of seeds, it is possible for the game to end in a draw, where each player has captured 24.


Sowing

Example turn:

2 2 1 2 3 1
3 1 4 Empty 6 (highlighted) 2
A B C D E F

The lower player prepares to sow from E. Mancala hole (2) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (2) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (1) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (2) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (3) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (1) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (3) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (1) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (4) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Empty mancala hole These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala highlight (6) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (2) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ...

f e d c b a
2 3 (highlighted) 2 (highlighted) 3 (highlighted) 4 2 (highlighted)
3 1 4 Empty Empty 3

After sowing, c, d, and e are captured but not a. Mancala hole (2) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala highlight (3) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala highlight (2) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala highlight (3) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (4) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala highlight (2) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (3) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (1) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (4) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Empty mancala hole These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Empty mancala hole These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ... Mancala hole (3) These Mancala images and diagrams are copyright (c) 2004 Kevin Saff. ...

Players take turns moving the seeds. On a turn, a player chooses one of the six houses under his or her control. The player removes all seeds from that house, and distributes them, dropping one in each house counter-clockwise from this house, in a process called sowing. Seeds are not distributed into the end scoring houses, nor into the house drawn from. That is, the starting house is left empty; if it contained 12 seeds, it is skipped, and the twelfth seed is placed in the next house. The diagram shows the result of sowing from house E.


Knowing the number of seeds in each house is, of course, important to gameplay. When there are many seeds in a house, sometimes enough to make a full lap of the board or more, they cannot easily be counted by eye, and their number is often guarded by the player who controls that house. This may be done by repeatedly moving the seeds in the house. A player may count the seeds when contemplating a move; in such cases the last few are usually counted in the hand to avoid revealing their number.


Capturing

After a turn, if the last seed was placed into an opponent's house that brought its total to two or three, all the seeds in that house are captured and placed in the player's scoring house (or set aside if the board has no scoring houses). If the previous-to-last seed also brought an opponent's house to two or three, these are captured as well, and so on. However, if a move would capture all an opponent's seeds, the capture is forfeited, and the seeds are instead left on the board, since this would prevent the opponent from continuing the game. In the above diagram, the lower player would capture all the seeds in houses c, d, and e but not a, since it is not contiguous to the other captured houses.


Let the opponent play

The proscription against capturing all an opponent's seeds is related to a more general idea, that one ought to make a move that allows the opponent to continue playing. If an opponent's houses are all empty, the current player must make a move that gives the opponent seeds. If no such move is possible, the current player captures all seeds in his/her own territory, ending the game.


Winning

The game is over when one player has captured 25 or more seeds, or each player has taken 24 seeds (draw). If both players agree that the game has been reduced to an endless cycle, each player captures the seeds on their side of the board.


Variations

"Grand Slam" Variations

The move before leaving your opponent with no seeds is called the Grand Slam. It is usually the last move, and there are variations to the (necessarily) special rule that applies. The rule may be one of the following:

  1. Grand Slam captures are not legal moves.
  2. Such a move is legal, but no capture results. International competitions often follow this rule.
  3. Grand Slam captures are allowed, however, all remaining stones on the board are awarded to the opponent.
  4. Such a move is legal, but the last (or first) house is not captured.

Various other rules also exist.


History and Society

A Time magazine article from June 14, 1963 demonstrates the age of mancala thus: (Clockwise from upper left) Time magazine covers from May 7, 1945; July 25, 1969; December 31, 1999; September 14, 2001; and April 21, 2003. ... is the 165th day of the year (166th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see 1963 (disambiguation). ...

"Carved on a vast block of rock in the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo are two facing ranks of six shallow pits with larger hollows scooped out at each end. The same design is carved on columns of the temple at Karnak in Egypt, and it appears in the early tomb paintings in the valley of the Nile. It is carved in the Theseum in Athens, and in rock ledges along caravan routes of the ancient world. Today the same pits and hollows are to be found all over Asia and Africa, scratched in the bare earth, carved in rare woods or ivory inlaid with gold."

Although not all of these examples are still credited today, the mancala family of games has existed for at least 1000 years. Oware is perhaps the most widespread game in that family. Location of the governorate of Aleppo within Syria Aleppo (Arabic: [ḥalab], ) is a city in northern Syria, capital of the Aleppo Governorate. ... This article is about the Karnak temple complex in Egypt. ... For other uses, see Nile (disambiguation). ... The Temple of Hephaestus, Athens: eastern face. ... This article is about the capital of Greece. ... For other uses, see Asia (disambiguation). ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ...


Reflecting traditional African values, players of Oware encourage participation by onlookers, making it perhaps the most social two-player abstract. Games may provide a focus for entertainment and meeting others. The game, or variations of it, also had an important role in teaching arithmetic to African children. Arithmetic tables for children, Lausanne, 1835 Arithmetic or arithmetics (from the Greek word αριθμός = number) is the oldest and most elementary branch of mathematics, used by almost everyone, for tasks ranging from simple day-to-day counting to advanced science and business calculations. ...


In May 2002, two scientists from the Free University in Amsterdam, Netherlands reported that they had used computers to solve the game of "Awari" using a brute force approach. Over 889 billion positions were considered, with their solution demonstrating that perfect play leads to a draw. However, some oware players have noted that this experiment was not done using the abape ruleset used in international competition, but rather with the Grand Slam variation. Also see: 2002 (number). ... The Vrije Universiteit is a university in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ... A two-player game can be solved on several levels. ... In computer science, a brute-force search consists of systematically enumerating every possible solution of a problem until a solution is found, or all possible solutions have been exhausted. ... In game theory, perfect play is the behavior or strategy of a player which leads to the best possible outcome for that player, and if there are multiple options with the same outcome perfect play is usually considered the fastest method for getting a good result, or the slowest time...


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Image File history File links Commons-logo. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
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