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OWARE

by Jordi Climent Tondo

Oware (a.k.a. awale or wari) is a very ancient board game that comes from Africa. It belongs to the big group of mancala games. In all these games the player must transfer pieces from one bin to another of the board during each turn. The rules of Oware game are simple and the game is really easy-to-learn. The origin of the game gets lost in the night of the times. 

Oware is also known with many names as for example: ayo, awale, awalete, awele, wari, woli,... Oware is played in western african countries as Senegal, Gambia, Cape Verde, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon. Also in the West Indies and in the Americas as for example: Surinam, Guyana, Grenada, Barbados, Sta. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Antigua and St Kitts, Dominican Rep., Brazil and Ecuador, as a result of the slave trade that came from this part of Africa. The goal of the game is to capture more seeds than the opponent. The winner is the player who has caught more seeds at the end of the game.


Jordi Climent in Nigeria - Research work July 2009 - Photo: Vicenta Canal

 

Summary rules:

board: 2×6, two rows of six holes.
pieces: 48 (24 per player).
initial arrangement: 4 seeds in each hole.
direction: anti-clockwise.
seeding: simple laps. The seeds are placed one by one in the ensuing holes. If the number of seeds taken in the starting hole is greater than 11, it constitutes a complete lap: the starting hole is left empty in the distibution in this turn.
harvesting: capturing is only allowed in the opponent's side. The player captures if the last seed of a lap falls into one of the opponent's holes containing already one or two seeds, so the player captures the two or three seeds. If a player captures two or three seeds and the preceding hole also contains two or three seeds, they are captured to, and so on. The captured seeds are removed of the board. A player is not allowed to "starve" the opponent. A player can't play a hole that leads to capturing all the seeds in the opponent's side. A player can be left with no seeds at all only if it is impossible to play feeding the opponent player. Then the game ends.
aim of the game: to capture more seeds than the opponent player. At the end of the game, the player who has captured the most seeds win.
the game ends…: if a player has not any seeds in the own side and therefore can not play. In this case, the other player captures all the remaining seeds. The game also ends if the game is "looping", i.e. after some turns the same playboard configuration is obtained again and again.

"Awalé i altres jocs mancala"(2005-2019) és obra de Jordi Climent Tondo © Prohibida la reproducció total o parcial dels continguts sense l'autorització de l'autor. 
"Awalé i altres jocs mancala"(2005-2019) by Jordi Climent Tondo © Forbidden the total or partial reproduction of content without permission of author. 
"Awalé i altres jocs mancala"(2005-2019) es obra de Jordi Climent Tondo © Prohibida la reproducción total o parcial de los contenidos sin autorización del autor.