Extracted from "Mancala, The National game Of Africa" by Stewart Culin, published 1896
Since the above was written I have learned that the game of Mancala was published in the United States in 1891, under the name of Chuba, by the Milton Bradley Company, of Springfield, Mass., who furnish the following rules and account of the game:
Chuba is an adaptation from a rude game of Eastern Africa which is greatly enjoyed by the natives, who squat on the ground, and play in holes scooped out of the sand, using shells, young coconuts, etc., for counters, which they move from hole to hole.
As now presented to the civilized world for its diversion, Chuba is a game of skill for two players. It is made up of a board with 4 parallel rows or pockets, 11 in each row, and 60 small beads used as men or counters. [See fig. 14.]
The board is placed between the players as usual, with the longer sides next to them. Each one confines his playing to the two rows of pockets nearest him. The row close to his edge of the board is his outer row, while the other is his inner row.
Before beginning the game each player places a single counter in each of the pockets of his outer row and two counters in each pocket of his inner row, except that the pocket on his extreme left in the inner row is kept vacant and the one next to it holds but one man. The above diagram shows the arrangement of the board at the opening of the game. As indicated by the arrows, all moves in the inner row are from right to left, and those in the outer row from left to right. As the players face each other the moves in the two inner rows are necessarily in opposite directions.
The privilege of playing first in the first game is left to agreement or chance, not being regarded as of any consequence. In subsequent games the player who was victor in the last contest takes the lead.
The first player chooses any pocket in his inner row which contains more than one man from which to start his first move, and begins the same by picking up all the men in that pocket and dropping one of them in each of the consecutive pockets to his left until all the men in his hand have been distributed. If the last counter drops into a pocket that is occupied, the player continues the move by picking up all the men in that pocket, including the one dropped, and disposing of them as before. His move must continue in this same way until the last counter in his hand falls into an empty pocket, and the move may extend around the course, into the outer row, or even farther, as indicted by the arrows.
If this empty pocket into which the last man falls is in the inner row and has
opposite it a pocket in the opponent's inner row containing one or more men, the player captures these men and at once removes them from the board. And if there are one or more men in the corresponding opposite pocket of the opponents outer row, they must also be taken. Furthermore, he must select another pair of opposite pockets in his opponent's rows from which to remove any men that they contain. In making this choice he is at liberty to pick out any pair of opposites, whether both are occupied or empty, or one is occupied and the other empty. The accompanying diagram will explain the meaning of this rule. [See fig. 15.]
Suppose the player B had just finished a move by dropping a "last man" in No. 1. He can capture all the men in 2 and 3 by his skill and also in 4 and 5 or from any other two opposite pockets of his opponent's inner and outer rows. Had 2 been vacant, however, he could not have taken any men. Had 3 been vacant, he could have taken the men from 2 and those from 4 and 5. Had his last man fallen in the outer row, in 6 for example, the effect would have been of no avail in capturing anything, because the outer row is always noncombatant.
A man in the outer row can not be moved until he has been played upon by a man from the inner row.
A move can not begin from a pocket holding a single man if the player has a pocket containing more than one man. When a move does begin from a pocket containing a single man, it can not be played into an occupied pocket.
When all the men which a player has become single, those remaining in his outer row which have not been played on are forfeited to the opponent.
The winner is the player who captures all his opponent's men.
It is an advantage to a player to get his counters singled as soon as possible, unless he sees that his opponent is doing the same thing, when a different policy is wise.
If he wishes to cover two or three vacant spaces in order to effect a capture, it can often be done, provided he begins his move far enough back from those vacant pockets.
The loss of counters during the earlier part of the game is not necessarily as great a disadvantage as in most games, because so much depends on the final move, in which there is the chance for a brilliant display of skill.
The native players of the original Chuba say "chee" at the end of each move, which gives notice to the opponent to proceed; and toward the close of the game, when the moves follow in rapid succession, the effect is very amusing.
The natives call the counters in the inner row "man and wife," and those in the outer row "spinsters." But these spinsters are married by passing a counter over them from the inner row, till, in the progress of the game, all the pieces become single, when they are all called "widows." These widows have a double advantage over the married families, and are sure to make havoc among them. The game is appropriately named, as the word chuba means "to extinguish" or "eat up," and the object of each player is to annihilate his opponent by putting the latter's counters in a position from which escape is impossible."[/q]