How To Play Kalah

A classic game if there ever was one, Kalah is said to have been played by rulers as far back as the early days of the Egyptian empire, and it remains a fun and challenging adventure to this day. Called "the game of intelligence" by many, Kalah, or, as it is known in many parts of the world, Mancala, is a game for those of sharp wits and a strategic mind, moving beads amongst holes into your goal to win the game.

  1. First place three beads into each of the board's twelve holes, leaving the largest two empty on both sides.
  2. These two large ones will be your goals, and are called kalahs.
  3. The player then begins moving the beads from the six holes to his or her right.
  4. Move the beads counterclockwise around the board, trying to drop them into his or her kalah, but not the opponent's.
  5. If the last bead lands in the first player's kalah, take another turn. If not, it's the the opponent's turn to try and score.
  6. If one player lands in an empty hole on his or her side of the board, they then claim all of the beads on the opponent's adjacent hole to put into their kalah.
  7. The game ends when all of the beads on one player's side of the board are gone, and if any player has any remaining beads on their side, they move them to their kalah.
  8. The player with the most beads in his or her kalah by the end of the game is the winner.

In addition to the traditional way of playing, there are also numerous variations played around the world. One common way to heat up a game of Kalah is to change the number of beads in each hole at the beginning of the game, making for a more interesting and challenging game, especially if the game is played with four or six beads in each cup, sometimes taking away any starting advantage. In some variations, the rules on stealing beads from an opponent by landing in an empty hole are different, as are the rules for bringing the remaining beads to your kalah at the end of the game. Any way you slice it, though, it ends up as a fun and challenging way to spend a lazy afternoon, and offers a great opportunity to give your brain a workout.


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