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I recently received a Mancala set hand-made from Africa. It has an unusual set up, and I was hoping someone knew the rules for playing on this set up.

The board is an arrangement of circle and square pits in a board. There are 4 rows and 8 columns arranged as follows (o = circle pit, x = square pit)


Has anyone seen a board like this before? Does anyone know if there are rules for playing on a board like this?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Sounds like you've got a Bao board.

enter image description here

Bao, an East African Mancala, is the only known Mancala to make use of square pits as well as round ones. These are called nyumba (house), one for each player, and marks your starting position. There are also some extra rules for the nyumba in the main variation Bao la kiswahili. The Wikipedia article I've linked to has detailed instructions for both simplified (Bao la kujifunza) and Bao la kiswahili.

You can also use the same board, and ignore the shape of the special pits, to play other four-rank Mancala variants. One example would be Omweso. Enjoy the cool board!

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That's it! My board is just like the hinged one on the wikipedia page. Thanks :) – David Oneill Feb 4 '12 at 17:51

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