First Description: Heinrich
von Wlislocki, 18900
Cycles: One
Ranks: Two
Sowing: Single laps
Region: Romania

Çevále (the "pit game") was first described by Heinrich von Wlislocki in his book "Vom wandernden Zigeunervolke" in 1890. It was played by the Tsigani in Transylvania at the end of the 19th century. At that time this region of South-East Europe was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but today it is in Romania.

Mancala games were also reported from Serbia (Belgrade fortress; 14th century), Bosnia ("Ban-Ban" - still popular in Sarajevo) and Greece ("Mandoli" - Hydra Island in 1810; Chios Island in 1818), Crimea (Balaklava in 1801).


The board consists os two rows; each one has six holes. There are 27 counters (stones). Before the game starts, these are distributed by the two players in any way they want.

A lot decides who gets which row and probably also who makes the first move.

On his turn a player sows the contents of one of his holes, one by one, into the following holes (probably anticlockwise). The move ends after a single-lap.

  • The players must distribute the contents of the pit, which contains most


After each player has sown once, they win the contents of any of their holes, which are even-numbered (2, 4, 6, 8 and so on). The captures are removed from the board and stored elsewhere.

Wlislocki didn't report when the game ends. There are two possibilities:

  • The game is finished, when a player is unable to make a move because his row is empty.
  • A player must move if he can, but passes when his holes are empty. The game ends, when there is only one stone left on the board.

The player who has captured most stones wins. The last stone or stones, which cannot be captured, might be appropriated by the player who owns their holes.


Wlislocki, H. von
Vom wandernden Zigeunervolke: Bilder aus dem Leben der siebenbürger Zigeuner : geschichtliches, ethnologisches, Sprache und Poesie. Verlagsanstalt und Druckerei Actien-Gesellschaft (vormals J.F. Richter), Hamburg (Germany) 1890, 139-140.

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