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Choro
First Description: Jack
Herbert Driberg, 1927
Cycles: Two
Ranks: Four
Sowing: Multiple laps
Region: Uganda

Choro is a mancala game played by the Langi People (often referred to as Lango, which is actually the name of their language. Lango also refers to a singular person; Lango person, Langi people) in central Uganda. Their population is about 1.5 million according to the 2002 population census. The game, which was first described by Jack Herbert Driberg (1888-1946) in 1927, is related to Omweso. It is played by both, men and women, but only among the same sex.

Cheating is permitted. Driberg wrote:

"Rapidity of play is as essential as rapidity of calculation. This not only indicates mental agility but enables the player to cheat, as it is not possible to cheat when one is playing slowly. A slow player cannot palm a marble or miss a hole without being discovered. The mental attitude towards cheating is interesting. It is not reprobated, but no one likes being discovered. To be discovered carries no penalty and does not disqualify the player, for he is only called to order and has to make his move again. But to be discovered involves a loss of prestige. It is not the act of cheating, but inept cheating which is discreditable, and often one will hear of an exceptionally brilliant player that he is a most accomplished cheat, as he is never found out. A consistent winner is presumed to be an able cheat, and a player may be congratulated on his powers of cheating even when the compliment is undeserved."

Rules

Choro requires a board of 32 holes (awi "cattle kraal"), arranged in four rows, each one with eight holes. A player has control over one front row (cheng "sun") and one back row (dyewor "darkness"). In addition, 64 undifferentiated seeds (dyang (pl. dok) "cow" (pl. "cattle")) are needed.

Initial Position

Mangola0

Non-capturing moves

The first turn of either player is played simultaneously. The game must commence by sowing the contents of the rightmost holes in their back rows or the holes immediately to the left of them. After that the game is played turnwise.

When no captures are possible, a player empties one of his holes, which contains at least two seeds, and distributes its contents, one by one, counterclockwise into the ensuing holes around his two rows.

If the last seed falls into an occupied hole, its contents are lifted for another lap.

The move ends, if the last seed falls into an empty hole.

Capturing moves

It is possible to capture, if two holes of the players' inner rows facing each other are occupied.

A capture that can be initiated at the start of a move (e.g. without sowing) is mandatory.

There are two modes of capturing:

Captures initiated at the start of a move

If there are two occupied holes facing each other in the inner rows, a player must remove the contents of a menaced hole in his opponent's front row and add to them any contents of the hole in the opponent's back row of the same file. If there are several menaced holes in his opponent's front row, he may choose, which one he wants to take.

After that he sows the captures, one by one, counterclockwise into his holes starting with the first seed in the occupied hole of his front row, which effected the capture.

If the last seed falls in an empty hole, the move ends; otherwise it continues with more captures or no captures.

Captures during a move

If a lap ends in an occupied hole of the front row and the opponent's inner row hole opposite to it is also occupied, the contents of the opponenent's hole are captured, and, in addition, any contents of the hole in the opponent's back row of the same file.

The captures are sown, one by one, counterclockwise into ensuing holes starting with the first seed dropped into the occupied hole of his front row, which effected the capture.

Similar to the game of Omweso, a capture can also be effected by reversing the direction of sowing, which is permitted, if the last seed of a lap is dropped into an occupied hole of the player's turning base (aloka "turning"). The two ultimate holes of the turning base are known as wich ("head"), the two penultimate ones aspyer ("loin").

Omweso2

Reverse holes. White for South, Black for North

That is, instead of sowing in a counterclockwise direction, a player may sow clockwise from any of their four leftmost holes if this results in a capture. During a long continued move, a player may play both forward sowing and reverse capturing moves and also non-capturing moves in between, but he is never compelled to play clockwise even if an opponent's seeds would be captured.

Captures effected by clockwise sowing may be continued to be sown clockwise, if this would result in another capture; otherwise they must be sown counterclockwise. Again the sowing of captures has to start in the hole, which effected the capture. However, any captures are permitted to be sown counterclockwise, even if the capture resulted from reverse sowing and the new lap won't result in another capture.

End of the game

The game ends, when, at his turn, a player cannot move.

The game is won by the player who was able to move last.

See also

  • Choro II, a related game played by the Acholi

References

Driberg, J. H.
The Game of Choro or Pereauni. In: Man: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 1927 (114); 27: 168-172.
Driberg, J. H.
The Game of Choro or Pereauni. In: Man: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 1927 (127); 27: 186-189.
Murray, H. J. R. 
A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Oxford University Press, Oxford (England) 1951, 219-220.
Russ, L. 
The Complete Mancala Games Book: How to Play the Worlds Oldest Board Games. Marlowe & Company, New York (USA) 2000, 117-120.

Copyright

© Mancala World.
By: Ralf Gering.
Under the CC by-sa 2.5.

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