|Other Names: Caille, |
Casitas, Casitas de
Mate, El Hoyito, Mate
|First Description: Víktor|
Bautista i Roca, 2005
|Sowing: Multiple laps|
|Region: Dominican Re-|
Hoyito (also known as El Hoyito, Casitas or Mate) is the generic term used in the Dominican Republic for many different mancala games. Hoyito means "little hole". The games were first described by Víktor Bautista i Roca, who together with Salvador Cases i Majoral interviewed Dominican expatriates in Catalonia (September 2004), and then conducted a field study for three weeks in the Dominican Republic (January-February 2005).
Hoyito variants are played the provinces of Barahona, Bahoruco and Independencia collectively known as "El Sur". These provinces are rather poor, and thus have a low population density and a strong emigration rate. They were observed in Neiba, Villa Jaragua, Los Ríos, Postrer Río, La Descubierta and Jimaní, but not in Barahona, the largest town in the area. Generally Hoyito is not played in the centre of bigger villages or along the main road even in smaller villages. It is more popular in the countryside, where it is played outdoor, either in the courtyard or near the river.
Hoyito was once enjoyed by everyone, though mostly by women. Today it is a children's game, rarely played by adults who often view it in a depriciatory manner. It is considered a waste of time by many adults and sometimes children are punished for playing it. A woman reported that she was scolded as a girl for playing it because she didn't do her homework, and another person said that children skipped school to play it. As a match takes a long time, players may change. Although there are no competitions, it is widely believed that girls are playing better than boys.
Some older people still think that the game invites misfortune. One woman remembered that in old days it wasn't allowed to dig holes on Good Friday, so the board was made on Holy Thursday.
The game was played with seeds of bottle gourds (Crescentia cujete) known as mate seeds, but today pebbles have replaced them. The holes are either dug into the earth or drawn on concrete. There are no wooden boards. Sometimes the game is played for a little stake such as glass beads.
Today Hoyito has lost much of its former popularity, although it could be argued that the game might be a useful tool to teach children mathematical skills.
Hoyito I is almost equal to Ba-awa, except that a four is captured by the one moving, not by the one owning the hole.
Hoyito is played by two persons on a board, which consists of two rows of six holes called casitas ("little houses"). Sizes up to 2x12 were also recorded, but are far less common.
Initially each hole contains four counters.
On his turn a player picks up the contents from one of his holes and then distributes them, one by one, into the following holes in a counterclockwise direction.
If the last stone falls in an occupied hole, its contents (including the last distributed counter) are distributed in a new lap starting in the next hole.
However, if the last stone made a casa ("house"), that is a four, the contents are captured and the turn ends.
If, at any moment, a casa is made in any hole of the board, the player who is moving captures these counters.
When the last stone is dropped into an empty hole, the turn ends.
If a player cannot move because he has no stones in his holes, he passes until he can move again.
The player who captured the last group of four but one, also gets the last four seeds and the game ends.
The winner of the game is the player who captured more stones.
Once a game is over another one can be started.
The following rules are observed:
- Each player fills as many holes on his side with four pieces from his captures as possible. The empty holes are not used in this round, but can be recovered in the next game.
- The winner of the preceding round starts.
- The player who leaves his opponent with less than four pieces at the end of a game, wins the match. (Bautista wrote "with no pieces at all", but a player with less than four can't claim a hole).
- Bautista i Roca, V.
- Africa Hidden Inside a Small Hole. Paper presented in the VIIIth Board Game Studies Colloquium. Oxford (England) April 2005.