Gabata

Gabata is a three-row single lap version of the Mancala board game that is played in northern Ethiopia and Sudan. It is usually played on a wooden board with holes carved on it.

Gabata board
Figure 1: Gabata board

Rules

Gabata is played by two players on a board of three rows of six holes. Each player starts the game with 18 stones arranged with three stones in each hole as shown in Figure 1. Each player follows the path shown in Figure 1: from left to right along the player's back row, then from right to left along the three right-most holes of the middle row, then from right to left along the opponent's back row, and finally from left to right along the three left-most holes of the middle row.

The game starts when both players simultaneously lift all the stones from one of their holes and then sow one stone into each hole along the path. When the last stone is placed into a hole, the contents of that hole are picked up and the sowing is repeated. This continues until one player sows a stone into an empty hole.

In the next phase of the game the players take turns starting with the player who sowed the last stone into an empty hole. The player lifts all the stones from one of his holes and then sows one stone into each hole along the path. When the last stone is placed into a hole, the contents of that hole are picked up and the sowing is repeated. This continues until one player sows a stone into an empty hole.

If the last stone is sowed into one of his opponent's empty holes the player's turn is over and his opponent plays.

If the last stone is sowed into one of the player's own holes, the player then captures all the opponent's stones in the same column of holes and continues to sow using the single stone from the last hole. Captured stones are removed from the board and placed in the player's store.

If the last stone is sowed into one of the player's own holes and there are no stones to capture the turn is over and his opponent plays.

Play continues until one player has no stones in his holes when it his turn to play and his opponent captures the remaining stones on the board. The winner is the player who captures the most stones.

The players may also decide to continue the game with one or more rounds. This is done as follows: the player with the fewer stones takes them from his own store and places them with at most three per hole into his own holes starting at the left-most hole in the back row. The player with more stones takes the same number of stones from his own store and places them with a most three per hole into his own holes starting at the left-most hole in the back row; the balance of his stones remain in his store. Play resumes in turns starting with the player with the most stones.