| Kalaha, mankala, mancala, |
mop-up, bantumi, conference,
| © 1940,|
William Julius Champion Jr
| Commercialized by|
Kalah Game Company
|Intended for children|
|Used in maths research|
|Variant of sungka|
|Stores are sown into|
|6 holes per row|
Kalah was invented by William Julius Champion Jr, a graduate of Yale University, in 1940.
In 1905, he came across an article about a Mancala game and it appears that he read many more ethnological works on African and Asian Mancala games in later years. W. J. Champion started to sell his game in 1944, patented it in 1952 (design) and 1955 (rules) and then founded in 1958 the Kalah Game Company in Holbrook, Massachusetts (USA). Kalah was produced by them well into the 1970s and the name of the game was a registered trademark from 1970-2002. Champion promoted the game in local schools for educational purposes and, in 1963, there was even a Kalah championship organized at the Coolidge School in Holbrook which was won by Ira Burnim.
In 1960, a first computerized version was developped at the M.I.T. by Wiley and many others followed. In Germany, Paul Erich Frielinghaus, today a well-known German actor, but at this time still a High School student, developped in 1978 a Kalah program (he called the game serata), which won the first prize in the German Research Competition Jugend forscht (i.e. "youth is doing research"). The game was strongly solved (according to Allis definition) for small instances using full-game databases and weakly for larger instances by Jeroen Donkers et al. in 2001. If played perfectly, it is usually (it depends on the numbers of seeds in each hole and the number of holes per row) a first players win.
The Swedish Björn Myrvold has written in 2002 a strong Kalah applet.
Although the game was patented, it had been copycated many times: Conference (Mieg's, 1965), sahara (Pelikan, 1976) and bantumi (Nokia, 2000). Kalah is used by the Kellog Electronic Research Academy in Chicago to help students who are suffering under dyscalculia.
Kalah is very popular in the United States, where it is often just called mancala. In Germany, it is known as Kalaha. Every year there are more than 50 tournaments in the USA, mostly for children.
The game has no African origins despite many claims to the contrary, even by his inventor, because there is no such game in the whole of Africa. However, Kalah resembles suspiciously games played by the Malay people and could be described as single-lap Dakon (Dakon is a Javanese Mancala variant). Kalah means in Timorese "to defeat". All modern Mancala variants which were commercialized in western countries before 1960 are minor modifications of traditional games. Although they often claim to be ancient, it can be shown that they are, in fact, of rather recent origin. Kalah is for sure not a Sumerian invention, 7,000 years old, as stated by W. J. Champion.
The version called Conference, published in Germany, was inspired by the boards that are kept in Castle Weikersheim.
Kalah is played on a board of two rows, each consisting of six round pits that have a large store at either end called kalah. A player owns the six pits closest to him and the Kalah on his right side. Beginners may start with three seeds in each pit, but the game becomes more and more challenging by starting with 4, 5 or up to 6 pieces in each pit. Today, four seeds per hole has become the most common variant.
|Most Challenging Set-up|
Play is counterclockwise. The seeds are distributed one by one in the pits and the players own kalah, but not into the opponents store.
If the last seed is dropped into an opponents pit or a non-empty pit of the player, the move ends without anything being captured.
If the last seed falls into the players kalah, he must move again.
If the last seed is put into an empty pit owned by the player, he captures all contents of the opposite pit together with the capturing piece and puts them in his kalah. If the opposite pit is empty, nothing is captured. A capture ends the move.
The game ends when a player has no legal move and the remaining pieces are captured by the other player. The player who has captured most pieces is declared the winner.
- (1963) 'Kalah: Pit & Pebbles', in Time Magazine; June 14. Page 67.
- (1963) 'Kalah recognized as valuable educational Aid - 350 Students participate in Tournament: Kalah sweeps Coolidge School', in Melrose Free Press; December 19.
- (2001) 'Kalah: A commercial Count and Capture Game.', London (Ontario): Museum of Waterloo; July 30.
- Bell, A. G.
- (1968) 'Kalah on Atlas', in Mitchie, D. (Hg.): Machine Intelligence 3, Edinburgh: University Press. Pages 181-193.
- Brill, R. L.
- (1974) 'A Project for the Low-Budget Mathematics Laboratory: The Game of Kalah', in Arithmetic Teacher; 21 February. Pages 659-661.
- Champion, W. J.
- (1952) Game Board (US D165,634), Washington: United States Patent Office; January 8.
- Champion, W. J.
- (1955) Game Counter (US 2,720,362), Washington: United States Patent Office; October 11.
- Champion, W. J.
- (1970) New or old (Letter), Holbrook: Kalah Game Company.
- Ching, W. E.
- (2001) Analysis of Kalah, Singapure: Department of Mathematics, National University of Singapore 2000/2001. [Pdf document]
- De La Cruz, R. E., Cage, C. E. & Lian, M.-G. J.
- (2000) 'Let's play Mancala and Sungka: Learning Math and social Skills through ancient multicultural Games', in Teaching Exceptional Children; 32 (3). Pages 38-42.
- Donkers, J., Uiterwijk, J. & Irving, G.
- (2000) 'Solving Kalah', in ICGA Journal; 23 (3). Pages 139-147.
- Lehmann, E. Hicke, K. & Juhre, V.
- (2000) Projekt Kalaha: Gesamtdokumentation. [Web site]
- Neumeister, M.
- (1998) Fallbasiertes Lernen von Bewertungsfunktionen (Diplomarbeit) , Leipzip: Universität Leipzig; 9 November. [Web site]
- Oon, W.-C. & Lim, Y.-J.
- (2003) 'An Investigation on Piece Differential Information in Co-Evolution on Games Using Kalah', in: Proceedings of Congress on Evolutionary Computation; 3. Pages 1632-1638.
- Pok Ai Ling, I.
- (2001) The Game of Kalah, Singapore: Department of Mathematics, National University of Singapore 2000/2001. [Pdf document]
- Reutter, H.
- (2004) 'African Game teaches Math Strategies to Students', in Grand Island Independent; January 31.
- Russel, R.
- (1964) 'Kalah: The Game and the Program', in Stanford Artificial Intelligence Project, Memo, Stanford: University of Stanford (Nr. 22).
- Simister, J. L.
- (2004) Learning an Evaluation Function using a connectionist Network: A Project in Machine Learning based on the Game of Kalah, Salt Lake City: University of Utah.
- Slagle, J. R. & Dixon, J. K.
- (1970) 'Experiments with the M & N Tree-Searching Program', in Communications of the ACM; 13 (3). Pages 147-154.
- Troyka, W. D.
- (2001) 'Game: Kalah.', in Zillions of Games, Boulder Creek: Zillions Development Corp. [Web site]
- Zaslavsky, C.
- (1974) Africa counts: Number and Pattern in African Culture, Boston: Prindle, Weber & Schmidt. Page 328.
We publish it as we understand it is a fair use. Although the information posted in this web is under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License this does not imply the game has lost its copyright. You can consider the game and its rules have a copyright, and what is free is this way of explaining them.
If you are the copyright holder and don't want to have it published here, please contact us