| wari, warri, aualé, awelé,|
abapa, awari, awalé
| Played in: |
Western Africa and the Caribbean
|6 holes per row|
Oware is the name under which the Oware World Federation knows the game which is also called wari, warri, aualé, awelé, abapa, etc.
Oware is played in Africa from Senegal to Gabon, in the African hinterland also in Mali and Burkina Faso, and on the islands of Cabo Verde.
It is also known on some Caribbean islands (English and French speaking ones), especially in Antigua, Barbuda and Barbados and in Suriname.
Nowadays, the game is much played by expatriate communities in Europe and increasingly by native Europeans, too.
The game is usually played with Caesalpinia bonduc seeds. In Antigua & Barbuda they appreciate more some closely related seeds that are rounder and orange-brownish, instead of green-grayish.
In many places oware is just played by men at least in the public, although women usually play it as well, just between themselves or with their husbands. In other places oware is the game played by men, and women and children have their own simpler game (usually ba-awa).
Usually people play outdoors. In the Caribbean it is not strange to find drivers playing at the taxi station.
What follows are the internationally unified rules for this game, promoted by the Oware Society and used in most international championships currently organized all over the world. They are sometimes called International Rules or Abapa Rules (or Oware, Abapa version).
The board consists of two rows of six pits. Initially there are four seeds in each pit.
On his turn, a player takes all the seeds of one of the six pits on his side of the board, and distributes them one by one in counterclockwise direction into the following pits. The turn ends after having distributed all seeds in hand.
|South plays from the 3rd pit|
|And the position becomes like this|
If a pit contained more than 11 seeds, it must be skipped when it is reached again.
|South plays from the 5th pit|
|and skips the starting pit|
If the last seed is sown into an opponent's pit then containing 2 or 3 seeds (including the one just sown), the contents of that pit are captured. If the previous pit meets the same conditions (opponent's, 2 or 3 seeds) it is also captured, and so on until a pit doesn't meet both conditions.
|South plays from the 1st pit|
|ends in the opponent's 4th pit|
|and captures the contents of opponent's 4th and 3rd pits|
If a move is made that would leave the opponent without seeds, no seed is captured.
|South plays from 6th pit|
|ends in the opponent's 6th pit and captures nothing|
If a move is made that leaves a player without seeds, the opponent has to sow into the empty side. If no such move is available the game ends. The player with seeds in his side captures them.
|North plays (just one option)|
|and North's side remains empty, so South must play in a way he gives North some seeds|
|so now North can play again|
|In this case, after North plays|
|North's side is empty, but South can not give him any seed|
|so South captures all seeds remaining on his side|
If a position is cyclically repeated, the game ends, when both sides of the board have any seed. Seeds are captured by the players who have them in their side.
|Usual cyclical position|
|Players get the seed on their side|
The player who captured most seeds wins.
Usually not just one game is played, but a match, especially on tournaments.
- In Antigua people usually play to be the first to win 6 games or to win 3 more games than the opponent.
- In international tournaments usually matches are played to the first to win 3 games (Cannes), 5 games or the best of 3 games.
- In tournaments held in places with no traditional background, specially when organized by Chess players, usually they play at just one game (Prague).
- Yoruba people play up to win 3 games in a row.
- Akan people, in Côte d'Ivoire, used to play up to win 5 games in a row, but now they play to win 3 games out of 5.
- In Kumasi they play to be the first to win 5 games.
As the game is so widespread, and there has been no central authority for centuries, there are many minor differences all around the world.
Antigua and Barbuda
You can leave the opponent with no seeds, and then you play again.
Guinea Bissau (Ful people)
On the first movement you can take all the seeds from one hole and put them on the next one.
As the Ful from Guinea Bissau do, on the first move you can take all the seeds from one hole and put them on the next one.
As the Ashanti do, if you make a movement that would leave the opponent with no seeds, you capture nothing.
You cannot take with a singleton.
Some Akan people in Western Ghana
On your first move you must make a move that ends on the opponent's side.
At the end or the game, the seeds remaining on the board are for noone. You need at least 25 seeds to win. So, a 24-22 with 2 seeds on the board is a draw.
At the end of the game, the seeds remaining on the board are split evenly between both players. If there is an odd number of seeds, the extra one goes to the one who has more seeds on this side.
If the opponent has no seeds and you cannot feed him, the seeds remaining on your side of the board are for your opponent. As of this, you are not allowed at the end of the game to leave a single seed on your first hole once it is under menace (this would be a tactic to have nothing on your side and capture all the remaining seeds).
Some people think this difference make it a completly different game from International Oware.
If you have no seeds on your turn, you pass your move till you can move again.
If you have no other option, you can take all the seeds from the opponent's side. Then the game is over and the remaining seeds are yours.
When a position is repeated three times, the seeds are splited evenly, even if there is an odd number of them. This way a game can end with a score of, for example, 24.5-23.5
They call this game Awari and they have solved it (see Awari Oracle).
- In most of the Caribbean to capture is to cut.
- In Antigua the left most hole is called foot, the right most head and the one next to the head, throat or neck.
- Usually the holes are called houses, but in Antigua a house is a kru
- The holes with many seeds are called graniers, kru, kroo, krou, Aklou, odu...
- A capture from a kru is usually called "grand slam". In versions where the rules allow it, a grand slam is also the act of capturing all 6 houses of one's opponent.
- Putting seeds in an opponent's kru so it will be overcharged is called to rot it.
- A kru is said to be mature when it reaches the opponent's side.
- In Barbados the seeds are called Horse Nickers, which is supposed to come from arsenicals, as the seeds content some arsenic.
- To give seeds to an opponent who has nothing on his side of the board is to feed him.
- Usually the seeds and the game share the same name.
Names of the game
Being played in so many places, Oware has many names.
- Catalan: Aualé
- French: Awalé or Awélé
- Mooré: Awele
- Baule: Awale
- Jula / Bambara: Awele
- English: Oware, Wari or Warri
- Antigua English: Warri
- Barbados English: Wari
- Twi: Owari or Oware
- Yoruba: Ayo or Ayoayo
- Portuguese: Ouri
- Cape Verdian: Ourin or Ouri
- Wolof: Wari or Woro
- Mandingo: Wari or Woro
- Peul / Fulani / Ful: Awèlé or Wari
- Gola: Kpo or Poo
- Fang: Kale
- Aucaner: Aghi
- In Suriname: Awari
"When you play warri with God, you get no seed."
"By the time the fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed."
- Ballou, Kanga
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- Bautista i Roca, Víktor
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- Chamberlin, David
- (1984) How to play Warri. Saint Johns (Antigua & Barbuda).
- Culin, Stewart
- (1896) 'Mancala, the National Game of Africa' in Annual Report of the Board of Regents... for the Year Ending June 30, 1894. Report of the U.S, Washington: National Museum.
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- (1977) Wari et solo. Le jeu de calculs africain. Paris.
- Herskovits, Melville J.
- (1932) 'Wari in the New World', in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London; Vol. 62: 23-37]
- (1992) Rules for playing oware. Abapa version. Kumasi
- Murray, H. J. R.
- (1952) A history of board-games other than chess. Oxford.
- Odeleye, Chief A.O.
- (1979) Ayo. A popular Yoruba Game. Ibadan
- Pingaud, François
- (1996) L'awélé. Jeu de stratégie africain. Paris.
- Popova, Assia
- (1976) 'Les mankala africain', in Cahiers d'Études africaines; 16 (3-4): 444-445.
- Raabe, Juliette
- (1972) Le jeu de l'awéle. Paris
- Retschitzki, Jean
- (1990) Stratégies des joueurs d'awélé. Paris.
- Reysset, Pascal i François Pingaud
- (1993) Awélé. Le jeu des semailles africaines. Paris.
- Romein, John
- (2002) The Awari Oracle. [Web site]
- Romein, John W. and Henri E. Bal
- (2003) 'Solving the Game of Awari using Parallel Retrograde Analysis', in IEEE Computer; volume 36, number 10, October: pp. 26-33.
- Russ, Larry
- (2000) The complete mancala games book. New York.
- Voogt, Alexander J. de
- (1997) Mancala Board Games, Cambridge.
- Zaslavsky, C.
- (1974) Africa counts: Number and Pattern in African Culture, Boston.
- Bautista i Roca, Víktor
- Oware player since 1993. He has played in the Caribbean (Antigua), Africa (Burkina Faso and Ghana) and Europe (Catalonia, France, England). He has played with and learned from players of many different origins: Akan, Antiguan, Ashanti, Barbados, Baulé, Capeverdian, Catalan, English, French, Fulani (Peul, Ful), Irish, Jula, Mosi, Yoruba...
- Cases i Majoral, Salvador
- Oware player since 1998. He has played in the Caribbean (Antigua) and Europe (Catalonia, France).