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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How to Play Kalah

Kalah, also called mancala or "the game of intelligence," was played by the pharaohs of Egypt at least 3,000 years ago. The object is to collect as many pebbles as possible.

Make a Kalah Game Board

  1. Cut the lid off an empty egg carton.
  2. Place the bottom part of the carton on the table. Each egg holder is a "pit" for placing pebbles.
  3. Place six small pebbles, beads or other objects in each pit. For beginning players, place three pebbles in each pit.
  4. Place a paper cup at each end of the egg carton. These are the "kalah," or scoring pits.


Play Kalah



  1. Sit facing your opponent with the kalah game board between you. The six pits (or egg holders) in front of you and the kalah (paper cup) to your right belong to you. The others belong to your opponent.
  2. Flip a coin to decide which player will go first.
  3. Pick up all the pebbles from any one of your pits.
  4. Place the pebbles, one at a time, into each pit to the right (counterclockwise) around the board, including your own kalah, but not your opponent's kalah.
  5. Take another turn if your last pebble lands in your own kalah.
  6. Place your last pebble in an empty pit on your own side, and you capture all of your opponent's pebbles in the opposite pit.
  7. Place the captured pebbles and your capturing pebble in your kalah.
  8. Take turns placing pebbles in the pits until all six pits on one side of the board are empty.
  9. Place any pebbles remaining on your side into your own kalah.
  10. Count the number of pebbles in each player's kalah. The player with the most pebbles is the winner.

Once a player touches the pebbles, he must play them. You are not allowed to touch the pebbles to count them.

In some kalah versions, including some online games, players have the kalah on their left and play moves clockwise (in contrast to the kalah being on the right and moving counterclockwise as described above). It really doesn't matter which version you use.

Remember, small game pieces such as pebbles and beads are choking hazards for very young children.

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