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The Rules of the Game

Warri is played with 48 seeds on a rectangular board that has twelve receptacles or "houses" arranged in six pairs along the length of the board. The players sit with the board crossways between them. At the start of the game, 4 seeds are placed in each house.

The object of the game is to capture the majority of the 48 seeds. All seeds have the same value, and the winner of the game is the player that captures more than half the number. In fact, the game ends as soon as one of the players has captured 25 seeds. A draw is declared if both players capture 24 seeds. In a tournament, the first player to win six games is the champion.

Once it is decided who opens the game, the players take make their moves alternately. In a move or "cut", the player lifts all the seeds from any one of the six houses that are on his/her side of the board, leaving that house empty, and redistributes or "sows" the seeds by placing one seed into each house to the right of the chosen house, without skipping any of the houses along the row. If the player still has seeds in hand when the redistribution reaches the rightmost house on the player’s side, he/she continues sowing seeds one by one into the houses on the opponent’s side of the board contuining the counter-clockwise cycle around the board until the seeds in hand are exhausted. In a move or "cut" therefore, the player repositions all of the seeds from one of his/her houses into the houses that follow along an anticlockwise path around the board.

A player may only move from a house on his/her side of the board

There is no limit to the number of seeds you may accumulate in a house. (In fact it is a good strategy to "build a house". The trick is to know the right moment to break it!) When a player chooses to move from a house that contains more than eleven seeds, the distribution of the seeds will go a full lap around the board and commence a second lap but he must skip the house from which the move was started. The house from which a move was started should therefore always end up being an empty house after that play.

When a house contains a count of one (1) or two (2) seeds, it is said to be "vulnerable, and when a vulnerable house occurs on the opponent’s side of the board, there is an opportunity for the player to make a capture. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, the player must make his/her move from a house that contains precisely the number of seeds, so that the last seed in the move comes to fall in the vulnerable house. If such a move is possible, the player claims the contents of the vulnerable house as well as the seed that was added in the capturing move. The total prize for the capture of a single vulnerable house will therefore be two (2), or three (3) seeds. These are removed from play and stored with the players other captures.

If there was another vulnerable house just before the captured house, its contents are also automatically seized by the capturing move. So too are the seeds in any other vulnerable houses preceding the point of capture as long as they formed an unbroken string of vulnerable houses connected to the captured house.

Remember that a player may only make a capture from a vulnerable house on the opponent’s side of the board.

There is a penalty for leaving the opponent without seeds to move with. If the opponent’s side of the board has no seeds remaining on it when it is his/her turn to play, the player forfeits all of the remaining seeds on the board to the opponent! (Players should therefore always try to ensure that the opponent’s side has at least one seed with which to play. If a player has an opportunity to capture all of the seeds on the opponent’s side as can happen in a multiple house capture, he/she should be sure that the move will win more seeds than are lost in the penalty!)

If the game has been evenly contested, it might happen that only three or four seeds come to remain in play on the board. With this number of seeds, the two players can easily avoid any further losses. In the case where there are three or four endlessly circulating seeds, players agree to stop play and count the seeds they have captured. The player with the majority is given the game.


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