Vai lung thlan

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vai lung thlan ( Mizo : lung "stone", thlān "grave"; vai means "foreign" or stands for vai phei, the name of an old Kuki clan) is a Mancala variant, which was first introduced in 1912 by Lt. Colonel J Shakespear was described in the book The Lushei Kuki Clans . The game is played by women and men of the Mizo (formerly: Lushai ) who live in the Indian state of Mizoram , which stretches between Myanmar and Bangladesh in the far east of the subcontinent. Mizoram was annexed by the English in the early 1890s and became part of the state of Assam after Indian independence . In 1972 Mizoram became a union area and on February 20, 1987, after the signing of a peace agreement between the Indian government and the Mizo National Front in 1986, a separate state.

The game's unusual origins may be the reason why it is completely different from other Indian Mancala variants. Rather, it resembles Toguz Korgool , the national game of the Kyrgyz and Kazakhs .

The Mizo are known for their rich material culture, yet the board consists only of shallow hollows dug into the ground. This should not hide the fact that Vai lung thlan is a challenging game.

Rules of the game

The board consists of two by six hollows in which there are five stones at the beginning of the game. Each player controls a row of hollows.

Starting position
5 5 5 5 5 5
5 5 5 5 5 5

In each turn a player distributes the contents of one of his hollows one by one in clockwise direction to the following hollows.

When the last stone falls into an empty hollow, it catches this stone and also all stones that have come into an empty hollow in an uninterrupted chain behind it (in other words: counter- clockwise). It doesn't matter whether these stones are on your own or the opponent's side.

The stones struck are removed from the board.

It is not allowed to forego the move unless you cannot play. The game ends when both players can no longer move because there are no more stones on the board.

The winner is whoever caught the most stones. If each player hits 30 stones, the game ends in a draw.


The games start slowly, but accelerate when the board empties and the stones are concentrated in a few hollows. On average, a game lasts around 70 moves.

A trough containing 12 stones can always catch at least one stone, as the last stone is distributed into the emptied trough.

Holes that contain more than 12 stones can never catch stones. They are a good defense because each trough, after its contents are distributed, contains at least one stone.

At the end of the game the players try to take the last moves from the opponent and to keep as many stones as possible on their own side in such a way that only single stones are created when the contents are distributed in hollows. An overflowing pit is therefore a disadvantage in the endgame.


  • R. Gering: Vai lung thlan: A game of considerable skill . In: Abstract Games Magazine , 2002, 3 (12), pp. 15, 29.
  • L. Russ: The Complete Mancala Games Book: How to play the World's Oldest Board Games . Marlowe & Company, New York 2000.
  • J. Shakespear: The Lushei Kuki Clans . Macmillan and Co., London 1912.

Web links