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A 7x6 square grid is a common board used to play Derrah.  The game commences with the board vacant of counters.

Alternate Names
Dara, Shiva, Kare, Karnun, Dala, Alkarhat, Wari (not to be confused with the Mancala game of the same name), Dra, Dili, Wali, Kyoti.

No. of Players

Derrah and its variations may be played on a 7x6 square grid, 6x6 square grid, or 5x6 square grid but always uses twelve each of black and white counters.

Several games of this type are played in the Sahara and North Africa. Derrah is documented more thoroughly than others and is played by the Dakarkari people of Nigeria.

The goal is to from orthogonal rows of three counters, thereby removing one of your opponent’s counters for each row formed. When a player has lost all but two counters they have lost the game.

In the first phase of the game players alternate turns placing one counter at a time on any vacant square on the board. When all 24 counters have been placed, the second phase begins. In the second phase, alternate turns entail moving any one piece orthogonally (not diagonally) to an adjacent vacant square. When a (horizontal or vertical, but not diagonal) row of three is formed the player removes one of his opponent’s counters from the board. Rows made during the initial placement do not count; nor do rows made of four or more counters or rows derived by removing an end piece from a row of four. If a move makes a row in two ways, two captures may be made.

Variations often concern methods of entry and alignments of more than three counters.

The game of Wari played on the Gold Coast allows initial placing of orthogonal rows of three, four, or more counters but does not allow captures until all counters are entered. The removal of an end counter from a line of four or more to make a row of three does not permit a capture.

The game of Dala from Sudan is another variation. Played on a 6 x 6 grid, counters are entered two at a time and the four central squares must be filled first. Here, an initial line of four or more may be reduced to a line of three during movement and entitle that player to a capture.

In Alkarhat, each player commences with 13 counters, rather than 12; again playing on a 6x6 grid.

The game of Shiva, also called Kare or Karnun, from Nigeria prohibits initial placement of rows larger than two and also does not allow any rows larger than three to be formed during movement. Here, once a line has been made none of its counters may move again. A player wins outright by making three lines of three before his opponent makes one. It is played on a grid of 5x6 or 6x6 squares.

The game of Dra, also called Dili, Wali, or Kyoti, from the Sahara is played on a grid of 5x6 cells. Like Shiva, it prohibits initial placement of rows larger than two and also does not allow any rows larger than three to be formed during movement. If a move makes a row in two ways, only one capture can be made.

  1. Provenzo, Asterie Baker and Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr.  Play It Again, Historic Board Games You Can Make and Play.  Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1981.  ISBN 0-13-683367-5