| BohnDuell, Bohnenduell,|
| © 1965, Wald and|
|Stores are sown into|
|3 to 10 holes per row|
Cups was invented by Arthur and Wald Amberstone (father and son) in 1965. They were founding members of the N.Y.G.A. ("New York Game Associates") and basketmakers.
The game was first described by Sid Sackson in the first edition of his book A Gamut of Games in 1969. In Germany, 2x4 cups is known as BohnDuell, Bohnenduell ("bean duel") or Schalen-Spiel ("game of cups"). BohnDuell is played at Brettspielwelt, where tournaments are organized since 2001.
There is a BohnDuell Guild which keeps an Elo list ranking the best players. The strongest player according to the game's ELO list is Frank M. ("Puff") who lives in Karlsruhe, Germany. Together with other players on the Brettspielwelt, the BohnDuell players are organized in "cities" like Andoria, Phantasia and English Town, some of them even having their own homepages now. This virtual structure compares to fantasy role-playing games.
Another mancala game which was invented by the Amberstones is coin duel.
Cups is played with 2x3=6 - 2x10=20 cups and a bigger pot at the right end of each row. 2x4 is the size of BohnDuell in Brettspielwelt and the size recommended by Sid Sackson "for initially becoming acquainted with the beauties of Cups". Later the players can experiment with greater numbers of cups or can play with just three cups, making a "delightful miniature" (Sackson).
There must be always 10 beans per hole, so each player has 100 seeds when playing on a 2x10 board. These beans are kept in reserve, until they enter the game. At the start the board is empty.
|Initial Position (Maximum Size)|
Each player only plays on his/her side of the board. Play is from left to right.
If it's your turn, you must do one and only one of the following actions:
- Take some beans (from on to the number of cups) from your reserve and distribute them to the right, one by one, by starting in your leftmost hole. If the last bean is dropped into an empty hole and the opponent's hole opposite of you contains beans, these are captured and put into your pot. Only the opponent's beans are captured.
- Empty one of your cups which contains as many beans as needed to reach your pot with the last bean. You distribute these beans, again one by one, to the right and capture the last bean, which is dropped into your pot. You may only empty a cup if you reach with the last seed your pot.
There is the possibility of a "blocked cup", it is, a cup containing more beans than needed to reach the pot. It is not possible to play from this cup, and is an apetitous target for the opponent.
You must move, if you can. The game ends when no player is able to move. The seeds which are remaining in the cups are not counted. The winner is the player who captured more beans.
The game is particularly suited for retrograde analysis. It is very easy to construct from a given "perfect" endgame position other positions which are more than 50 steps "away". These problems appear to be unsolvable even for the most experienced human player.
A perfect endgame position has the following characteristics:
- every seed can eventually be played into the pot
- the leftmost hole (called 1) is filled
- it must number as few seeds as possible
- no seeds are left in the reserve
- you must have at least one seed in your cups
- the opponent has no seeds left which can interfere with your steps
n(h) || n(s) || seeds in holes 1 - n(h) ----------------------------------------- 1 || 1 || 1 2 || 2 || 2 0 3 || 4 || 3 1 0 4 || 6 || 4 2 0 0 5 || 10 || 5 3 1 1 0 6 || 12 || 6 4 2 0 0 0 7 || 18 || 7 5 3 1 2 0 0 8 || 22 || 8 6 4 2 0 1 1 0 9 || 30 || 9 7 5 3 1 3 2 0 0 10 || 34 || 10 8 6 4 2 0 2 1 1 0
n(h) = number of holes n(s) = number of seeds
The position 10 8 6 4 2 5 1 0 0 1, for instance, can be transferred into the perfect position in three steps.
The rather artificial position 3 1 0 0 4 3 0 0 0 1 (88 seeds in reserve) takes more than 80 steps to transfer.
- Amberstone, W.
- (2005) Personal Communication (E-Mail to Ralf Gering); 05/16/2005.
- Lang, T.
- (2003) 'BohnDuell', in Brettspielwelt.de. [Web site]
- Sackson, S.
- (1969) A Gamut of Games, New York: Pantheon. Pages 40-45.
- Schneider, A.
- (2003) BohnDuell goes online. [Web site]
- Schwagereit, J.
- (2005) Cupa: A Program to play Cups, also known as BohnDuell or Schalen-Spiel. [Web site]
We publish it as we understand it is a fair use. Although the information posted in this web is under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License this does not imply the game has lost its copyright. You can consider the game and its rules have a copyright, and what is free is this way of explaining them.
If you are the copyright holder and don't want to have it published here, please contact us