16th Inter-University Games: Omweso

Men:

  • Winner: Busitema University (27 Goals, 20 Points)
  • 1st Runners up: Ndejje University (21 Goals, 15 Points)
  • 2nd Runners up: Busoga University (4 Goals, 4 Points)

Women:

  • Winner: Busitema University (10 Goals, 8 Points)
  • 1st Runners up: Ndejje University (3 Goals, 4 Points)
  • 2nd Runners up: Busoga University (1 Goal, 1 Point)

For the first time ever, the Inter-University games had two rare items on the ever growing menu.

Beach Soccer and Omweso (board game) earned a maiden appearance during the 16th Edition of the games.

For Omweso, a traditional board game which traces its origin as far back as the 17th century in Egypt, it was excitement unlimited as the game was played.

Dan Isabirye, the Minds Sports Association of Uganda president, under which Omweso subscribes to believes the addition of this game is a great idea sought by Association of Uganda University Sports  (AUSS).

The Omweso, as one of the abstract strategy games will further help sharpen the thinking abilities of the participants, like many other board games. We included the recording of each particular moves executed on the table.

The Omweso playing board

During the games, Busitema University had a clean sweep of both the male and female gender gold medals.

Busitema’s men’s team had Simon Okidi, Lazarus Kungu and Samson Kisekka whilst the women side was inspired by Hellen Rose Pedun and Constance Ochwo.

Ndejje University were the runners up in either gender thanks to the team effort of Andrew Okalang, Joel Adupa, Moses Odong and Esau Sharban (men) with Vero Aanyu combining with Franka Auma (women).

Host University, Busoga’s male team had Julius Malinga, Amina Kenneth, Samuel Ekeal and Ambrose Draleku contributing 10 goals and 7 points.

The women’s side of Alice Debraoh Amoding and Nambia Kane scored 1 goal and point apiece to finish third and take bronze.

University students share ideas on how to play the omweso game

About the Game:

Omweso is a traditional game that belongs to the Mancala family. It is believed to have been introduced to Uganda by the Bachwezi people, of the ancient Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom.

It is played on a board that has 32 cells with 2 seeds in each cell, similar to Bao in Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar; plus that of Owale played in many West African nations.

Playing Omweso:

The normal way to win the game is to be the last player to be able to make a legal move, possible by capturing all an opponent’s stones or reducing the opponent to no more than one seed in each pit. Alternatively, a player can win by capturing on both ends of the board in one turn.

Game Set Up:

Before the game, four (4) seeds are placed in each of the eight pits closest to a player to ensure that both players have exactly 32 seeds. The first player is chosen by lot.

This player arranges all owned seeds on their side of the board according to preference (The arrangement should be strategic).

Then, the second player also arranges their seeds. The first player then makes the first sowing move.

Play consists of turns, each move may involve several laps. A player moves by selecting a pit with at least two seeds, and sowing them one by one around their side of the board in a counter-clockwise direction from the starting pit.

The player may only sow from one of the sixteen pits in their territory, and the sowing proceeds around this territory, not directly involving the opponent’s side.

Although in the past it was common for players to spend much time in thought, in modern tournaments only three seconds of thought is allowed per turn.

Capturing:

If the last seed sown lands in one of the player’s eight inner pits, which is occupied, and furthermore both the opponent’s pits in this same column are occupied, then all seeds from these two pits are captured and sown starting from the pit where this capturing lap began (i.e., from the last pit scooped, NOT from the original hole from the very beginning of the turn).

In turn, one can also capture on the reverse – Instead of sowing in a counter-clockwise direction, a player may sow clockwise from any of their four leftmost pits if this results in a capture.

Upon re-entering these reverse-captured seeds, the player may sow them clockwise again, if and only if this play results in a direct capture.

The player may also choose to sow reverse-captured seeds in the usual counter-clockwise manner, and there is no compulsion to play one direction or the other when the choice is available.

During a relay-sowing move, one lap of which ends at one of the four leftmost pits, a player may also change direction and begin sowing the next leg of the move clockwise, if and only if this play results in a direct capture

There are two categories of victories; a normal win earns the victor one goal and win by default (Akakyala) – where there are two captures .

The contemporary setting of the game ushered in the recording system for each and every move in a way of further studying the game – where further studies have helped IT specialists to develop software.

There is the timing system of 18 minutes accorded to each player with a break of 30 seconds per move.

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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