Togyz Kumalak was Abai’s Favorite Tabletop Game

Togyz Kumalak is one of the oldest mancala games in Central Asia. According to scholars, who studied the life and works of the great Kazakh poet and educator Abai Kunanbaiuly, Togyz Kumalak was his favorite board game.

The references in archival documents confirm that the Togyz Kumalak tournaments were held regularly in the 19th century. These competitions involved many prominent public figures in Central Asia.

“The great Abai could play Togyz Kumalak with his students day and night; the tournaments could last for several days. He always won,” said poet, Almakhan Mukhametkalikyzy.

The great poet Abai believed that Togyz Kumalak could help develop critical thinking abilities among the players. The founder of the Kazakh written literature dedicated poetic lines to the game.

“The great Abaiwas not just a good player, but he also organized various competitions in order to make the game popular. According to the research, the ancient mancala game helps train such traits as self-restraint, patience, and logical reasoning skills. That’s why we want to continue popularizing the Togyz Kumalak,” said Secretary-General of Kazakh Togyz Kumalak Federation, Serik Aktayev.

A special format of Togyz Kumalak tournaments has been developed in order to popularize the ancient sport. The competitions will involve historians and scientists. The first tournament has already been held in the Kazakh capital.