A Look at the Carrom Board Game: History, Rules & Beyond

Carrom Board Games

While modern board games often capture the interest of kids and adults for a short period of time, it's often the classic games like Carrom board games that remain a favorite for every generation.

About Carrom Board Games

Like chess, checkers and other classic games, Carrom board games date so far back that most people don't know its origins. Some experts believe the game originated in Egypt or Ethiopia, while others cite it as starting in India. Regardless of the origin, this somewhat simple game remains a favorite pastime for many cultures.

The History of Carrom

For the past several generations, the popularity of Carrom was centered in India and Asia. The game was so popular that throughout the 1950s and 1960s there were even national tournaments in many countries throughout the world. Its popularity spread throughout the western world, mostly in Europe, throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and finally made inroads into the United States in the 1980s and beyond. The Carrom board game now has a set of International standards that professional players from every country follow, and regional Carrom organizations continue to pop up all throughout the world.

About the Game

There are several versions of the Carrom game, but there's only one official version centered upon the Indian original. Most U.S. versions of the game include clue sticks and rings, and the center of the board usually also includes additional classic board games like checkers or chess. However, the original game (and the "correct" board according to the International regulations) has a circle in the center where the carrom pieces are all arranged with a "queen," which is usually a red piece, in the center.

The Official Carrom Rules

While Western variations of the game allow players to use cue sticks and play the game like pool, the International Standard set of rules followed by all professional leagues requires the use of fingers only. The following rules outline how the original and official game is played at all international tournaments.

  • Each player sits on one side of the board and the "white" side goes first. The goal of the game is very much like pool - each player tries to sink all of his or her carrom pieces first.
  • Using a slightly heavier "striker" piece, each player takes a turn flicking the striker with his or her finger in an attempt to sink pieces into one of the four pockets.
  • The center queen is worth more points if sunk into a pocket and "covered." To cover the queen means to sink one of your pieces immediately following sinking the queen (see scoring below).
  • If a player sinks their striker he loses a piece and his turn. If the striker goes in after a piece, two pieces come out into the center circle but the player doesn't lose his turn.
  • If a player sinks the opponent's piece, he loses a turn - sinking the opponent's last remaining piece loses three points and the board.
  • Sinking your last piece before sinking the queen loses three points as well as one point for every one of the opponent's piece remaining, plus the player loses the board.

As the rules show, the Queen rules in the game of Caroom, and sinking that piece in the wrong order can have disastrous consequences! Most tournament games run for eight boards, or until a player reaches 25 points, whichever comes first.

How to Score in Carrom

Scoring in the game of Carrom is very easy, although it can get complicated when a player makes a mistake and sinks the striker or, even worse, fails to sink the queen at the end.

  • The winner of the board (there are eight boards in a game) gets a point for every one of the opponent's pieces remaining on the board. If the winner was able to sink the queen and "cover" her - follow her with a piece - then that player also gets three extra points at the end of that board.
  • Sinking the opponent's last piece at the end of the board forfeits the board (the opponent wins), and the player loses three points for the game.
  • If a player sinks his last piece with the queen still on the board (no one sunk and covered her), that player loses a point for every opponent's piece left standing, three points for the remaining queen, and obviously loses that board.

Scoring takes place at the end of each board, depending how the last few plays take place and what pieces are remaining after the winner of that board sinks his last piece. The difficulty of the game is not so much sinking your own pieces, but avoiding sinking the pieces that can make you lose points or lose the board, such as your own striker or your last piece before the queen.

Learning More About Carrom

If Carrom board games sound like something you might be interested in trying, take a look at the following sites that provide a great deal of additional information not only about the game, but about the worldwide players and enthusiasts who love to play it.

  • USCarrom.org - The U.S. Carrom Association
  • ICF - The International Carrom Federation.
  • Carrom Corporation - The original manufacturer of the U.S. version of Carrom Game Boards (not only vintage Carrom).

Playing Carrom is a great deal of fun with family and friends because it's so easy to learn, easy to keep track of the score, and very competitive!

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A Look at the Carrom Board Game: History, Rules & Beyond