Carrom is best described as a combination of three separate games namely pool, marbles and air hockey. It can be a fast moving game at times and it does involve a lot of strategy to be a top player and win the games.
It is played on a standard playing board that measures 29”x 29” and the surface of the board is very smooth making the pieces move very fast with the slightest effort, this can make the game harder at times as control also plays a key part in this game.
There are four corner pockets on the board and the board also has a thick frame which will cause the pieces to rebound at a fast pace. The playing pieces closely resemble draught pieces as they are round discs and the striker piece is a lot heavier than the object pieces to be aimed at.
The object of the game is to pocket all of your pieces and a red “queen “ piece before your opponents, this will award you points and the player with the highest number of points or the first player to reach a target number of points will be declared the winner.
The origins of this game are a bit obscure; some people claim it was invented in the United Kingdom while others claim it was in fact invented in India where it is still a very popular game to this day.
In India it is played as a pastime at home but has also developed into a social event with workers playing this game during their breaks and even at nighttimes with each other.
Official tournaments began in India in 1935 and there are now national teams in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Afghanistan and the Republic of the Maldives.
With immigration to other countries the game spread on a large scale into Europe and in the 1980’s many European countries were also staging major tournaments. As expected different countries developed their own rules but these have all been standardised by a governing body and there is just one set of official rules played in all tournaments across the world meaning that international competitions were able to take place.
The playing board consists of four sides that each have a baseline, this actually comprises of two parallel lines with a red circle on each end, these are used for placing the striking piece onto. In the centre of the board there is a circled area, this is where all of the other pieces are placed at the start of play, these are positioned so that the white pieces are lined up towards the corner pockets.
The first player will “break” the pieces by flicking the striker piece towards the pack thus splitting them up. He then has another try to pot one of his pieces and will continue playing until he misses a shot, then it is the turn of the next player.
On his first shot the player must place his striking piece on the baseline and the piece must be in contact with both of the lines. If he places his piece on the red circles at the end, then that piece must completely cover the red circle otherwise the piece must not touch the red circles.
Forward shots must be made by using your index or middle finger, if you are playing back shots you are allowed to use your thumb. There are a few grip styles that are permitted, each player will have their own preference as long as your hand is steady before you shoot it will help your play. At any time you are not allowed to push your striking piece, it always has to be flicked. Your red queen can be potted after you have potted one of your ordinary pieces but it must be potted before the final piece has.
Once the queen has been potted you have to cover her in the same pocket with your next shot, if you fail to do this she is returned to the board thus not allowing you to finish the game.
The game is scored very simply, if you have cleared all of your pieces then you will receive a point for each piece that the opponent has remaining on the board, if you have covered your queen you will get an extra three points.
If your score is 22 or above then no points can be claimed for the queen.
Each game finishes when a player reaches 25 points.
If your striker piece goes down the pocket then you have to replace one of you’re object pieces and your turn is over. If one of your pieces goes down with your striker piece then you must replace two pieces back onto the board. The opposing player places the pieces in the centre circle, you cannot do this yourself.
If you pocket the queen and one of your other pieces is pocketed on the same shot then your queen is classed as covered automatically.
If a piece leaves the board it is replaced back into the centre circle.
If you pocket one of your opponent’s pieces then you forfeit your turn. If you pocket their last remaining piece then you lose the board plus three points.
If you haven’t pocketed your queen and you pocket your last piece then you lose the board plus three penalty points plus you lose an extra point for every piece that your opponent has left on the board.
When you flick the striker piece from the base line it must clear both of the lines, if not you go again. If after three attempts it still hasn’t cleared the two lines then you lose your turn.
These are very basic rules and for tournament games the rules are far more extensive, these can be found in the official Carrom handbook.
Practice will improve your game and you will son be able to control your striking piece a lot better, do not be put off if you lose a few games, you will start to win some over a period of time!