If you are new to the Carrom board game or not sure about its rules and gameplay, you have come to the right place. This article will act as your guidebook to learning all about the Carrom board game.
Carrom is a classic board game, commonly played with family and friends at social functions. However, you can play it at a more competitive level by participating in tournaments. The Carrom game combines pool and air hockey but is more compact and portable.
Carrom is an indoor tabletop game, but with the advancement in technology, you can play Carrom online. The game’s main objective remains to flick the striker to drive the carrommen into any four corner pockets. However, the format and rules of the game may differ.
Who invented Carrom? A Brief History
Very little is known about the exact origin of Carrom before the 19th century, but it is believed that the game originated in an Indian sub-continent. There is a theory that The Indian Maharajas invented Carrom, but there is no concrete evidence to support this claim. So, our understanding of who invented Carrom is a bit ambiguous.
Another theory states that Carrom originated from Portugal and became famous through their vast empire in India and Asia during the 19th century. And that’s not all. Interestingly, in Ancient Egypt, a similar board is found, and there are references to a similar-sounding game found in ancient Greek literature.
We cannot trace back to who invented Carrom, but we surely know that the game became very popular among the masses after World War I. Moreover, state-level competitions were being held in different states of India during the early part of the 20th century. Although by 1958, both India and Sri Lanka formed official federations of Carrom clubs, sponsoring tournaments and awarding prizes, it was not until 1988 that the International Carrom Federation (ICF) was formed. In the same year, the formal rules for the Indian version of the game were published.
ICF was founded in Chennai, and currently, the head office is based in Zurich, Switzerland. The focus of the ICF is the administration and governance of Carrom worldwide by developing, promoting, and leading Carrom around the globe. The game has been very popular throughout Asia, Europe, and the USA. Here is a brief overview of the associations governing the Carrom game:
- Asia: Under the supervision of the Asian Carrom Confederation, SAARC countries championships are organized every year
- Europe: The European Carrom Confederations allots Euro Cup every year and coordinates the activities of the national federations, in rotation
- USA: The US Carrom Association holds National open championship annually
Equipment’s to play Carrom
Carrom is played by two (in singles) or four players (in doubles) on a square polished plywood board, with a pocket in each corner. The Carrom board involves nine dark colors, nine light colors, a red/pink queen, and a striker. The dark color pieces are black, whereas the light color pieces are generally white.
To play Carrom, you require the following:
1. Carrom board
A standardized Carrom board is 29 inches (74 cm), and the edges are bounded by bumpers of wood, with each pocket covered by a net that is 10 cm2 or larger.
The nine light and dark color pieces are called carrommen. They are made of wood or plastic and are also known as coins, seeds, pawns, or pucks. The Carrommen are made with a smooth surface that slides easily when laid flat on the board. They are struck by a striker that is larger and heavier than the carrommen.
ICF approves pieces with a diameter of no more than 3.18 cm and no less than 3.02 cm. The carrommen should be between 7 and 9 mm thick, and the mass must be between 5.0 and 5.5g.
A striker is a carrom board piece that pushes the carrommen and queen across the board. Typically, the striker weighs 35 grams of size 4.1cm diameter.
4. The Queen
The most valuable piece is Carrom is the Queen. According to the ICF rules, pocketing the queen adds 3 points. The dimensions of the queen must be the same as those of other carrommen.
A fine-grained powder is used to enable pieces to slide easily on the Carrom board. The most widely used powder is Boric acid powder.
How to play Carrom?
The game’s main objective is to use your finger to flick your striker at the carrommen or queen, forcing them to fall into any of the four corner pockets. The player who pockets all their carrommen and sometimes queen wins the game.
You can play Carrom as a single player or in a team. If you are playing professionally, each player/team has a color and can pocket that color of carrommen. To pocket the queen, you need to follow a set of rules (scroll down to the rules and fouls section). The winner of the board collects one point for each opponent’s carrommen left at the finish and three points for the queen if covered by the winner. If the loser covers the queen, no one gets the queen points. A game consists of 25 points. If you reach 21 points, you can not collect queen points.
Here are the four steps you need to follow to play Carrom:
- Familiarize yourself with the Carrom board and pieces
- Decide who will strike first and prepare the game
- Strike the pieces and Cover the Queen
- Pocket all the carrommen and win the game
Learn about the steps mentioned above in detail here.
Rules and Fouls in Carrom
The ICF enforces the International rules of Carrom, also known as “The Laws of Carrom.” We have divided Carrom rules into three broad categories:
Carrom rules to break
Before starting the game, the referee hides one black carrommen in one hand and one white carrommen in the other hand. The player needs to guess which color carrommen is in each hand. The player who guesses correctly wins the toss and gets to strike first. The winner can give up their first turn and change sides from white to black. So, if the toss winner chooses to switch sides, the loser must strike first. The player who takes the first shot has to play for white carrommen.
Carrom rules to Cover the Queen
Any player pocketing the queen needs to cover it immediately by pocketing one or more carrommen of their own color. If they fail to do that, the queen is returned to the center of the board.
Apart from the rules mentioned above, general rules are there for covering the queen and shooting a carrommen. Please take a look at our article to know about those rules.
Learn about the Fouls to avoid in Carrom here.
Carrom Board Variations
Apart from the standardized Carrom board size, you can also find a smaller board with large pockets. Beginners use boards with larger pockets for easier gameplay. Here are 4 Carrom board variations:
Duboo – Pakistani Version
Duboo is mainly played in the largest city of Pakistan – Karachi. In Duboo, the size of the board is much larger than the usual size. Moreover, instead of flicking the striker, the player slides the striker to hit the carrommen or queen.
Tokyu-Ban – Japanese Version
The Carrom game became popular in the Showa period by the name of Tokyu-ban, which implies a fight ball board or a throw ball board. The game is still prevalent in Hikone, a city in Japan, under the name Hikone Karomu. The Hikone Karomu board is much smaller (60cmx60cm) than the standardized board and has large pockets. The striker is wooden and is of the same size as the pucks/carrommen. Moreover, pucks/carrommen are arranged in a ring with the jack/queen in the center to set up the board. Also, each player has 12 pucks/carrommen instead of 9.
Fichapool – Mexican version
Fichapool or colloquially is the Mexican variation of Carrom. The board has large pockets, and each player has 12 men/carrommen. Interestingly, the men/carrommen are made of plastic rings.
The American version is a variant developed around 1890 in the United States. In this version, striker weight is reduced, and the carrommen, including the striker, are rings. The game pieces are originally made of wood but are commercially made of light plastic today. Moreover, some American Carrom boards use miniature cue sticks to hit the striker.
Online vs. Offline Carrom Game
With the advancement in technology, now you can play Carrom online. How is the gameplay different? Well, whether you decide to play Carrom online or offline, there is a set of rules and techniques that remains the same. There are many Carrom games online, and each one has a set of rules to follow. So, remember to check the rules of the online Carrom game you choose to play. In fact, you can play online Carrom games for real money.
Generally, you can play online multiplayer mode, which connects you to a player present online, or computer mode that lets a player play against a computer bot. There are 24 hours’ online Carrom tournaments, with round-the-clock customer support. Moreover, online carrom games offer cashback and referral rewards. Remember to go through the offers and the gameplay of whichever online Carrom game you choose to play. Also, look out for games that provide 100% secure transactions if you decide to play for cash.
Remember, both online and offline Carrom requires practice, concentration, and presence of mind.
Is playing Carrom good for your health?
While playing Carrom allows you to bond with your family, it also gives you a chance to relax and refresh your mind. A side effect of any board game like Carrom is laughter. In general, laughing and having a good time helps to reduce stress. Moreover, studies have found that challenging the brain with mentally stimulating leisure activities like playing Carrom would largely reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Playing board games increases brain function, and engaging in play assists in practicing essential cognitive skills, such as strategic thinking, decision making, and problem-solving.
Carrom tricks and Tips
The first tip for playing Carrom is excellent precision, concentration, and a good sense of angle. You must flick the striker in a way it hits and pockets the game pieces. Moreover, if you want to improve your game, learn different striking styles like scissors or index finger striking styles.
Take a look at this article, where we discuss the 10 best Carrom tricks.