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How to Play Carrom: Rules & Instructions

Carrom is one of the most popular games in India. It’s a very historic game that has become popular all over the world. Now, of course, you’ll need to know the carrom rules if you want to play successfully. 

Now, this is where things get a little tricky because due to its age the rules for carrom are very diverse. There is a lot of variation to how the game can be played and much debate over what the right way to play actually is. 

However, in many Western countries, Carrom rules follow the same basic structure which is what we’ll be basing our guide around. So, let’s take a more in-depth look at Carrom and find out how to play it. 

What is Carrom? 

carrom rules

While it originated in India Carrom is very popular across South Asia and the Middle East. During the early 20th Century the game became very popular in the UK as well. While the game might appear similar to chess or checkers at first glance it actually has more in common with games like snooker and pool. 

Due to its popularity Carrom boards are available all around the world and many are even imported directly from India itself. So, let’s take a look at what equipment you need to play Carrom and examine the rules in more detail. 

How to Play Carrom 

carrom rules

What You’ll Need 

Just like the wide range of rules available when it comes to Carrom there are also a number of different board and counter designs/ styles. However, the good news is that many of the boards do follow a similar pattern/ design. 

You can find plenty of Carrom board sets available as well from many leading board game manufacturers. If you want to give Carrom a go then opting for one of these sets would be a good idea. 

Carrom Game Board

Once you’ve got your board and pieces you’ll need to know how to play. Carrom can look a little intimidating at first glance but once you know what everything does playing the game is easier than you might think. 

The Board 

While a Carrom board can vary the standard and most commonly seen board will be wooden, square-shaped, and flat. They are usually around 72 to 75 cms and each corner will have a circular hole with a net underneath it. 

The net is used to catch pieces, once again showing how Carrom is similar to pool or snooker. The board will be adorned with a design that commonly has two lines along the diagonals of the board. These lines are known as the foul lines.

In the center of the table, they’ll be two circles. One circle will be quite small and there will be a much larger one surrounding it. The smaller center circle is usually red so it will stand out from the rest of the board. 

Outside the circles, on each side of the board, they’ll be two lines parallel with the edge of the board as well. Together these lines will create a thin rectangular shape with small red circles at each end. These create a baseline which players will utilize when playing. 

The Counters 

One reason why Carrom’s rules can be so complicated is that it can be hard to know how to use each piece. With Carrom, the counters/ pieces can be separated into three groups Carrom Men, the Queen, and finally the Striker. 

Carrom Men 

There are eighteen Carrom Men on the board. Nine of the pieces will be black and the other nine will be white, although there are plenty of color variations. These pieces are small and circular and will adorn the large circle in the middle of the board. 

The Queen 

The Queen, just like in Chess, is one of the most important pieces in Carrom. The Queen is the same shape as the Carrom Men but will usually be red. The Queen is placed in the small circle in the center of the board. When the board is set-up the Queen will be surrounded by the Carrom Men. 

The Striker 

Finally, we have the striker. Each player will have their own and these pieces are larger and heavier than the Carrom Men. Professional Carrom players will usually have their own Striker pieces but they are also included with sets. 

Carrom Rules and Gameplay 

carrom rules

The Aim of The Game 

So, let’s get down to the rules of Carrom, shall we? Each player will take turns using their striker. The aim is to use your striker to pocket your Carrom Men. If you are the black team you aim to pocket the black pieces and vice-versa. If you successfully pocket a piece you can go again right away. 

However, it isn’t as simple as just pocketing all the black or white pieces. To win at least one of the players will need to cover the Queen. The Queen at the center of the board needs to be pocketed and then the player who pockets her will then need to pocket one of their own pieces. 

If this isn’t done the Queen will be returned to the board. Being the first player to cover the Queen will also net you more points. So, both players will normally aim to be the first to cover the Queen. 

Setting Up 

carrom rules

Before setting up the board you’ll need to decide who goes first. In Carrom, the player who goes first will have an advantage. While there are numerous ways to decide who goes first the traditional way to decide is as follows. 

One player should hold a Carrom Men piece in a closed hand. They place both hands behind their back and then the opponent picks left of right. If they choose the hand with the piece in they can choose to go first or second. If they’re wrong then the player who is holding the piece can choose. 

Once that is done the board can be set up. First of all, the Queen is placed in the middle circle and then the Carrom Men pieces are placed around the Queen. The pieces need to be placed carefully so the colors alternate. 

Striking 

Striking (or shooting) is the main movement in Carrom. There are numerous rules that can be followed when striking but the most common way is to use one finger in a flicking motion. The striker piece can also only be positioned within the bassline nearest to the player. 

Fouls

There are numerous different rules when it comes to fouls in Carrom but under the standard rules, this is what you need to be aware of.

  • Your hand can’t cross the foul lines on the board. 
  • Your striker can’t be pocketed. 
  • None of your pieces can be knocked off the board (unless properly pocketed). 
  • You can’t touch any piece other than your striker. 

If you do commit a foul then any Carrom Man that has been knocked off (of the fouling players color) must be returned to the board. If you foul and there are no pieces available to return then the foul is owed. 

This means that when you do pocket a piece it must be returned to the board right away. Fouling also ends your turn right away as well. 

Scoring 

carrom rules

Carrom is a score-based game, under the standard Carrom rules you score one point for each of your opponent’s pieces left on the board. Covering the Queen also gives you a bonus of five points as well.

Doubles 

While traditionally played as a two-player game Carrom can also be played in a doubles format. The rules and gameplay are basically the same but teammates sit opposite each other at the corners of the board and turns are taken in a clockwise rotation. 

Carrom – An Historic Game of Strategy 

So, that is a look at how you play Carrom. This historic Indian game can look a little intimidating at first but it’s much easier to get to grips with than you might think. A cross between snooker, pool, and checkers this game involves a lot of strategy. So, if you are looking to add a game of tactics and strategy to your next game night Carrom would be a fine choice. 

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