Introduction to the Game of Carrom

Posted: February 17, 2010 – 7:08 pm

The game of Carrom, often described as finger billiards, is an indoor game played on tabletop. This game has a strikingly similarity with other table top games like table shuffleboard and billiards.  The details about the origin of this game is hazy although some sources claim this game of Carrom has an Indian origin, while others say that it has a Chinese origin.

The basic item needed to play a game of Carrom is plain plywood board which is square in shape and about 74 centimeters or 29 inches. The playing board is framed on all four sides with wood bumpers. Here unlike balls used in billiards, wooden disks are used. The disks are called as Carrom coins or Carrom Men. There are four different color coins – black, white, red and a striker. The aim of the game is to strike the coins with the help of the striker and push them to fall into the corner pockets. The red colored coin is called the ‘queen’. Carrom can be played with two to four players.

A carrom-man is a usually wooden or sometimes plastic, uniform small disk. The Carrom-men have a smooth movement in a flat position on the surface of the carrom board when hit by a striker of standard specification. The carrom-men traditionally come in two colors – black and white – denoting the two players or in doubles play, the opposing teams. The opener always plays white. An additional, special carrom-man is colored red and called the “queen”. The accepted specifications for Carrom Men are – diameter of not more than 3.18 cm and no less than 3.02 cm, and thickness must be between 7 mm and 9 mm, with a weight of 5 to 5.5 g.

The dimensions of the queen must be the same as those of the other carrom-men.The queen is the most powerful carrom piece and usually red in color. It is placed at the center of the circle. If a player wins the board with the queen, this adds five queen points to the player’s total score. A player pockets the queen and to cover it provided a carrom-man of the player’s own has already been pocketed.

The striker is a larger and relatively heavier disk, flicked with the finger to hit the carrom-men and knock them into the corner pockets. The striker has to be smooth and round, with a diameter not more than 4.13 cm. Its weight should not be more than 15 grams.

High quality powder, most commonly boric acid powder is used on the board to enable the pieces to slide easily. In the UK and other European countries, many players use a version of spray powder from the printing industry which is made from pure, food-grade vegetable starch.

The rules of the game are promulgated by the India-based International Carrom federation. The organisation also ranks players, sanctions tournaments and presents awards, and has many international affiliates.

The aim of the game is to pocket one’s own nine carrom men before one’s opponent pockets his. However, before sinking one’s final carrom man, the queen must be pocketed and then “covered” by pocketing one of one’s own carrom men on the same or subsequent strike. Fouls, such as crossing the diagonal lines on the board with any part of one’s body, or potting the striker, lead to carrom men being returned to the board. The player is allowed to shoot with any finger, including the thumb known as thumbing.

Sarah Johns

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