Guest Author - Nandini Tirumala
Carrom is a popular indoor game in India which is played by people of all ages. It is available in most toy stores and sports stores in India and can also be purchased online. It is fairly easy to learn with a simple set of rules. It is a perfect game for grandparents to bond with their grandchildren without having to run, catch or play outdoors. And above all can be an alternative if kids are spending too much time watching TV or playing computer and other video games.
Carrom is played on a square board made of plywood. It comes in different sizes to suit different age groups. The player flicks his finger with a round plastic disc (striker) on a coin (carrom men) to pocket it into one of the holes on the four corners of the board. There are a total of nine coins that each player has to pocket along with a red coin, called the queen to win the game. The game comes to an end when all the coins are cleared. The queen is the most powerful coin and when she is pocketed, another coin has to be pocketed following her. If the player fails to pocket another coin, the queen is placed back in the center. There are usually two colors, black and white for each team to pick and pocket.
There is also a different version, which is played a lot with young children in India, where any player can strike as many coins on the board irrespective of the color and whoever pockets the most coins gets the highest score (calculated based on the number of coins scored by each team and the value of the coins) and is declared as the winner. The game can be played with four players or with two players. If played as a team, members sit opposite to each other and strategize which coin they will be strike and what angles to choose for a favorable placement and eventually to pocket. There are some more versions which are played in different parts of the Indian subcontinent.
New skills and techniques to pocket the coins from various angles can be picked up by children when they play frequently. Children learn to handle wins and losses in a very caring, loving and non-competitive environment with their own and extended families.
In India, it is very common to see families, youth in street corners, students in college residences and hostels playing Carrom as a past-time activity. The game has gained recognition nation-wide with competitions and leagues at various levels to nourish and recognize the talent of players.
If you are planning a family get-together in India or abroad, a game of Carrom can come very handy to keep all the family members engaged, involved and ultimately bond on a hot, summer afternoon. Many families in India have a Carrom board which has been used by different generations and have many memories associated with it.