Learn About the Game of Carrom

Introduction

A popular South Asian game that gained international fame and has become exceptionally popular during the pandemic. Among the checkerboards, Scrabble, chess, and the Monopoly box that’s missing parts, this game in many families’ collections sticks out from the rest. It’s not only because it’s the size of a small table. Carrom is a traditional board game that has enthralled players worldwide for many years and is frequently called the “strike and pocket” game. Carrom is a game that has its roots in the Indian subcontinent and blends shuffleboard and pool to produce a distinctive and exciting playing experience. 

Carrom has gained popularity for family get-togethers, social parties, and even competitive tournaments thanks to its straightforward yet addictive gameplay. Carrom provides countless hours of enjoyment and excitement, whether you’re a casual player looking for friendly competition or a serious enthusiast aiming for precision and strategy. This article will discuss everything you need to know about the game, from its distinctive features that set it apart from other board games to its rich history, different variations, how it is played, and some tips for winning it.

What is Carrom?

A wooden table topped with lots of buttons

The board game Carrom involves strategy, perseverance, and practice. Players of different ages and expertise levels can play it, from beginners to experts. Played on a square hardwood board that is approximately 29 inches long, Carrom is a tabletop game. The board is divided into a grid of smaller squares using lines drawn over the surface and has four pockets, one in each corner. Two to four players can participate in the game alone or as a team. 

Played on a table using tiny balls made of wood known as carrom coins, Carrom is a well-known board game in India. South Asian nations, particularly India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, are highly fond of this game. Playing at hotels and public spaces is quite prevalent in small towns and cities in these nations. Another well-liked game in homes is the game of Carrom. This game is not just played by males but also by women, kids, and girls. Playing Carrom at special occasions like weddings, birthday celebrations, Eids, and so forth is common.

Carrom is a board game that resembles billiards or snooker in some ways, but it is not played with balls and sticks. Around the world, the game is also known by various other names, including finger billiards, Carrom, couronne, carum, Karam, karom, and karum. The simplest carrom board rules are used by most beginning players. However, seasoned players and competitors adhere to the International Carrom Federation’s official professional Laws of the Carom Board Game. The goal of the game of Carrom is to strike and launch smaller discs, known as carrom men, into the pockets with a striker, which is a larger disc. Each player or team has a set of carrom men in various colors.

Players take turns flicking the Striker with their fingers to pocket their own carrom men into the corners and score points. Effective carrom men pocketing requires the utilization of angles, rebounds, and deflections. Carrom involves a blend of skill, accuracy, and strategic planning. Players must carefully plan their shots, considering their own and opponents’ carrom men’s placements. To create scoring opportunities, one might carefully position one’s carrom men and block an opponent’s shot.

History of Carrom

Carrom Board

Although numerous sources claim the game originated in India and Maharaja played it, the exact roots of Carrom—also known as Karam, kayrum, and carum—are unknown. Carrom is also credited as the inspiration for the Canadian game Crokinole, which calls for players to aim and fire disks across a wooden board. Carrom is thought to have originated in the Indian Maharajas region in the 18th century. One glass-surfaced carrom board is still available in Patiala, a city southeast of the Punjab region in Northwestern India. “Carrom” was mixed with the well-known English term “billiards,” which refers to games played with little balls on a rectangular table. The word “Carrom Billiards” was created by combining these two words, progressively gaining popularity. 

  Following the First World War, Carrom became more popular in the subcontinent, first as a fun hobby and then as a sport. By the late 1980s, the game was being played worldwide, including in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and other continents. Beginning in the 20th century, when state-level competitions were held among the many Indian states, the carrom game started to gain popularity. Since 1935, Sri Lanka has hosted national-level competitions for the game of Carrom, which has increased its appeal. The International Carrom Federation, or ICF, was established in the Indian city of Chennai in 1988. The same year saw the publication of the game’s official regulations. After the game’s official rules were developed, the Indian Diaspora introduced it to Europe, the US, and Canada. 

Allada Pavan and Shaik Husna Sameera from India broke a Texas record 2016 by playing a marathon game that lasted more than 34 hours. They did this to achieve a new Guinness World Record. To pass the time during the pandemic, fans oToCarrom have dusted off their old boards in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and India. There was a significant increase in demand for carrom sets at factories, some of which still hand-build and paint boards. The All-India Carrom Federation held even the first World Online Carrom Challenge, which drew competitors from the UK, Switzerland, Canada, and Sri Lanka. At present more than 50 countries play Carrom. 

Carrom Organizations Worldwide

 

As the game continued to be popularly played around the globe, many nations established carrom groups after 1950 to popularize the game; some of these organizations include:

1. International Carrom Federations (ICF)

  The International Carrom Federation was founded in October 1988 in Chennai, India. A worldwide carrom organization initially suggested in 1955 to promote the game. Still, it wasn’t until representatives from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Switzerland, India, and the Maldives gathered in Madras, India, that the organization took physical form. In 1988, the International Carrom Federation established global carrom regulations. Since its founding, it has begun to plan international carrom tournaments, including the ICF Cup in 1989, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2011, 2015, and 2019.

2. United Kingdom Carrom Federation (UKCF)

  In 1991, the United Kingdom Carrom Federation was established in London. The goal is to encourage UK carrom players to compete in carrom tournaments and promote the board game of Carrom throughout the United Kingdom. Carrom players from the UK excelled in several contests. Three international Euro Cups were held in England after the inception of this organization. Additionally, it regularly hosts a lot of competitions.

3. United States Carrom Association

  Billy Stevens established the United States Carrom Association in 1995. The US Carrom Association’s major goal is to spread awareness of the game in the United States. Billy Stevens was a fan of the Carrom game, and his major goal was to persuade Americans to participate in national or worldwide events organized by the International carrom federation. Numerous carrom events and tournaments are organized by it, including the World Cups in 1993, 2003, 2010, and 2015.

4. Pakistan Carrom Federation

A group of carrom enthusiasts founded the Pakistan Carrom Federation in 2004. To promote carrom games across Pakistan, they established clubs in various places. The Pakistani people’s enthusiasm for the carrom board was greatly influenced by PCF.

5. German Carrom Federation

  The German Carrom Federation was founded in 1986 to promote the carrom board in Germany. Travelers from Asia brought the game of Carrom to Europe. One of the Swiss tourists, Hans Petter Grimm, was among them and is credited with introducing the game of Carrom to Germany. The German Carrom Federation was subsequently founded by this administration to promote Carrom in Germany.

6. Italian Carrom Federation (ICF)

  The organization often hold little events and award prizes to the winners to spread awareness of the game of Carrom throughout Italy since its establishment in 1995. They also have volunteers who teach Carrom to interested players. They organize tournaments for all age groups and participate in various fairs and events throughout Italy with their voluntary collaborators. Since the Italian National Team competes in all major international competitions worldwide, their staff travels to clubs and playrooms throughout Italy to teach the game to new interested parties and, most importantly, to train. Official members of the organization benefit from playing, playing in all of the Federation’s tournaments, renting or purchasing used tables, and competing in tournaments worldwide. 

What do You need to Play Carrom?

Brown wooden barrels on white surface

Carrom is a reasonably portable and small game that can be played anywhere. It can be played inside, outside, or while traveling. Joining a carrom group is another way to socialize and play with others. Everywhere throughout the world, from Europe to the Far East, a wide variety of clubs exist. 

1. Carrom Board

Although a Carrom board can vary, the typical and most popular board is made of square-shaped made of wood with a flat surface. Each corner has a circular hole with a net underneath it, typically between 72 and 75 cm tall. Two lines are diagonally drawn on the board, called “foul lines.” Two circles, a small red circle and a bigger circle around it, are in the center of the table. There are also two lines outside the circles, one on each side of the board, parallel to the edge. These lines, when combined, form a thin rectangle with tiny red circles at each end. These establish a baseline that participants will use when playing. 

2. The Counters

It can be challenging to understand how to use each piece, contributing to Carrom’s rules’ complexity. Carrom Men, the Queen, and ultimately the Striker are the three groups into which the counters/pieces are divided.

3. Carrom men

On the board, there are 18 carrom men. Although there are many other color combinations, the most common color used is nine of the pieces will be black, and the other nine will be white. These little, round pieces are placed in the big circle in the center of the board.

4. The Queen

One of the most significant pieces in Carrom, similar to chess, is the Queen. The Carrom Men are the same shape as the Queen, typically red. The Queen is put in the small circle at the center of the board. The carrom men are placed around the Queen.

5. The Striker

These pieces, which each player has, are bigger and heavier than the Carrom Men. Striker pieces are also available with sets, but professional Carrom players typically have their own.

How to Play Carrom?

A man's hand resting on a board game

The game aims to use a plastic striker to push the light wooden discs, known as “carrom men,” into the four separate pockets on the four corners of the carrom board. Carrom is a game that can be played by two, three, or four people and may have inspired many current favorites like pool, snooker, and billiards. Like checkers, carrom pieces (coins) are “flicked” using the “striker,” which resembles the cue ball in the pool. On a hardwood board with four pockets, Carrom is played. The game’s goal is to sink all your pieces before your opponent sinks theirs. Points are gathered before the following round, known as a “board,” starts.

1. The General Objective of the Game

The goal of the game is to pocket the player’s Carrom Men. For instance, the goal of the player or team who got the black carrom men is to take the black pieces. However, not all the black or white pieces can be put in a pocket; at least one player must cover the Queen to win. Pocketing the Queen in the middle of the board is necessary, and the player who does so must also pocket one of their own pieces. The Queen will be back on the board if a player doesn’t accomplish this. You will receive more points if you are the first player to cover the Queen. 

2. Game Set Up

The first player is selected randomly, but mostly those who got the white pieces are the first. The Queen should be in the center of the board, surrounded by six pieces that alternate between black and white. In the next larger circle, twelve pieces should alternate between black and white. The first player puts their Striker after the board has been set up, and they have three chances to break the center circle. 

3. Striking the Pieces

The primary movement in Carrom is either striking or firing. Many guidelines can be followed when striking, but the most popular one is to flick one finger. The hole closest to the player is the only one where the striker piece may be placed.

The player must stay seated when they are striking. The diagonal lines on the board define a player’s quadrant, and the player must stay within that quadrant. This fictitious boundary should not be crossed by any other part of the body elbows are never allowed to rest on the board. The Striker’s position is anywhere within the rectangle formed by the baselines and the end circles. Both baselines must be touched by the Striker. But the Striker must not contact the corners’ diagonal lines.

Players flick the Striker in a variety of ways. You may use either your index or middle finger. Pick the option that seems most comfortable to you. Your hand’s palm should be on the board. Put your middle or index finger behind the Striker on your thumb. Use your thumb to exert some tension on your finger, then flick it out and strike the Striker to move it across the board. Curl your index finger over the tip of your thumb to use it as a gun. Apply pressure to your thumb to create resistance, then flick it out of the finger lock to strike the Striker.

Your index and middle fingers can simulate a pair of scissor blades by slightly crossing them over one another. Apply pressure with the top finger while keeping both fingers straight, then flick the bottom finger out in a scissor motion. A forward shot can also be made using this method. 

4. Committing Fouls and Penalties

A player’s turn is instantly forfeited after a foul, and the player who commits a foul also receives a penalty. A piece that has been pocketed and any additional pieces that need to be returned must be placed in the circle by the opponent as penalties. The following actions are considered fouls: touching any piece on the board other than the Striker; pocketing a striker; having any pieces leave the board; pocketing an opponent’s pieces; pocketing all the players’ pieces before the Queen is pocketed; pocketing the opponent’s final piece.

5. Scoring and Winning in the Game of Carrom

A point is awarded for each piece of your opponent’s that is still on the board in the score-based game of Carrom. You receive an additional five points as a bonus for covering the Queen. You are deemed the board’s winner if you have eliminated all your pieces by striking them into the pockets. Any player may successfully pocket their final piece to terminate the board when the Queen has been successfully pocketed. The board’s winner is this. The victor receives a point for each piece of their opponent’s not pocketed. The player who won and took the queen home receives an extra 5 points; otherwise, the Queen is not counted.

Different Types of Carrom

  Different places in the world play distinct kinds of carrom games. Several of them are recognized by the International Carrom Federation and the relevant continental Federations. The top carrom game varieties, as determined by the committee, are listed below.

1. Family Point Carrom

The earliest form of the game is connected to how people play Carrom at home because it was first developed as a family game. One of the most played varieties of Carrom is the Family-Point Carrom, sometimes called the Simple-Point Carrom. This variant’s key selling point is that it may be played even with an odd number of players. Family-point Carrom is incredibly well-liked in several regions of South Asia. This variation’s primary goal is to have fun and spend time with the family. There is no restriction on which color disks you must pocket in this game; the player receives 5 points for each black disk your pocket, 10 points for each white disk, and 25 points if you cover the Queen. The Carom board game is finally won by the player with the most points. It is possible to play this game alone or in pairs.

2. Total Point Carrom

When playing Carrom in India on a real board, you are playing the total point version of the game. All players can pocket any pieces in the fun and energetic carrom game, Total point. The value of each white carrom man is 10, whereas the value of each black man is 5. The red Queen is worth 50 points, and after being pocketed, it must be covered by a carrom man. The Queen is on top, and the nine white and black Carrom men are all positioned in the middle of the board at the start of the game. 

A player continues to strike until the carrom men are in his possession. If a player fails to successfully pocket a card, another player will get the chance. The person with the most points at the end of each round wins. In the following round, the player with the fewest carrom men should place all the carrom men on the board. Additionally, each participant should place an equal number of carrom men as the player with the fewest. The game continues until one of the players captures every carrom man on the board.

3. Point Carrom

Compared to the family point carrom, you will receive 1 point for each of the black and white disks in this game, as opposed to 3 points for covering the Queen. The person who earns 25 points is deemed the winner, and if there is a tie for first place, the player with the most points is pronounced the winner. In the event of a tie, the game is decided by a tiebreaker in which players can select two alternative numbers of disks and only need to pocket them on rebounds.

4. Black and White Carrom or Professional Carrom

All players in these kinds of carrom games are given a color—either black or white—and are only allowed to receive pocket pucks of that color. In both the UK and India, the regulations are frequently followed. There are 29 possible points in the game; however, once a player gets 21 points, they can no longer cover the Queen for more points. Any time before the last puck can be used to pocket the Queen. The catch is that you cannot put a queen and a cover in the same pocket. The winner earns one point for each puck of the losing team and three points if they cover the Queen.

5. Carrom Billiards

It is a type of pool played with three balls—two white and one red—on a table without pockets. A white ball has a spot on it. The table for this game has three spots: one at the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. It has no pockets. The game is also known as French billiards or carambola billiards because it was invented in France in the 18th century. This kind of pool is increasingly popular in Europe and Asia, particularly in Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam. The popularity of this game is lower in the United States.

Conclusion

Carrom is a multifaceted and captivating board game that has enthralled players worldwide. Carrom offers hours of entertaining and strategic gameplay, whether played in conventional form or through many adaptations and variations. Carrom suits players of all ages and skill levels since it involves skill, precision, and strategy. It encourages spatial awareness, tactical thinking, and hand-eye coordination. 

There is no way that someone could not have heard of Carrom, a well-known board game in India. Carrom was a necessary component of summer vacations, family get-togethers, and social events for many years. The carrom game has several varieties and is frequently played on internet gaming platforms because of technological developments. Online carrom games promise entertainment even though the rules and gameplay slightly differ. Many players compete in carrom tournaments, which are also highly popular in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.