Carrom is a board game that brings together a combination of air hockey, marbles and pool. The playing surface of a carrom board is extremely smooth, and the striker is about three times heavier than the object pieces, making carrom a touch game requiring a great amount of finesse. Players must balance board management techniques by sinking shots, setting up future shots and blocking opponents' shots, creating an extremely complex variety of possible plays.
Carrom is played on an extremely smooth and flat wooden board. Two concentric circles are drawn at the center of the carrom board. At each corner of the square board there is a small circular pocket that projects inwardly on the board, rather than outwardly like a pool table. Two lines run parallel to each edge of the board, with the line that is closer to the edge being slightly thicker than the other. One foul line arrow, originating near the larger center circle, points to each pocket on the board.
Carrom is played with small, circular pieces of wood called carrommen. At the beginning of a carrom game, there are nine dark or black carrommen, nine light or white carrommen, and one red disk called the queen. Players use a smooth round disk, which is almost three times heavier than the normal carrommen, called a striker to hit the carrommen and sink them in the pockets.
At the beginning of a carrom game, the queen is placed at the center of the board. Directly touching the queen, three light and three dark carrommen are placed around the red disk in alternating colors. The remaining six light and six dark pieces are placed in a second circle directly touching the first. The second circle also uses alternating colors. The two circles are then lined up such that the queen, a light piece from the inner circle and a light piece from the outer circle lie in a line pointing toward the middle of the edge of the board across from the side of the player who goes first.
When a player flicks her striker toward the other carrommen in the attempt to sink a shot, it is called a strike. When placing the striker on the board to strike, the player must position the striker so it touches both baselines. The striker must be struck in such a way that it crosses the front baseline; it must not go backward or horizontally. A striker may only touch a piece that is behind the baseline after the striker has crossed the baseline once, and the player's hand or arm must not cross the diagonal foul lines when shooting.
Neither player can win a game of carrom until either of the players has covered the queen. The queen is covered when a player pockets any of his own pieces the turn after he pockets the Queen. If a player makes the queen but does not sink a carrommen on the next turn, the queen is returned to the center of the table. A player wins a carrom game by sinking all of the pieces of her particular color, but players can only win after the queen has been covered. If a player covers the queen and sinks all of his carromen pieces first, then he receives bonus points at the end of the round.
Bryan Perkins is a writer from Baton Rouge, La. His work appears in various online publications, covering topics related to science. Perkins holds a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Louisiana State University.