The Rules of Carrom
Carrom or Karom is a game that has long been played throughout India and South East Asia but the game has become increasingly popular throughout much of the rest of the world during the last century. There are a huge number of variations in the rules even though an international regulatory body and several major national bodies exist - even these have rule variations depending upon the situation. Masters Games has based the following rules on those from the UK Carrom Club, tailoring them for simplicity where possible.
Note: 1 inch = 2.54cm.
The following dimensions vary considerably and are given only as an example of a tournament board. A Carrom board is a square smooth flat wooden board that can be 72cm or 74cm square and which should be positioned 60 - 70cm above the ground. In each corner is a circular hole that can be 51mm in diameter and underneath each hole is a net to catch the pieces in a similar way to a snooker table. Two lines are drawn on the table along the diagonals. These are the "foul lines". In the centre are two concentric circles - the centre circle is the size of a piece, the main circle having a diameter about six times larger. Outside the circles and a short way in from each side of the board are two straight lines parallel with the edge of the board. They should be about 3.8cm apart and the long thin area between them is terminated just before the diagonal foul lines at either end by a red circle of 3.8cm diameter. This thin rectangle with circles at either end is called the "baseline" and the baseline nearest to a player is the area that the player's striker must be played from.
There are nine dark or black pieces and nine light or white pieces plus a red piece called the "Queen". The smooth wooden pieces are slightly smaller than the the striker which is between 3.8cm and 4.4cm in diameter. People often own their own strikers which can also be made of bone or ivory and which are normally somewhat heavier than the pieces although can vary in weight from half as heavy to four times as heavy as a piece. On some boards, potato starch, chalk dust or other lubricant is used to make the pieces slide more easily over the surface of the board - the most popular lubricant is boric acid.
To decide who goes first, one player should hold a piece concealed in one hand. If the opponent guesses correctly which hand, the opponent chooses who goes first, otherwise the player concealing the piece chooses. The person who plays first aims to pocket the white pieces.
The game is played by two opponents sitting opposite each other. To begin, the Queen is placed in the centre of the board. Six pieces are put around the Queen directly in a circle, each touching the Queen and their neighbours. The remaining twelve pieces are positioned around the inner circle of six pieces, so that each outer piece touches the inner circle. Both circles should have the pieces alternating in colour. The two circles are oriented so that the Queen, a white piece from the inner circle and a white piece from the outer circle lie in a straight line pointing towards the centre of the side of the board where the player who will play first is sitting.
Players take turns to play. A turn consists of one or more strikes. A player wins by pocketing all of the pieces of their chosen colour first. However, neither player can win until one or other player has "covered the Queen". To cover the Queen, a player must pocket one of her own pieces immediately after pocketing the Queen. If the Queen is pocketed but not covered, the Queen is returned to the board. Both players normally try to cover the Queen in addition to trying to win the game because a player who wins and also covers the Queen receives bonus points.