What is Carrom?
Carrom is a unique indoor game, which resembles a combination of pool and air hockey. It is a popular indoor family game in the Asian and the European countries, and the popularity induces many variations of the game. The carrom board game involves a square wooden board with four corner sockets (pockets) and a striker-piece, which is flicked towards target pieces known as carrom-men.
The goal of this game is to collect points by sinking the nine carrom “men” (whatever color you choose; white or black) followed by the queen-coin before your opponent. Carrom is very popular because unlike other indoor games; it does not require a dice.
This game involves both physical and mental skills to win, just like billiards, pool game, marbles, and air hockey. It is effortless to understand and equally entertaining to play. A maximum of 4 and a minimum of 2 people can play this game and also called as Finger Board.
Here are the fundamental and the only accessories you need to play carrom:
1. Carrom Board
The carrom board is a square plywood board fixed with a wooden frame and four netted sockets on each corner. The playing surface of the board is a square plywood board with specific patterns on it. The plywood is a polished, smooth surface with little friction. This smooth surface allows the coins to move around freely.
The standard carrom board size is 74 cm x 74 cm, which is 29” square. But there are smaller sizes too, which are suitable for children and larger sizes for the people who are familiar with the game and want to try out something different and challenging.
Many carrom boards come with varying borders and frame widths; these range from 1.25” (about 32 mm) to 3.00” (about 75 mm). The thicker and heavier carrom boards are a little pricey but are the best boards to play on due to better cannon effect and rebound factor.
The four corner sockets or holes on each corner of the board are netted underneath to contain the carrom-men or striker. The carrom board is supported by wooden bracings that are secured to both the borders and the plywood.
2. Carrom Men
Carrom men are the nineteen, soft wooden or acrylic discs. There are nine white coins and nine black coins, and an additional red coin called the Queen. The wooden carrom men have been used since the inception of the game and a standard accessory of the game. Recently, acrylic alternatives have gained popularity since they are lighter and smoother.
There is a significant difference in the gameplay with the wooden ones and the acrylic ones. While the wooden ones will be easier to control and manipulate, the acrylic ones are less abrasive and glide better than the wooden ones on the carrom board.
3. Carrom Striker
The carrom striker is an acrylic disc that is larger and heavier than the coins, and it is used to “strike” the coins into the pockets. There are plenty of strikers available. Although one can always choose a striker that looks good, it is always important to pick a striker that is of good quality, is not lightweight, has a smooth surface, and provides high impact.
4. Carrom Powder
The carrom powder is yet another essential accessory for the game. This powder is sprinkled on the board’s surface to reduce the friction between the coins and the board. The smoother the board is, the better the coins glide.
There are two types of carrom powders available. The traditional powder is a powder-based on boric acid, which reduces some friction. Then there are Teflon and Disco powders, which enhance the performance exponentially. The difference between boric powder and Disco is that boric powder reduces friction, whereas Disco powder comprises microspheres that work like rollers. Disco powder increases the speed better than boric powder, but since it is an abrasive of sorts, it has the potential to damage the carrom board.
Hence, it is advisable to use small amounts of either boric or disco powder before every game, but never use two different powders at the same time.
How to Play Carrom?
The overall objective of carrom is to flick the striker with your finger to hit the carrom men into the corner sockets. The player who pockets all nine coins, along with the queen first is the winner of the game. Carrom seems like an easy game, but in reality, it requires a lot of concentration, practice, precision n, and a good sense of common physics.
Glimpse of the Game
To get the gist of the game, let us assume there are two teams playing carrom. The team that wins the toss would choose their option of side or striking. Once the team has done the first strike, they decide one color of the carrom men, and this is the only color coins they are allowed to pot.
So, the first team would only gain points when they strike the white one, whereas the other team only has to strike the black carrom men. If one team is successful in scoring while striking, they get another turn to score. If they are unable to score the first time, the next player gets a turn and the turns circulate in an anti-clockwise manner.
While striking, the players should ensure that their playing arm is resting on the board (border) and no other body part should come in contact with the board. The player should not touch the plywood with his/her bare hands. While striking, players should position their sticker on the baseline and should strike in one try. If the player jerks the board while striking that turn is considered a foul.
The first break is rather strange. Here, the opponent would not get an opportunity to strike if the player who breaks or strikes does not get a carrom man in a pocket.
The stiker should always be on the baseline while no other imaginary line should be in contact with the stiker during the gameplay.
Even when positioning the stiker, it should not touch any other lines on the board.
The cumulative points on the board game are 25. So, the player cannot rely on the queen for getting 21 points or above directly. Any player who gets 25 points first is the winner.
There is a time limit to take a strike. Usually it is 10 seconds, but many consider giving 15 seconds for a shot as well. After 15 seconds, the opponent directly gets the striker.
Just like innings or sets, there are 8 boards played. A player who scores 25 first wins one board. But the person with the maximum number of points at the end of 8 boards will win the game.
It is compulsory to finish all 8 boards within 25 minutes from the start to end. If the time runs out, the player with the most number of points when the time stops wins.
Any foul committed by a player would mean a due or a penalty of carrom men. Here are a few scenarios which are considered a punishment.
If a player disturbs the carrom board by touching idle carrom men during the game a foul. The player will be charged one carrom man.
If a carrom man flies off the board while a player is striking, then that player loses that turn.
A stiker should always be striked or flicked. If it is seen being pushed to get points, then the player would lose the carrom man netted with the push and that turn to play.
If the player strikes the striker alone, then it is a foul and the player loses that turn. But if the player scores and then hits the striker in the same turn, then he loses the carrom man, and his turn.
It is a foul when the queen is striked in the first corner.
Here are a few popular carrom tricks that can help you compete:
1. The Side shot
This shot is used to hit a carrom man away from your competitors direction and into a pocket. In this shot you must hit the striker on the opposite side of your board, so that it rebounds and hits the carrom man in the direction of your opponent's pocket.
2. The Middle shot
The Middle shot is a skillful trick that comes with practice. This can only be played in the beginning of the game. When you are about to break the carrom men (when all the carrom men are placed at the centre of the board) you have to navigate your shot between two carrom men carefully. When you hit precisely between the two carrom men, they would hit adjacent carrom men in their respective direction.
With enough practice, you might be able to score two carrom men in two pockets as soon as you break.
3. The Cut and Take
This shot is played when you have to cut or redirect the carrom men in a different direction that it would go from a regular shot. This can be done without a rebound specifically. All you need to master here is the angle of the striker.
Once you get the physics behind this, it'll get easier to cut and take points easily.
4. The Thumb Shot
This is another typical shot that gets you to pocket any carrom man in your opponent's direction. When your finger starts hurting and you would want to change things up a bit, you can use your thumb to make some trick shots.
For this shot you must form a circle with your thumb and index finger, pull your thumb outward with the index finger blocking it to gain some force. One you release the index finger your thumb will hit the striker with a massive force. This is a powerful and effective technique.
5. The Alley Oop
This is a trick shot that works only when you are playing doubles. Teamwork is key here and if you get this right, winning would be a piece of cake. The strategy here is to hit as many carrom men near the pockets of your teammate.
Once you place coins on that area one by one, it becomes easier for your teammate to score. But be careful before using it again and again, it might alert your opponents, and they would start blocking your shots.
How to Choose the Right Carrom Board?
The carrom board is one of the most important parts of your gaming experience, hence before randomly choosing a board you must consider some important aspects:
- The carrom boards surface has to be as flat as possible. Cheap boards that are made up of thin plywood rarely offer flatness. These boards are the ones that wear out soon as well. The playing surface has to be smooth without the powder, with no irregularities and no bumps. These are the carom boards which are sold mostly during pandemic and you will find some sites claiming that we sold so much quantity during lockdown.
- The next aspect to consider is the corner pockets. These pockets must be large and round enough for the striker to fall in (but not too large). Sometimes, low budget ones have small and inconsistent pockets. Make sure all the pockets have a radius of 3 cm at least.
- Thicker frames give better rebounds and stability to shots. Carrom boards with a polished wooden frame give the best possible performance.
- Make sure that the carrom board is not shaking when placed on a table or the ground. The board should have a firm base. Or you can use a good quality carrom board stand which can handle heavy quality carrrom boards.
How to Clean A Carrom Board?
Cleaning a carrom board from time to time can increase your board life. Many times, the powder gets stuck in some places. This gets annoying and if not cleaned can worsen the condition of the carrom board.
- Clean the carrom board with cigarette paper properly. Make sure you can cover all the corners and edges.
- Once you have gotten all the minute particles out of their crevesses, take a soft cloth and make sure it is a little damp (not too wet). Wipe the board clean with the damp cloth.
- Wipe with a dry cloth again and cover the carrom board. Leaving the carrom board open can lead to a lot of wear and tear.
- Before using the carrom board, take some boric powder to reduce its friction.
Carrom is indeed a fun indoor family game. Just like any other sport, it does get plenty competitive. Though it has a board carrom, unlike any other board game. With the right patience, practice and concentration one can master this sport. Carrom does not require luck, but skill. Before choosing a carrom board make sure you pick the right size and the right powder.