Games from Everywhere

Pachisi – Chaupar

The National Game of India

Games from Everywhere Histor y
Pachisi is a cross and circle board game that originated in ancient India; it is described as the national game of India. It is played on a board shaped like a symmetrical cross. A player's pieces move around the board based upon a throw of six or seven cowrie shells (a sea snail), with the number of shells landing opening upwards indicating the number of places to move. The name of the game comes from the Hindi word pachis, meaning twentyfive, the largest score that can be thrown with the cowrie shells. Thus the game is also known by the name Twenty-five. It is a descendant of the game of Ashte kashte. The westernised version of the game is spelled Parcheesi and otherwise called Ludo. The Indian Emperor Akbar I of the 16th century Mogul Empire, apparently played Chaupar on great courts constructed of inlaid marble. He would sit on a Dias four feet high in the centre of the court and throw the cowrie shells. On the red and white squares around him, 16 beautiful women from the harem, appropriately coloured, would move around according to his directions. Remains of these boards can be seen today in Agra and Allahabad. There is apparently a mention of Chaupar being played between two sets of princes - cousin brothers of the Bharata family (Pandavas and Kauravas) in the epic, Mahabharata. During this game the righteous Padavas lost the game and their entire fortune to the devious Kauravas, which put his family through a lot of hardship and suffering. This was ended by a great war among them which led to destruction of the Kauravas.


Games from Everywhere Rules
Pachisi is a game for four players, usually in two teams. One team has yellow and black pieces; the other team has red and green ones. The winners are those two people who both get their pieces to the finish first. Each player has four beehive-shaped pieces. The pieces of one player are distinguishable from another by their colour: black, green, red and yellow are used for each player. Six cowrie shells are used to determine the amount to move the players' pieces. They are thrown from the player's hand and the number of cowries which fall with their openings upwards indicate how many spaces the player may move: Cowries 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 25 10 2 3 4 5 6 Can choose to take another turn (called a grace) Can choose to take another turn (called a grace) Can choose to take another turn (called a grace)

There is a large square in the centre, called the Charkoni, which is the starting and finishing position of the pieces. The four arms are divided into three columns of eight squares. The players' pieces are moved along these columns of squares during play.


Games from Everywhere
Twelve squares are specially marked as castle squares. Four of these are positioned at the end of the middle columns of each arm; the other eight are four squares inwards from the end of the outer columns on each arm. A piece may not be captured by an opponent while it lies on a castle square.

Each player's objective is to move all four of their pieces completely around the board, counter-clockwise, before their opponents do. The pieces start and finish on the Charkoni. The playing order is decided by each player throwing the cowries. The player with the highest score starts, and turns continue counter-clockwise around the board. Each player's first piece may leave the Charkoni on any throw. Each player moves their pieces down the centre column of their own arm of the board, then counter-clockwise around the outside columns. A player may have any number of their pieces on the board at one time. One piece only may be moved with a single throw, or if the player chooses, they can decline to move any piece on a throw. If a 6, 10 or 25 is thrown, the player gets a grace. This enables them to introduce another of their pieces from the Charkoni onto the board, and they also get to repeat their turn. More than one piece of the same team may occupy a single square. However a piece may not move onto a castle square that is already occupied by an opponent's piece. If a piece lands on a square (other than a castle square) occupied by any number of the opponent's pieces, those pieces are captured and must return to the Charkoni. Captured pieces may only enter the game again with a grace throw. A player making a capture is allowed another turn.


Games from Everywhere
A piece completes its trip around the board by moving back up its central column. Returning pieces may be placed on their side in order to distinguish them from pieces that have just entered. A piece can only return to the Charkoni by a direct throw. Four of the castle squares are placed so that they are exactly 25 moves from the Charkoni. A common strategy is for returning pieces to stay on these squares, where they are safe from capture, until a 25 is thrown. Then they can finish the game directly. This is where the name of the game comes from – 25 or Pachisi!

Var iations
The rules to Pachisi itself vary from place to place. The rules given above are chosen from amongst variations to be the most straightforward. Here are some alternative rules that are commonly played. If the game seems too simple, Games from Everywhere recommends either using the last variation given to increase the skill level or alternatively, try Chaupar. • Seven cowry shells can be used instead of six. Different amounts can be allocated to the different permutations of cowries. Sometimes there are only 2 grace numbers - 10 and 25. Pieces can finish in the Charkoni only with a grace throw. A square occupied by two or more pieces cannot be passed by an opposing piece. This rule, which is possibly a non-Indian modern invention, naturally changes tactics significantly since, whereas in the basic rules outlined above it is inadvisable to put two pieces from the same side on the same square. Under this variation, putting two pieces from the same side together is a good defensive strategy. If three graces are thrown in a row, a penalty is forfeited.

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Games from Everywhere
The commonest penalty is for the turn to be missed, any pieces moved being returned. • Some versions play the grace throws differently. Instead of using the actual amount of 6, 10 and 25 to enter or re-enter a piece, the amount thrown can only be used to move a piece already on the board in the normal way. The grace is played separately and allows a single piece to be moved one square on the board or a single piece to be moved from the Charkoni onto the first square of the arm. Each turn consists of two parts - first the cowries are thrown one or more times according to the numbers thrown. And only once throwing is completed are the piece or pieces are moved according to the cowry throws. So, to begin a turn, the player throws the cowries. If a grace is thrown, the player is allowed another throw and so on until a 2, 3, 4 or 5 is thrown. Then, for each throw made, the player moves one piece as indicated by the amount on the cowries. So if three throws were made, the player might move: • • • 1 piece 3 times 1 piece twice and another once three pieces once each.


Games from Everywhere Chaupar
A very similar but more skilful, complex and older game game called Chausar, Chaupar or Chaupad also exists. This is the form of the game that the Emperor Akbar 1 of India would have played using slave girls for pieces in the sixteenth century and the game probably dates back to well before the time of Christ. Again, there are no standard rules, but Masters Games has compiled a typical set of rules that should be enjoyable. Play is the same as Pachisi with the following differences: • Three long dice are used instead of cowry shells. Each long die has 1 and 6 on opposing faces and 2 and 5. (or sometimes 3 and 4) on the other faces. There are no graces or extra throws. Castle squares are absent or, if played upon a Pachisi board, are ignored. Pieces start on specific squares instead of the Charkoni although captured pieces are returned to the Charkoni. To prepare to start the game, position each set of four pieces on squares 6, 7, 23 and 24 from the Charkoni. Pieces can be melded together to form a "super-pieces". If two pieces of the same shade land on the same space, then those pieces are lumped together and thereafter play as a single piece with double the power. Triple and quadruple pieces can be formed in the same way. Conglomerate pieces move using the throw of the dice as if they were a single piece. However, a double piece can only be captured by a double, triple or quadruple piece, a triple piece is only vulnerable to a triple or

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Games from Everywhere
quadruple piece and a quadruple piece can only be captured by another quadruple piece. • Each throw can be split into its constituent parts and shared across the pieces. For instance, if a 1, 2 and 6 is thrown, a player might choose to move one piece 9 squares or three pieces 1, 2 and 6 squares respectively. It would also be possible to move a piece 2 squares to form a double piece and then move the double piece 7 further squares, for instance. A throw cannot be passed in whole or part unless a player cannot move and an exact throw is required for a piece to get home. All the blacks must be got home before a yellow piece can go home. All the reds must be got home before a green piece can go home.

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Acknowledgement: Masters Games.


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