The Art of Carrom

Carrom or Karom is a game which has its roots in 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 many variations in the rules even though there is now an international regulatory body – even this has rule variations depending upon the situation.

The tabletop game is believed to have originated from the Indian subcontinent. Little is known about the game’s exact origins prior to the 19th century but it is believed that it has been played in various forms possibly since antiquity. There is a theory that carrom was invented by the Indian Maharajas.

Most casual players would find the following simplified carrom rules quite useful to get started with the game. However, the formal professional Laws of Carrom adopted by the International Carrom Federation are also available if required..

Generally speaking, two or four people can play carrom. If two, the players sit opposite each other, while with four, the opposite two are partners. As an exception, though, you can play with three players against each other for points.


Carrom Board

Arrange the carrom men on the centre circle of the carrom board as shown in the following illustration, with the red ‘queen’ at the centre. The whites should be lined up to form a “Y” shape, with two sides aiming directly towards the corner pockets.

Carrom Men Arrangement

Each player sits on his side of the board and can only strike from that side. The contestant playing white ‘breaks’ or plays first, which can be decided by the toss of a coin. The object of the game of carrom is to sink all of your carrom-men, using the heavier ‘striker’, in any of the pockets before your opponent. Your turn continues as long as you keep sinking your carrom men – luck shots count and all combinations are permitted.

When placing the striker on the board to shoot, it must touch both ‘base lines’, either covering the end circle completely, or not touching it at all. The striker may not touch the diagonal arrow line.

Correct Striker Placement
Incorrect Striker Placement
Incorrect Striker Placement
Index Finger
Index Finger
Middle Finger
Middle Finger

Shooting styles are very personal – whichever ‘grip’ works for you is fine as long as you ‘flick’ the striker and don’t push it. Generally, it’s best to orient your body in order to see the line of your aim while shooting comfortably; you may not move or leave your chair.

Scissors Shot
Scissors Shot
Thumb Shot
Thumb Shot

For forward shots, you can use your index finger, middle finger, or even the ‘scissors’ shot. Before shooting, try touching the striker with your fingernail, to be sure that its really on line. This will improve your accuracy and prevent you from hurting your finger.

For ‘back-shots’ you may only use your thumb or the scissors technique.

We sell a number of ethically traded carrom boards and accessories which we sourced from small workshops when travelling in India. See the links throughout the blog, or explore here.

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