How to play Carrom Indian Billiards?


What is Carrom?

Also known as Indian billiards or Indian billiards is a table game similar to billiards very widespread in India, in which 2 or four players face each other.

It is a combination of billiards, marbles and air field hockey, the “international standard” carrom is to its American derivative what snooker is to billiards with rails.

How to play?

It uses a square wooden board (29 inches x 29 inches) with four pockets in the corners, and is played by hitting pieces resembling black and white checkers with a “striker”.

The object is to sink your nine pieces, plus the red “queen”, into the pockets first, and thus accumulate points.

Although the geometry is the same as that of billiards and “American carrom,” the physics and strategy are fascinatingly different.

The playing surface of an ICF (The International Carrom Federation) regulation board is extremely smooth, making it a game of touch that demands a high degree of finesse.

The frame is thick and hard, which gives a strong rebound that provides additional fast action.

In addition, the striker, which is always returned to the “baseline” for the next shot, is approximately three times heavier than the target pieces.

This greater mass allows for a wide variety of “board management” techniques (the strategy of preparing future shots while disrupting the opponent’s) and extremely complex plays.

How to place the pieces on the board?

Arrange the carrom checkers in the center circle of the carrom board as shown in the illustration below, with the red “queen” in the center. The targets should be lined up to form a “Y”, with two sides pointing directly toward the corner pockets.

Each player sits on his side of the board and can only hit from that side.

The contestant who plays white “breaks” or plays first, which is decided by flipping a coin.

The object of the carrom game is to sink all of your carrommen, using the heaviest “striker”, into any of the pockets before your opponent.

Your turn continues as long as you keep sinking your carrom tokens – lucky throws count and all combinations are allowed.

When placing the striker on the board to shoot, you must touch both “baselines”, either covering the end circle completely, or not touching it at all.

The striker cannot touch the diagonal arrow line.

Correct placement
Incorrect placement

Shooting styles are very personal: whatever “grip” works for you is fine, as long as you “move” the firing pin and don’t push it.

In general, it is best to orient your body to see the aiming line while shooting comfortably; do not move or leave your chair.

Index finger placement
Middle finger placement

For forward firing, you can use your index finger, middle finger or even the “scissors” pull.

Before firing, try touching the firing pin with your fingernail to make sure it is actually in line. This will improve your accuracy and prevent you from injuring your finger.

Thumb shot
Scissors style shot

Only the thumb or scissors technique may be used for “back shots”.

No part of your body, except your hand, may cross the imaginary diagonal line nor may your elbow protrude from the square in front of you. Not even your feet or knees may leave your quadrant.

Incorrect arm position

The red “queen” may be pocketed at any time after sinking your first piece, but must be sunk before the last piece.

After pocketing the queen, you must pocket one of your carrom players, “covering” it, in any pocket on the next roll, or it will be returned to the center spot.

Once the queen is covered, whoever first eliminates all his carrom players wins the “board”.

The winner of a board collects one point for each opponent’s carrom man left at the end and three points for the queen if it is covered by the winner (if it is covered by the loser, no one gets those points).

No more points are collected for the queen after her score reaches 22.

A game consists of 25 points or eight boards, whichever comes first.

Various rules

  • Sinking the striker costs you a piece and your turn. But, if you sink a piece in the same shot, then you get two pieces and shoot again.
  • After sinking the striker, your opponent places the required piece(s) inside the center circle. If you have not yet sunk any, you owe one.
  • If when shooting for the queen you also sink one of your pieces, the queen is automatically covered, no matter which came first.
  • If a piece jumps off the board, it is placed on the center point. If pieces fall to the end or overlap, they are left that way.
  • If the center point is partially covered when replacing the queen or a jumped piece, the piece should cover as much red as possible. If it is fully covered, the piece is placed in front of the next player behind the red point.
  • If you sink your opponent’s piece, you lose your turn. If you sink their last piece, you lose the board and three points.
  • If you sink their last piece before the queen, you lose the board, three points and one point for each remaining opponent’s piece.
  • If the attacker does not leave the two lines, try again. You have three attempts to break before you lose your turn.

The Carrom grip

Probably the most important aspect of a player’s game is his or her grip.

Having a proper grip is essential to maintaining consistency and accuracy in the stroke.

Here we will examine some of the basic grip configurations and discuss their advantages and disadvantages.

The straight grip

The straight grip, in some form, is probably the most commonly used grip on the carrom today.

For the straight grip, the hand is held palm down, with the fingertips resting lightly on the carrom board.

The wrist rests on the frame of the board.

The shot is made with the index finger (or sometimes the middle finger) with a simple forward “push” of the finger.

Many players find that if they hold the striker between the thumb and third finger (as shown in the photo), and release the striker when they are making the shot, it adds greater stability and greater accuracy to their shot.

The straight grip

A common mistake beginners make is to “tie” their index finger behind the tip of their thumb, and then release the finger violently, “tapping” the striker with the tip of their finger.

This can have a painful result and, more importantly, it is very difficult to maintain accuracy when making the shot this way.

A better approach is to rest the index finger lightly on the wagon board, directly behind and touching the striker, and make the shot with a slight “push” of the finger, rather than a “thump”.

This approach will result in greater accuracy and a more enjoyable playing experience.

Here we will examine some of the basic grip configurations and discuss their advantages and disadvantages.

The scissors grip

The other, less common, grip used for forward shots is known as the “scissors” grip.

This grip is best understood by looking at the photo.

The scissors grip

In the scissors grip, the stroke is made with the middle finger, which is placed horizontally on the carrom board, perpendicular to the intended path of the striker.

The index finger rests on top of the middle finger, holding it back until the moment of release, which provides a “snap” that can create great power when performed correctly.

As a result, many players who use the straight grip for their normal strokes have been known to use the scissors grip when breaking.

The advantage of the scissors grip, in addition to the greater power, is (at least in theory) that the finger, while resting at right angles to the path of the shot, has a better chance, in the arc of its travel, of propelling the stroke in the proper direction.

One can imagine, for example, that when making a shot with a straight grip, the striker may tend to “roll” on one side of the fingernail or the other, due to the roundness of the fingernail.


The most important thing is that the player feels “at home” with the grip he/she has chosen.

It is important that the position feels fairly stable, and at the same time that the player feels relaxed.

If he doesn’t feel comfortable walking up to the striker and hitting his normal stroke, he may want to experiment with another grip.

And, like everything else, practice is the only way to really achieve the result you want!

Are there competitions?

The fledgling U.S. Carrom Association (U.S.C.A.) is trying to introduce carrom racing to the United States.

Through television, the U.S.C.A. hopes to attract sponsors by creating sports coverage and video documentation of an international competition.

To this end, the USCA organizes and participates in events on a national and international level.

As early as 1996, the USCA organized the first U.S. International Open Carrom Tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Teams from eleven countries in South Asia, Europe and North America participated, with men and women competing equally for the first time in an ICF-sanctioned event.

Article written by Dave from the official site

Carrom boards and accessories

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