A Burmese Carrom fan abroad reached out to us recently seeking rules clarification & game pieces. Researching for his query makes us feel nostalgic for our childhood memories of playing it with our cousins & neighbor kids. So here it is.
The game is called ဇယ်ခုံ /ze khoun/ or လက်တောက်ခုံ /lat tout khoun/ in Burmese. This is a dexterity game of skill. Depending on the people who introduced the game, it could be played in many ways. Carrom is just like a deck of cards. The game is limited only by your imagination. We also played with many house rules during our childhood.
Burmese Carrom includes a square wooden board, 19 numbered circular pieces (ဇယ် ‘ze’ / carrom) in 3 different colors (eg. 1-9 yellows, 10-18 blues & 19 whites) & a bigger circular piece (ဒိုး ‘doe’ / striker). It’s usually played by 2 to 4 players or solo.
Shooting rules are basically the same as Carrom & you score by striking the pieces into one of the four pockets. When you score, you get another turn. Following are the 3 most common ways to play this game.
Collect as many pieces as you could (“19” being the last one to score). Each piece you collect is worth 1 point & “19”, 2. Highest scoring player wins. If you accidentally score “19” before the others, both “19” & one of your collected pieces are placed back to the center. *Variant: All 1 to 19 pieces must be scored only in order. Otherwise, it must be put back in the center.
Each player/team draws a random number between 1-19 & be the 1st player/team that scores all drawn number/s. (When other players find out which number you are chasing, they might try to block you.) If you score any other piece, place it back in the center. *Variant: More than 1 piece may be drawn for a longer game.
Each team (2vs2 or 1vs1) tries to score all pieces of their color (1-9 yellows or 10-18 blues). Once all 9 pieces of your team color are scored, go for “19”. The team that scores “19” first wins.
Note: If you’d like to increase the difficulty of the game, here’s a variant. To score, the striker or the carrom piece must bounce at least 1 border before entering one of the pockets. Otherwise, it must be put back in the center. You may apply this rule only to “19” or all pieces. This is a real game changer.
How do you play Carrom? Let us know if your rules are any different from the ones mentioned here.
Would you like a Carrom board at SPACE 17? Vote “Yay” or “Nay”.