Now that I am at home and my granny is here too, one thing I wanted to do was re-discover some childhood joys in the form of the games that we used to play as children – one of this was Chauka-baara – the very own desi version of Ludo you could say. It is a game that can be played by a minimum of 2 players and a maximum of 4 players and can be played in 2 versions – one shorter version with just the inner 5 X 5 matrix of squares and the longer version with the bigger 7 X 7 matrix of squares. The game is accordingly played with 4 kavade (small conch shells – the desi form of the dice) or 6 kavade in the respective versions. The score is counted by the number of shells which lie with their open face up when all of them are tossed together. All shells with their open sides up is a chauka – amounting to 4 in the shorter version and 6 in the longer version, while all shells with their closed side up is a baara – amounting to 8 in the shorter version and 12 in the longer version. That’s how the game gets its name!
The game is most exciting when played in the longer version with all 4 participants – that’s when there’s lot of fun and competition involved. Everybody takes turns tossing the shells and get started by moving their respective coins from their home squares. The individual path to be followed is as shown in the picture – each participant takes a complete peripheral path before they can get into the inner square. But there is one catch – each has to kill any one of the other’s coins to be able to get inside – this happens when someone’s else’s coin is in a square and you get the required count during your turn to take your coin to the same square – you then kill that person’s coin and that is replaced to his home square. Then again the squares with the crosses are the resting squares where nobody can kill each other’s coins – all the participants’ coins can rest in these crossed squares. Confusing? Not really! 🙂
Once you have made the maiden kill then it is easy – you just concentrate on getting all your coins into the inner square, following the path mentioned and reaching the Goal square – marked in green. What makes the game interesting is when everybody has had their maiden kills and can get inside – the game really heats up then – there will be a spree of killings and getting the ready-to-reach-goal coins to go back to their home squares! 😀 There can be another interesting twist to the game – once you reach the innermost 3X3 square (I’m not quite sure if it is the inner 5X5 square or the innermost 3X3 square – anyone with the correct info – pliss to correct me!) and you happen to get 2 of your coins into the same square and you score a 2 on your next turn, you can bind them together (gaTTi) – from there on they will move together but only on scores of 2 or multiples of 2. And of course now your rival’s coin can actually stay in the same square as your bonded coins, but the moment you score a 2 – dishkyoom!, you can make the kill! 😀
The participant who manages to take all his coins from his home square to the Goal square first amidst all this drama, is of course the winner! The others can continue to play till just one last fellow is left who is the loser. Well, I suppose I have covered all aspects of this particular game here – any of you readers remember anything else differently – do share it with me! 🙂