Pachisi

Pachisi


Pachisi is derived from the Hindi word ‘pachis’ which means ‘twenty-­ve’. Twenty-­ve is considered to be the largest score needed to win the game. Pachisi is believed to have originated many centuries ago. It is sometimes called the national game of India.
This is a four-player game that has many versions like, Ludo (UK), Parchis (Spain), Parcheesi (USA) and Uckers. A slightly complex version of Pachisi is called Chaupar. The game is also mentioned in the Mahabharata, where the Pandavas and the Kauravas play Chaupar/Chausar.
How is the game played?
The game is played on a board that is cross-shaped (i.e., having four arms). Each arm is divided into three columns of eight squares each. Three squares of each arm are marked and are known as castles. All four arms meet in the middle and this forms the ‘charkoni’ (a large square). Each player gets a set of four buttons or stones to play the game. A player begins the game by throwing six cowrie shells. The number of moves to be taken by a player depends on how the shells appear after being thrown – 2,3,4 or 5 cowries facing upwards indicate that the player must take 2,3,4 or 5 steps respectively. 6 cowries facing upwards indicates that the player must take six steps and a grace step. If only 1 cowrie faces upward, the player can take 10 steps and a grace step. If no cowries appear facing upwards, the player gets 25 steps and a grace step. These rules can vary from place to place. Players sitting opposite to each other are considered to be partners in this game. The fi­rst set of partners to travel around the board and re-enter the charkoni win the game.
Why should it be played?
Pachisi is a great game for teachers to bust stress. When the game is introduced to students, it will help them develop skills like strategy, tactics, counting and probability.
This article was originally published in TheTeacher.in magazine in the month of September, 2019.