Traditional Board Games

Bagh Guti

Bagh Guti is a hunt game played on a square board. Two tigers come face to face with twenty goats. What makes this game unusual is that the goats begin the game stacked up on four points; most games of this type do not allow stacking. The tigers in this game have to eat the goats, while the goats have to block the tigers preventing them from moving.

History of Bagh Guti

There is a large and varied class of hunt games, called tiger games, from south east Asia. They are all played on square boards, and feature one or more tigers against a number of hunters.

Bagh guti is one such game, and it comes from India. Its antiquity is unknown; western accounts of the game date from 1906. It is particularly interesting as, unlike many other games of this type, multiple pieces are initially stacked upon a point.

Rules for Bagh Guti

Rules for Bagh Guti
There are slight variations in the play of this game, account of which is taken in these rules.

1. Bagh guti is played on an alquerque board, that is, a board of 25 points, arranged on five lines by five, with some of the diagonals marked.

2. One player takes the part of the two tigers, which are initially placed on the squares shown. The other takes the part of 20 goats, stacked in four piles of five as shown in the diagram.

3. The tigers take the first move, then the goats, play alternating thereafter until the game is ended.

4. Each player in his turn may move any one of this pieces.

5. A piece may move along a marked line to an adjacent empty point.

6. The piles of goats can therefore be unstacked, but cannot be re-stacked again.

7. A tiger can capture a single goat by jumping over it, along a marked line, onto the empty point beyond. The goat is then removed from the board.

8. If the tiger jumps over a stack of goats, only the topmost goat is removed.

9. Goats cannot capture the tigers.

10. The goats win the game by trapping both the tigers so that they cannot move.

11. The tigers win the game by capturing so many goats that their task becomes impossible.

The rule which allows the tigers the first move is arbitrary, and is not listed in the original sources. Players may like to try playing the game with the first move given to the goats instead.

There is also a variation on the game, sometimes called bagh bandi, in which there are no diagonal lines along the board. Movement is more restricted on this board, but the openings are more varied as the tigers are not given an immediate capture at the start of the game.


Yours is the first description I've seen of a tiger-hunt-with-stacked-goats that actually produces a viable game! I've tried other versions where, thanks to the starting position and/or capturing rules, the goats are inevitably massacred within a dozen moves. I prefer your rules with goats to move first- the opening is still white-knuckle stuff for the goat player, but with good strategy they stand a decent chance of winning. I suspect that there are a lot of genuine variants across South Asia, but many English accounts have either been incomplete or have tried to plug gaps in older accounts by merging them without thinking through the consequences. Thank you for this!

David Breslin - 20:59, 08/07/2018

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