Cyningstan

Traditional Board Games

Chaupar

Shiva and Parvati playing chaupar, a relative of pachisi.
Shiva and Parvati playing chaupar, a relative of pachisi.

Also known as chausar or chaupad, this game has many similarities to the more well-known pachisi.  A cross-shaped board hosts the pieces of four players, who play in two partnerships, each player having four pieces.  The pieces begin at fixed positions around the board, racing around the board to finish at the centre.

History

The history of chaupar is linked to that of pachisi, not least because the boards are identical and that it is therefore impossible to see which of the two games an archaeological example belonged to.  The games seem to have existing for most of the past two millennia, though written evidence exists only from the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries.

Rules

The starting layout of a chaupar game.

The rules below are taken from those recorded by David Parlett in his book The Oxford History of Board Games.  Where Parlett has recorded uncertainty between possibilities, I have made an arbitrary choice so as to present a coherent set of playable rules.

  1. The game is played by four players on a cross-shaped board, each player having four pieces.  Black and yellow play in partnership against red and green.  Three four-sided dice control the moves of the pieces, the numbers on the dice being 1, 2, 5 and 6.
  2. At the start of the game, each player's piece start at the 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th positions of their course, as shown in the diagram.
  3. Players each roll the dice, the highest throwing player moving first.  Play continues clockwise around the board.
  4. The pieces having begun their journey already, no specific throw is needed to move a piece from its starting place.
  5. A player on his turn starts by throwing the dice.  He then moves up to three pieces.  The throws may all be used on one piece, which moves by the total number of squares, or split between two or among three pieces.
  6. The pieces are moved along the course shown in the diagram.  The cross-cut markings on some of the squares have no relevance to the game. 
    The movement of the pieces (as seen for the south player)
  7. All of the throw must be used if there are moves possible.  It is not allowed to pass a turn in chaupar.
  8. A piece landing on a square occupied by an opponent captures the opponent's piece and sends it back to the central square to begin its journey again.
  9. A piece landing on another of its own colour may double up.  On subsequent turns, the pair may move together as if they were a single piece.  A third or fourth piece may be added to the group in the same way.
  10. A group of two or more pieces may not be captured by an enemy singleton.  It may only be captured by a group equal in number or larger than itself.
  11. A piece returns the the central square by an exact throw only.
  12. When all four pieces of a player have returned to the central square, he continues to throw during his turn; his throws are used by his opponent.
  13. When both players of a partnership have arrived at the central square, then the game is over and they are victorious.

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