Chopat ki Sadak is the national board game of India. This race game is known by numerous names in different part of the vast country. It is called as Pagade (Kannada), Chaupar (Hindi), Chausar (Hindi), Chopat (Hindi), Pachisi (Hindi), Parcheesi (English – USA), Sokkattan (Tamil), Dayakattam (Tamil), Pagdi Pat (Marathi).
The game is for four players playing as partners. Partners sit opposite each other; Yellow and Black play against Red and Green. To begin, the pieces are placed in the Charkoni. Each player throws the cowries – highest plays first and thereafter turns are taken in an anti-clockwise direction.
It is possible to play the game with two players. In this case, play proceeds exactly as if there were four players but one player plays Yellow and Black and the other plays Red and Green.
Each player’s objective is to move all four pieces down the middle of the nearest arm, around the edge of the board in an anti-clockwise direction and then back up the same arm to finish back in the Charkoni. The pieces are placed on their sides when returning up the middle of the arm towards the Charkoni in order to distinguish them from pieces just starting.
It is more skillful, complex and older game called Chausar, Chaupar, Chapur or Chaupad also exists (there are several more spellings and names – this game probably holds the record for number of variations of a name!). This is the form of the game that the Emperor Akbar 1 of India would have played using slave girls for pieces in the sixteenth century and the game probably dates back to well before the time of Christ. Play is the same as Pachisi with the following differences:
- Three long dice are used instead of cowry shells. Each long die has 1 and 6 on opposing faces and 2 and 5 (or sometimes 3 and 4) on the other faces.
- There are no graces or extra throws.
- Castle squares are absent or, if played upon a Pachisi board, are ignored.
- Pieces start on specific squares instead of the Charkoni although captured pieces are returned to the Charkoni. To prepare to start the game, position each set of four pieces on squares 6, 7, 23 and 24 from the Charkoni.
- Pieces can be melded together to form a “super-pieces”. If two pieces of the same shade land on the same space, then those pieces are lumped together and thereafter play as a single piece with double the power. Triple and quadruple pieces can be formed in the same way. Conglomerate pieces move using the throw of the dice as if they were a single piece. However, a double piece can only be captured by a double, triple or quadruple piece, a triple piece is only vulnerable to a triple or quadruple piece and a quadruple piece can only be captured by another quadruple piece.
- Each throw can be split into its constituent parts and shared across the pieces. For instance, if a 1, 2 and 6 is thrown, a player might choose to move one piece 9 squares or three pieces 1, 2 and 6 squares respectively. It would also be possible to move a piece 2 squares to form a double piece and then move the double piece 7 further squares, for instance.
- A throw cannot be passed in whole or part unless a player cannot move.
- An exact throw is required for a piece to get home.
- All the blacks must be got home before a yellow piece can go home. All the reds must be got home before a green piece can go home.