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Parcheesi is a brand name American adaptation of the Indian cross and circle board game Pachisi. Created in India perhaps as early as 500 AD, Pachisi is subtitled Royal Game of India because royalty played by using servants of the royal household adorned in colored-costumes as game pieces on large outdoor boards. Such a court is preserved at Fatehpur Sikri. The game and its variants are known worldwide; for example, a similar game called Parchís is popular in Spain, and Northern Morocco. Parqués is its Colombian variant. A version is available in the United Kingdom under the name of Ludo.
Parcheesi is played with one or two dice and the goal of the game is to move each of one's pieces home to the center space. The most popular Parcheesi boards in America have 68 spaces around the edge of the board, 12 of which are darkened safe spaces where a piece cannot be captured.
Each player selects four pieces of the same color and places them in their "nest", or starting area. The gameboard should be positioned so that each player's nest is to his right. Pieces enter play onto the darkened space to the left of the nest and continue counter-clockwise around the board to the home path directly in front of the player.
Each player rolls a die; the highest roller goes first, and subsequent play continues to the left. On each turn, players throw one or both dice and use the values shown to move their pieces around the board. If an amount on one or both of the dice cannot be moved, that amount is forfeited.
Any time a player rolls, he must use as much of the dice showing as possible. (E.g., if a player rolls 4 and 5 and could move either 4 or 5, but not both, then he must move 5.)
Entering a piece
Five has a special value in entering pieces out of the nest from where they begin the game. A player may enter a piece only by throwing a five or a total sum of five on the dice. Each time a five is tossed, the player must start another piece, if viable.
Any piece that is not on a safe space or a part of a blockade can be captured by an opposing piece. A player is awarded 20 bonus spaces for capturing an opposing piece. The 20 spaces may not be divided between pieces and must be moved, if possible. At no time may a player go by the corners and not count the spaces. The captured piece is returned to the opposing player's nest.
Team Rules: If an opposing team has two pieces on a player's entering area, the player cannot enter.
When two pieces occupy the same space, they prevent any pieces behind the two from advancing past the blockade. This includes blocking pieces from leaving their nest. Two pieces that form a blockade may not be moved forward together to form a new blockade on the same roll.
The dark spaces in which there are a small circle are safe spaces. A piece may not be captured as long as it sits on one of these spaces. The only exception is if a piece sits on the safe space where another player enters the board from his nest. Those spaces are safe from all other players, but the piece can be taken if the player whose nest it is has a piece in his nest and rolls a 5 (as long as it isn't a blockade).
Two pieces that form a blockade are also safe.
(Two dice version) When a double (doubles) is tossed before all four pieces have been entered, the player takes his turn as usual and gains another roll of the dice. In addition they can split the roll between two pieces.
When a double is tossed after all four pieces are entered, values on the reverse side of the dice are also used. For example, a player who rolls 6-6 can also move 1-1 in any combination. Therefore, when a double is tossed, the player has a total of fourteen spaces to move one or more pieces. If the player cannot move the entire number of spaces he cannot move any spaces, but still gets to roll again.
The third consecutive doublet rolled in one turn is a penalty, and no pieces are moved forward. A player with a three doublet penalty also removes his piece closest to home (back to their nest), and his turn ends. Pieces can be moved off of the home path in this case, but not off of the home square.
The player cannot split doubles in order to enter home. This means that a player can only enter home by rolling doubles if the person is exactly 14 spaces from home.
The center home space can only be entered by an exact throw of the die or dice. When a piece enters the center space by exact count, that player is awarded ten movement points that may be moved with any one piece still in play at the end of their turn. If the entire bonus movement amount cannot be used by one piece, it is forfeited.
Each player has their own home path and may not enter another's. So, when a piece is on its home path, it can no longer be captured by an opponent. A player's pieces in the home path can still be moved to reach the home path, in case the roll is not exact to enter Home. Pieces can still be removed from the home path as a result of the penalty for rolling three consecutive doublets.
Winning the game
The first player to get all four pieces home wins.
- Falkener, Edward (1892), Games Ancient and Oriental and How to Play Them (rpt. New York: Dover Publications, 1961 ed.), London: Longmans, Green and Company, pp. 257–58 quoting M.L. Rousselet: India and its Native Princes, 1876.
- Parcheesi in Tangier Morocco. John Lux. Aug 11th 2014, http://tangierhotels.net/blog/parcheesi-tangier-morocco/
- 3DParqués an iPad version from 2 to 6 players
- Vegard Krog Petersen, "Pachisi and Ludo"
- Rules of Parcheesi
- Parcheesi online
- Parcheesi online with 2 dice