Waitaminute. I've played this game before.

A Carrom board.

If you visit our ThoughtWorks Pune office, you'll commonly see team members unwind over at a small table in the corner, shooting small wooden pucks at one another. The game is Carrom, and for lack of energy and adjectives, I'll describe it as billiards you play with your fingers and coin-sized discs; a larger, ceramic disc serves as the cue "ball". I played Carrom last year when I came to our Bangalore office for Away Day, surprised to find a game so similar to the default Canadian Christmas game of my childhood: Crokinole.

A Crokinole board.

Where Carrom resembles billiards, Crokinole resembles curling (of course!). Shoot for the middle of the play area and try to get as many discs as you can inside the opponent's inner-most disc. The very centre of a Crokinole board is recessed, which provides one's cousins with ample opportunity for extremely violent shots involving discs projected off the edge. Carrom, by contrast, is a relatively calm game.

Apparently these two games have been combined (or Crokinole has an intermediate ancestor) in American Carrom, which has the central pegs of Crokinole but the corner holes and square shape of Carrom. It certainly sounds more engaging, but since it's American it will surely lead to your children drinking 3 Starbucks a day and invading foreign countries on weekends. Avoid at all costs.

An antique Carrom-Crokinole board, also known as "American Carrom".


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