How to play Chowka Bara (5 House)

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The “Roll-the-Dice How To” play 5 House Chowka Baara; Also known as Katte Mane, Ashta Chamma, Gatta Mane, Chakka, Pakidakali, Daayum, Kavidi Kali, Kach kangri, Changa po, Cheeta 

There are many variants of this game across India. This “How-To” follows a variant played mostly in southern parts of Karnataka

Chowka Baara Basics

The 5 House Chowka Baara board has 5X5 blocks. Upto four players can play the game. Each player has a home block – marked ⓐ – and has four pawns each. Optionally, players who sit opposite to each other are paired as a team.

Chowka Bara positions

The players have to take turns to roll the kavade set (set of 4 cowrie shells). Based on the number the player gets, she moves a chosen pawn by that many blocks as described in the play script below. Each kavade has 2 values (0 and 1). The hump of the kavade denotes 0, while the mouth of the shell denotes 1. All four mouths (1s) denote a Chowka (4). If the player gets all four humps (0s), that is a Baara (8).

The player who starts, rolls the set of 4 kavades. Based on the total of the kavades (1s + 0s) or 4 or 8, the player gets to move a pawn. If the player gets a chowka or baara, she can roll the kavades again. If the player has multiple turns (because she has rolled 4 or 8), she can move multiple pawns with the multiple numbers she has rolled. She can move the pawns along the perimeter in the anti-clockwise direction.

The pawn enters the inner squares through the square ⓒ, that is to the left of the home square.  But the pawn can enter the inner squares only if the player has “taken out” an opponent’s pawn. If the player gets numbers moving by which she enters a block which has the opponent’s pawns, she can “take out” the opponent’s pawn (is placed back in the home square). If the opponent’s pawn is in a home block, then it cannot be “taken out”.

Chowka Bara Pawn movement

In the inner squares, if two pawns of the player are in the same block, then he can “toughen” (gatti) them by rolling a “2”. Until the pair becomes “gatti”, they’re known as “tollu” pawns (of hollow strength). Such pawns can only be moved forward by 1 block for every 2 rolled (2 -> 1, 4 -> 2, 8 -> 4). Opponent’s pawns cannot move beyond the “gatti” pawns unless with their own “gatti” pawns. Gatti pawns can be “taken out” by the opponent’s gatti pawns only. Only then, can the opponent’s pawns move further in the inner circle. 

Winning the game

If a player can get all her 4 pawns into the center block first ⓑ, then that player wins.

Use these to make the play more exciting *

“itta-mane-chith” –

an opponent player has to call out/shout “itta-mane-chith” quickly when a pawn is placed in a particular square. Then the player can not revert or change her move if this is called out, else they can modify their play. Useful when player has missed using some advantageous moves.

“muttidd-kai-chith” –

Opponent player has to call out/shout “muttidd-kai-chith” quickly as soon as a pawn is lifted, so that player has no other option, but to move the same pawn. The player might have lost a chance for a good move.

“moor naak shyam / moor ent shyam” –

If a player throws four or eight consecutively then the opponent player can call out/shout “moor ent shyam or moor naak shyam”. If the opponent calls out first, then the numbers are nullified for the player. If a player calls out first then she can use all the 4s or 8s she has rolled.

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