Games: Snooker for itchy fingers

Click to follow
PUBS like new games that attract new customers. And if the game doesn't take up too much space, so much the better. This is perhaps why the growth in popularity of Carrom is being well received.

Carrom is really best described as snooker for fingers. It originated in Burma, but was developed in India in the early 18th century. In later years it became played throughout Asia, then spread to the Middle East.

In its early years, the game board was made from marble, and the Carrommen from ivory. Nowadays it is played on a highly polished wooden surface - about the size of a bridge table - but with a raised wooden surround, and a pocket at each of the four corners.

The 19 wooden Carrommen (nine white, nine black and one red - the queen) resemble draughts pieces. The striker - rather like the cue ball in snooker - is larger and thicker. Two to four players can play, and the object is to pot the Carrommen by finger-flicking the striker at them.

There are no roving bottoms, as players stay put on their side of the board. There is a line along each side of the table, in front of each player, along which they select the optimum position for the striker and then flick it - always up the table. After a successful pot, the striker is retrieved and repositioned by the same player. Your turn finishes after a failure to pot, as in snooker, and the next player clockwise retrieves the striker from wherever it has come to rest on the table (or floor).

The UK Carrom Federation was formed in September 1991, one month before the first World Carrom Championship was held in New Delhi. The enthusiastic chairman is Mr Krishnan K Sharma and its headquarters are at 11 Orchard Way, Leagrave, Luton, Beds LU4 9LT. There is also a UK Carrom League, organised by Ashok Thakrar - better known as a tennis umpire - who can be contacted by telephone or fax on 0604 769898.

Quality Carrom sets cost between pounds 60 and pounds 100, and the UK's leading supplier is David Westnedge Ltd, 5 Ferrier Street, London SW18 1SN.

Carrom looks set to become the next pub game craze - it is hard to pass a board without stopping to take a flick - and it is rare to see a game in action which hasn't attracted a crowd of onlookers.