Pachisi (also known as Ludo), is a game that originated in medieval India. Played on a board shaped like a symmetrical cross, the rules involve moving the players’ pieces move around the board, based upon a throw of six or seven cowrie shells. The number of shells resting with their aperture turned upwards indicate the number of spaces to move.
The name is derived from the Hindi word ‘pachis’, which means ‘twenty-five’, as that is the largest score that can be thrown. There are, however, versions of this game where the largest score thrown can be thirty.
Up to four players can play this game (as individuals or teams). There is a large square in the centre of the cruciform, called the ‘charkoni’, which is the starting and finishing position. The four arms are divided into three columns of eight squares. The players’ pieces are moved along these columns, and the first person or team to move all their pieces from the charkoni outwards and then back again wins the game. In between, players may ‘capture’ other player’s pieces as well (depending on the rules).
Pachisi helps to develop dexterity in fingers, counting skills and strategy. Moreover, since it is a game usually played with the board kept on the floor and players sitting around it on the ground, it helps to improve flexibility of the body as well.