« PreviousContinue »
in time to save him. Thus the blocking of the counters in that position is clearly a device to prevent one player's running out too quickly.
When the player who requires to throw pairs of numbers fails to do so, he uses the throws to bring on his other counters, which, however, cannot pass his two in the corner square. They must occupy the next two squares behind them, and wait there until a pair of numbers has been thrown to permit the first two to make way for them. Thus there are sometimes eight counters awaiting this double throw before being able to move onward; and the enemy is almost certain to chop' some of them, especially the later four, if he can succeed in getting two counters into the squares at the outer end of the last row on the left, the row preceding theirs. The first batch of counters are then left hopelessly stranded on the very edge of the safe squares. The knowledge of this adds considerably to the interest of the play; and when, as is generally the case, there is a monetary pool the players become greatly excited at this point, and as they throw the dice shout in a loud voice the number they require, by way of causing it to fall. Evidently the great aim in this exciting game should be to 'chop' the counters of one of the opponents, so as to make him re-enter behind his partner, who will then be blocked at the edge of the safe squares.
Players who know Pahaḍa Keliya well are of opinion that it is the finest game in the world. It certainly contains elements of excitement in a greater degree than the other Eastern games; and it appears to me to be a decided improvement to place all the counters in the game from the commencement, and thus avoid stupid delay in beginning the play.
ASI KELIYA, the Shell Game' or SŌNĀRU. The latter word is a variation of the Tamil name Sōnālu; the two portions so and nālu each meaning 'four' 2, the whole word is equivalent to Four-four,' that is, 'Double-four.'
1 Āsi is said to be equivalent to Bellä, shell; I believe that the game is sometimes called Bellan Keliya, 'the Shells Game.'
Such is the meaning of Sō in this word, according to information given to me by players of the game. It is not found in Clough's
This game is a modification of Pahaḍa Keliya, and is played on a similar diagram, which, however, has only four sets of squares in each arm of the cross, instead of eight (Fig. 263). It is always drawn on the ground or on a plank, and two diagonals are marked in the central enclosure, separating it into four parts. In counting, the ordinary Sinhalese words for the numbers are used, with the exception that I is expressed by the word Onḍuwa, derived from the Tamil onḍu. In each middle outermost square the counters are not liable to be 'chopped,' as well as when inside the middle row.
There are four players, each opposite pair being partners, and each player has four counters like those used in the last game. As the name implies, cowry shells are used as dice. Of these, five are the common yellow
white, and is termed Sōbella, the Four-Shell,' the others being called merely bella. The scoring is the same as that of Pancha Keliya, excepting that when two shells fall with their backs upward and one of them is the Sō-bella, this is known as So-hatara, 'Double-four,' which however counts only 4, but has special powers.
FIG. 263. Asi-Keliya Diagram.
When the throw is 1, 5, or Sō-hatara, it is termed a 'win' (dinuma), and the player has an additional throw, which is repeated as often as he obtains one of these wins.'
The entry and re-entry of the counters into the game must be paid for, and until 1, 5, or Sō-hatara has been thrown they cannot come into play. After one of these wins' has been obtained, and the additional throw which follows it has been made, the player must pay I off the score for the entry or Dictionary, nor in Winslow's Tamil Dictionary. See my note to the next game.
re-entry of each counter. Thus a throw of I releases one counter, and a throw of Sō-hatara will, if desired, release all four counters, or the 5 may be given for the release of all four. Or one, two, or three counters may be released by Sō-hatara, and the rest of its score be used for moving other counters forward.
When Sō-hatara is thrown the score may be subdivided in any way whatever among the counters, or the whole of it may be used for sending one of them forward. At each subsequent throw of Sō-hatara the whole score may be used in the same way, excepting in the special case where their re-entry must be first paid for. In all other cases only the amount of each separate throw can be scored on the board; no subdivision of the amount is allowed. Counters (called, as in other similar games, Ittō) the entry of which has been paid for, may be left in the central triangle of each player to await a later move onward.
I give an actual instance as an example. A player who had two counters waiting to enter the board on one occasion threw a Sō-hatara, followed by 1, and then by 6. Out of this total score of 11, he gave up 2 to release his two waiting Ittō, and leaving one in the central triangle, ready to move forward at his next throw, used the remaining 9 in advancing the other and thus chopping' one of his opponent's Ittō. In this case, part of the total score being Sō-hatara, he might have divided the score of 9 among his four counters, or three of them, had he so desired.
A player's counters may pass over or enter the squares in which his own counters or those of his partner are placed, but except in the case mentioned below they are not permitted to jump over the opponent's counters, which can only be 'chopped' when a counter of the other side enters their square. If the amount of a throw would take a player's counter over one of them it cannot, excepting as specified below, be utilised for that counter. When one counter enters a square in which are two of the enemies' counters it chops both, but in that case they have the right to re-enter the game together at the price ordinarily paid for one re-entry.
As in all similar games, the throwing of the shells and the scoring pass round by the right hand. There is no block at the end of the last row of outer squares as in Pahaḍa Keliya. When the counters enter the final central row they can only move to the extent of one square at a time, for which I or Sō-hatara must be thrown. They are then laid on their sides at the junction of the transverse and longitudinal lines on the player's left side of the row, and not inside the squares.
Sō-hatara has a special power of permitting the player who throws it to pass over any opposing counters, and to 'chop' them in doing so, excepting those in the middle outer squares, which are always free from all attack. The theory which explains this is that the score of Sō-hatara is composed of I+I+I+I; each component of it may be used separately for striking the opposing piece. This quality of Sō-hatara is transmitted to the whole score of which it may form part. In all other cases the opponent's counters can only be 'chopped' when the exact amount of one throw will bring a player's counter into the square occupied by them. The winners in this and allied games are those whose counters first pass round the board and into the central enclosure.
TAYAM SŌNĀLU, the Tamil game, commonly pronounced Chōnālu.
Either two or four persons, forming two opposing sides, play this game, each having eight or four counters respectively, termed Kay, 'unripe fruit.' The board, called Manei, house,' resembles that used for Pahaḍa Keliya, and, as in that game, the score is obtained by throwing two dice, termed Kaṭṭei. They differ greatly in shape and marking from those previously described, being oblongs only in. long and nearly 3 in. wide, made of ivory, bone, or wood. They are marked alike, excepting on the fourth side, as follows :— first side, one diagonal cut counts I; second side, two diagonal cuts crossing each other count 4; third side, blank, counts o; fourth side, on one oblong two transverse cuts count 2; on the other three tranverse cuts count 3 (see Fig. 267).
If a blank and I fall uppermost the score counts 1, and is
called Tayam; if a blank and the second face be upward the score is 4; if both second faces be upward the score is still 4, but it is now called Sō-ṇāl1 (pronounced Chōnal), the 'DoubleFour' of the Sinhalese game. In other cases the face values of the counters are added together and receive the ordinary Tamil names for such numbers.
No counter or Kay of a player can enter the board until he has once thrown Tayam; this is the indispensable and often irritating preliminary, and it introduces the first counter onto the first square. All squares are called Kōḍu. Afterwards, each of the throws I, 5, or Chōnal releases one of the other counters that are waiting to enter the board, and in each case one Kay is placed on the first square, and no more is counted for that throw. These three numbers also permit the player to have an additional throw, which may be repeated as long as one of these three scores is thrown. The total score, or the rest of the score after the entry of a counter or counters, is used for moving forward the counters; or each part of the score may be employed separately for it, but not be subdivided.
The counters are never free from capture excepting while passing down the last middle row of squares. They may pass into or over the squares occupied by counters of their own side, but not over those occupied by the counters of the opposing players. In order to 'cut' the opponent's counters they must enter the same squares by means of the score of one undivided throw. When two opposing counters are in one square both may be cut at once, but in that case both may re-enter the board together when 1, 5, or Chōnal is thrown by their
For a counter to enter the central enclosure the exact num
1 In Winslow's Tamil Dictionary the meaning of Sōṇālu is stated to be a lucky throw of the dice, and that of Pāṇālu, an unlucky throw. If this be correct, the former word would appear to mean literally 'the Excellent Four,' and the original form may have been Sūnālu. su meaning 'good, excellent,' and also in old Sinhalese the number 4, as in Süvisi, 24. Sū does not mean 4 in Tamil. As the actual throw called Chōnāl consists of two fours, the Sinhalese explanation given previously may be a later invention to suit the case.