Parcheesi is an American adaptation of the Indian Cross and Circle game Pachisi. The game is often subtitled Royal Game of India because Pachisi, created in India around 500 BC, used red, yellow, blue and green pawns as dancers on palace grounds. Parcheesi is the national game of India but has also been played throughout the world for many years. It is also very popular in places like Pakistan.

John Hamilton first registered the copyrights to the American adaptation, as Patchessi in 1867. In 1870, the rights were sold to a New York game manufacturer — the predecessor of Selchow & Righter, who registered the trademark in 1874. This game was a great success in sales at that time.

There is a similar game that is especially popular in Spain, where it is called Parchís. Parqués is a Colombian similar game too, all three games branch from the original Pachisi. The rules there are slightly different, mainly because of the influence of Ludo and local culture.

Rules of play


Parcheesi is played with one or two dice and the goal of the game is to move each of your pawns home to the center space. The most popular Parcheesi boards in America have seventy-two spaces around the board, twelve of which are darkened safe spaces where a pawn cannot be captured.

Each player selects four pawns of the same color and places them in their "nest," or starting area. The game board should be positioned so that each player's nest is to their right. Pawns enter play onto the darkened space to the left of their nest and continue counter-clockwise around the board to the home path directly in front of the player.

Each player rolls a die; the highest roller goes first, and subsequent play continues clockwise to the left. Each turn players throw one or both dice and use the values shown to move their pawns around the board. If an amount on one or both of the dice cannot be moved, that amount is forfeited.

Entering pawns

Five has a special value in entering pawns out of the nest where they begin the game. A player may enter a pawn only by throwing a five (one die version) or (in the two dice version) a total sum of five on the dice or if either of the dice shows a five. Each time a five is tossed, the player must enter a pawn when possible.

Capturing pawns

An opponent's pawn resting on a lighter, non-safe space can be captured by landing on the same space by the amount shown on either die. The captured pawn is sent back to its nest and the turn continues with playing of any additional values shown on the dice. Also, each time a player captures an opponent’s pawn that player is awarded twenty movement points that may be moved with any one pawn at the end of their turn. If the bonus movement amount cannot be used it is forfeited.

An opponent's pawn on a darker safe space is not capturable except when a pawn is entering onto that space from its nest. In this case, enter the pawn as usual and the opponent's pawn is captured.

It is not possible to end a turn with a pawn resting on the same space as an opponent's pawn, unless they are on a safety space.

No more than two pawns – of same or different color – can be on the same space at once.


Two of a player's pawns resting on the same space can form a blockade preventing all players from passing, including the blockading player's pawns. The player whose pawns are blocking the path may keep them together for three turns or until there is no other pawn for that player to move. Alternatively, at least with the one die version, there is no limit for a player to keep a blockade, except being unable to move any other pawn. After three turns of blockading, at least one of the pawns must be moved on the fourth turn so that the two pawns rest on different spaces at the end of the turn. If a player's move can't get beyond the blockade, he can go as close as he wants--and even win the game if he chooses.

Should a blockade occupy a player’s entry space, it will prevent that player from entering pawns into play.

It is not possible for a player to rest more than two pawns on the same space.


(Two dice version) When a doublet (doubles) is tossed, the player gains another roll of the dice. In addition, if all that player’s pawns are outside the nest, the values on reverse side of dice are also used. For example, a player who rolls 6-6 can also move 1-1 in any combination. Therefore, when a doublet is tossed, the player has a total of fourteen spaces to move one or more pawns.

Third consecutive doublet rolled in one turn is a penalty, and pawns are not moved the number of spaces shown on dice. A player with a three doublet penalty also removes their pawn closest to home back to their nest, and his/her turn ends.

Number Six

(One die version) When a six is rolled, the player gains another roll of the dice. In addition, if all that player’s pawns are outside the nest, the player gets one additional move, that is, the 6 is actually a 7.

However, the third consecutive six rolled in one turn is a penalty, and the pawn that was used to move the second six must be returned to the nest, unless the pawn had already entered the final safety line on the center space, on the way home.


The center home space can only be entered by exact throw of the die or dice. When a pawn enters the center space by exact count, that player is awarded ten movement points that may be moved with any one pawn still in play at the end of their turn. If the bonus movement amount cannot be used, it is forfeit.

Each player has his/her own home path and may not enter another's. So, when a pawn is on its home path, it can no longer be captured.

Winning the game

The first player to get all four pawns home wins, at which point the winner must yell "PARCHEESI!"

Cultural references

The title character of Heinrich Boll's novel The Clown spends much of his free time playing Parchesi.

In the webcomic Ozy and Millie, there is a game called House Rules Parcheesi, a game that seems to have rules, but they are so complicated, and branch into so many other games, it is impossible to play it. It is similar to other fictional games with complex rules or a lack of rules such as Calvinball, Mornington Crescent and Guyball.

In "The Texas Skillsaw Massacre" episode of King of the Hill Hank says, "Take it easy Parcheesi" referring to his anger management teacher and one of his many rhyming methods of relaxation.

It is also memorably mentioned in the film Ghostbusters, when Rick Moranis' character, Louis Tully, asks his party guests "So, does anybody wanna play Parcheesi?", before a Terror Dog bursts out of his closet.

Parcheesi is the favorite game of fictional private detective Tex Murphy, the star of Access Software's series of live-action computer games. It's most prominently featured in 1998's Tex Murphy: Overseer.

A variation of Parcheesi is mentioned in La Palabra, the 19th episode of Season 6 of The West Wing. Josh Lyman says that Helen Santos thinks he is playing "Presidential Primary Parcheesi" with her children's college funds.

It's mentioned in Sex and the City ("The Domino Effect") as well, by Carrie when playing dominoes with Big. She says that Dominoes are his generation's game, whilst hers is Parcheesi.

In the fourth season Seinfeld episode The Pitch, Newman claims in court that he had been playing Parcheesi with a blind man, as part of a scheme to escape payment of a speeding ticket.

In Elling, directed by Peter Næss, the eponymous Elling and his room-mate Kjell Bjarne spend a good deal of their time playing Parcheesi.

In The Curious Savage, Florence shouts "Stop! Parcheesi, The Royal Game of India!" to distract someone.

In the play On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson, the main character, Norman, twice asks his wife, Ethel, if she would care for a game of Parcheesi.

In the Ben Stiller 2007 comedy Heartbreak Kid, Miranda is told that her family are going to be playing Parcheesi when she is speaking with Eddie.

In the "Meg Cabot" book All American Girl: Ready or Not the main character Sam thinks her boyfriend is referring to sex when he invites her to play Parcheesi.

In SpongeBob SquarePants Squidward fantasizes playing Parcheesi on a cruise ship.

In the movie "Shrek 2", the donkey suggests that he, Shrek and Fiona play Parcheesi, and the game can be seen in the background.

In the 1964 film Paris - When It Sizzles, Richard tells Gabrielle that when there is a fade-out in a film, it does not necessarily cover a sex scene: it allows the audience to think that the characters for example play Parcheesi. The next scene shows Gabrielle and Richard on a bed playing Parcheesi.

In the Stephen King novel "Duma Key" the character Elizabeth Eastlake is playing Parcheesi with Jack Cantori at her house.

See also

External links

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