Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Haitian board game Rhum, Rom

The standard-sized board.
Here in Cayes many people sit outside their house playing a game called rhum or rom (pronounced waom), on homemade boards.  Ashley’s friends made one for her, then I commissioned one small enough to fit in my suitcase.  The idea is to be the first to move all 4 of your pieces around the board and into the center, before someone lands on your spot and sends you back to the start (or eats your piece).  You roll two die, and need a 5 to move out of your starting block and onto the board.  Play continues around the board, moving the number of spaces you rolled on the 2 dice (i.e. a 4 and a 5, you can move 9 spaces with one piece, or 4 with one and 5 with another).  The exception is if you roll a 6 you move 12 places.  If you roll two 6’s, you immediately roll again.  If this second roll results in two 6’s, your piece that is furthest ahead (but not up your alley on the way home?) goes all the way back to the beginning.  You always have to move the maximum spaces possible, even if it puts you in a bad position.

5 moved the piece out to the green space, then it moved 4.

There are colored spaces in which you are safe (green or red in these photos).  No one else can land on these spaces while you are there.  So the goal is to move from colored space to colored space to make it home safely.  The only time you can eat someone on a colored space is if they are on the one at your starting block and you roll a 5 to get out.  These colored spaces are 5 or 7 spaces apart, which make moving quick since you shouldn’t need to count every space when you move.  The Haitians can move quickly around the board, I still need to take my time and count the spaces.

You can also block other players by having 2 of your pieces on the same space.  The only way someone can pass these is if they also have 2 pieces on the same space and roll the same number on both dice to land on your 2 pieces, as long as your 2 pieces aren’t safe on a colored space.  If an opponent's block is on your starting space, you can eat both pieces by rolling a 5 to get out.

Post comments if you know about this game!

Update - This game is parcheesi!  With differences in how the dice are counted.  I also found it referred to as Haitian Lotto or Haitian Parcheesi, with one being sold as "Handpainted. 'VooDoo Eye' motif. Oil on board. c. 1970's. 28" x 28". Provenance: The Ute Stebich Collection. Est. $200 - $400. Ship: $35."

My rhum board made by Dervensky, complete with a bird.

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