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Jakaro or Jackaroo

jakaro board
There is a splendid game played in the middle east coffee houses and shisha bars, especially Kuwait, which is little known in the West. The spelling of the name varies but it is somewhere in the vicinity of Jakaro.

The wooden playing boards are hand crafted and fold at the centre, usually supplied with quality bags with a pocket for marbles and playing cards.

The game is obviously in the family of Ludo/Pachisi etc but instead of dice, playing cards are used, and there is rather more strategy involved than with Ludo.

The rules vary and are agreed by the players, but the basic rules are those of a Canadian French Quebec "traditional" game called Jeu du Toc.

In Germany and Holland another variant is on sale called DOG, with special cards and a few less places on the board. The European version is on sale at Amazon.co.uk as Dog The Board Game. The Dutch version is also labelled Tock.

The rules presented here are fairly advanced rules with more balance towards play strategy, simpler rules are often used. I have indicated thus [toc] the general rules used in Toc- which also has rather variable rules.

It may be conjectured that Jakaro is a corruption of Jeu Du.

A Toc board may have playing holes numbered 1 to 18 (four times) , my Jakaro board has holes numbered 0 to 18 (4 times).

[Ludo/Uckers boards have gained an extra playing square if you compare ancient and modern boards, on older boards you started one square away from the bottom of the home run column].

PLAY:

Four players, playing either for first to win OR as partners (opposite sides of board) where play continues until a partnership has won. Two players could play the roles of partners (eg each player controls marbles from opposite sides, but each colour marble uses its own hand of cards).

WIN: The player has four marbles in his HOME section- the four holes in the arms of the cross.

DIRECTION OF PLAY:

My board is numbered for pieces to move around the board CLOCKWISE, Rotation of players should move counter clockwise (that is the player to your right follows your move.) (Direction of movement on the board and rotation of players can differ in some variations).

START:

jakaro board labelled Each players marbles are placed in the four holes near the centre of the cross.

The card deck (52 cards, no jokers) are shuffled and one player (Player 1) will deal four cards to each player, face down.

The player to the dealers right first plays ONE card. The card played is placed in the centre of the board before the move is made.

A KING or ACE are required to place a marble from the central holes to the players BASE hole (marked 0 on my board).

If the player has no King or Ace, he may play a Black Jack or a 10 to cause the player to his RIGHT to place a card in the centre (see below for Black Jack and 10 cards),

If a player cannot play any card he must "burn" one of his cards to the centre and play moves to the next player. It is optional for a player to place all his four cards into the centre and sit out play until the next deal. [In the game of TOC a player MUST discard all his cards if he cannot play one]. A player must always place a card in the centre for each move unless he has already placed all his hand in the centre.

THE BASE HOLE is the players place of safety. A red marble on the red players BASE may not be captured or moved by other players under any circumstance, and also NO pieces may pass a BASE if it has a marble on it of the colour of the BASE player.

PLAY

Play rotates to the right until all players have no cards, then the dealer deals a further four cards to each player and play continues. When these have been used the dealer deals five cards to each player.

After the final deal has been fully played, the cards are taken from the centre and reshuffled. The player to the dealers right then takes the role of dealer and issues four cards to each player, face down... and on we go.

BLOCK

Two adjacent marbles provide a block and you cannot jump over them, but you may be able to capture either..
A players piece on his own home hole blocks all pieces.
A player may not move past a marble of his colour.
A player can jump over one marble PROVIDED it is not his own colour.

CAPTURE

If a player moves his piece and it lands on the marble of another player, the marble is removed and replaced into the other players home and must start again.
A player may play a King and move one of his marbles 13 holes, and any marbles he passes over will be returned to their home. Note he cannot pass over a marble of his own colour.

END GAME

When a player has gone round the board and is approaching his BASE, he turns right and goes up the central column of four holes. He has won the game when he has all four marbles in this column. He can only move EXACT moves and cannot use part of a card's value.

Once a player has finished, in partnership play he CONTINUES to play but uses his cards to move his partners pieces. Play continues until one of the two partnerships has all its 8 marbles in the central columns. (Partners should not discuss moves and tactics).

The Cards

ACE- can be used to move a marble from home to the BASE point. OR move a marble ONE place. [same as Toc]
TWO- used to move a players marble TWO places.
THREE- used to move a players marble THREE steps forward.
FOUR- used to move a players marble four steps BACKWARDS [ same as Tock]. NB You cannot reverse up the central holes.
FIVE- a player can move ANY marble five steps forwards provided it is not on its own players BASE. He may move his own or his partners piece into the home column but if he moves an opponents piece he may move that piece PAST the bottom of that players home column.
SIX- used to move a players marble forwards six steps.
SEVEN - The seven steps can be divided between the players marbles as he sees fit. [In one TOC variant, the seven steps are defined as seven separate steps of one hole, which may have a different effect to moving one marble seven steps in one go or two marbles 3 and 4 steps etc.]
EIGHT- used to move a players marble eight steps forward.
NINE- Used to move a players marble nine steps forward.
TEN- either the player can move a one of his marbles ten steps OR require the player on his right to discard one of his cards (of his choosing) and that player then misses his turn, the discard is treated as his turn. (If the player to the right has discarded all his cards then the player can move ten spaces or if not possible and he has no other moves, place his ten in the centre.)
JACK- RED JACK- A player may move his marble eleven steps forward.
      BLACK JACK- A player may switch one of his marbles in play on the board with ANY other marble in play on the board- unless it is on its own players BASE. [Toc allows the player to choose instead of fixing usage on colour]
QUEEN- RED QUEEN- You may select a card from the player to your right, held with their backs towards you. This is placed in the centre and that player will miss his turn- the discard is his turn. (If the player to the right has discarded all his cards then the player if he has no other moves, place his red queen in the centre.)
      BLACK QUEEN- used to move a players marble twelve steps forward.
KING- A player can move a piece from a starting hole to BASE OR he may move one of his marbles 13 spaces. All marbles passed over are returned to their starting holes in the centre. A player cannot pass over a marble of his own.[same as Tock]

Strategy

Perfection: A player first plays an ACE and moves a marble to his BASE. On his next move he plays a 4 and moves the marble 4 spaces back. On the next move, assuming the centre column is empty, he can play a six and move the marble to the end of the centre column.

If an opponent is nearing his home column, you can play a 5 and move his piece BEYOND the centre column making him go round again [a variant in Toc]. However you can use the 5 to move your PARTNERS piece into the central column if it is possible to do so.

If two partners have a marble which has moved only a couple of steps from their BASE, one can play a Black Jack to swap them and each partner then has a piece moved half way home.

If you have a marble a long way from home and an opponent is nearing completion you can use a black jack to move yourself forward and your opponent backwards.


See also wikipedia article Tock
In Toc the deal may be 5 cards then 4 cards then 4 cards.
In some tock variants it is the Queen or the seven and not the King that captures all it passes over.
In some variants of Toc a marble cannot wait for the right card to enter the central home, but must pass the home row and continue round yet again.
Some Tock variants allow single card drawing after the initial 5 card draw.
Some tock variants allow an ace to permit moves of 1 or 11.
Some tock variants allow crossing the centre as in Aggression.
Some tock variants allow a 4 to reverse into the home column.
Some tock variants permit a Jack to swap ANY two marbles (one does not have to be the players marble).

Players should agree the rules they are playing to before play!

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