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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, utilized slave girls as red, yellow, blue, and green pawns on palace grounds.
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.
Parcheesi is played with two dice and the goal of the game is to take each of four colored pawns to the center square.
The Parcheesi board has sixty-eight squares in all. Sixteen of these are safe squares (squares where one's pawn cannot be "eaten" — forced to return to start — by an opponent's). A pawn that does catch up to an opponent's pawn on an unsafe square "eats" it and then continues the rest of the player's turn. When a player sends another player's pawn back to its nest, that player gains 20 points that he may move with only one of his pawns.
"Five" has a special value in this game because it serves to get pawns out of the nest where they begin the game. When a "five" is tossed (or any combination totalling "five") the player must get a pawn out of the nest if possible.
Two of a single player's pawns can form a "blockade" when they share the same space. It is destroyed when one of the two pawns moves or when there is no other way to move for any pawn than by passing over the blockade.
When a "doublet" (pair) is tossed, the player gains an extra turn. In addition, if all the pawns are outside the nest, the values below the dice can also be used. For example, a player who rolls 6-6 can also move 1-1 with either the same pawns or different ones. With two pawns on the board, a player can move 7 with one pawn and 7 with another one. With three pawns a player can move 6-1-7, and with 4 a player can move 6-6-1-1. Therefore, with this type of play, the player always moves one or more pawns a total of fourteen spaces. If all of the 14 cannot be used, the turn is forfeited. A player with 3 consecutive doublets must return one of their pawns to the nest. This pawn must be the pawn closest to the center.
When a pawn enters the arrival square "by exact count", the player gains 10 points that can be used to move one pawn. If this cannot be done with the pawns remaining on the board, the points are lost.
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