TABLAN Rules, Route and Layout


These rules are taken from the book by R.C. Bell BOARD and TABLE GAMES from Many Civilisations.

This traditional game is still played in some of the villages in Mysore in south-west India.

Tablan Board.gif

  1. The board consists of four rows of twelve squares and each player has twelve pieces of his own colour. At the beginning of the game one piece stands on each square of the player’s back row.

Tablan Layout.gif

2. The four dicing sticks are painted on one side and plain on the other. They are thrown from the hand into the air, caught and thrown up again two or three times before they are allowed to fall to the ground. (This method of throwing is optional.

 Dice Sticks low res.png


1 plain surface up : 2 and throw again

4 plain surfaces up : 8 and throw again

4 painted surfaces up : 12 and throw again

No other throw scores and the sticks are passed to the opponent

3. The first move of a piece can only be made on a throw of 2, though this throw can be split into two 1’s if required, and two pieces can be moved one square instead of one piece two squares.

4. Throws of 8 and 12 can similarly be split in half into two 4’s or two 6’s.

5. The pieces move in the directions shown in the diagram. White’s pieces move A to L, L to X, X to m, m to x and then into Black’s back row. Black’s pieces move in the opposite direction and finish in White’s back row.

Tablan Rout.gif

6. The pieces can only capture enemy pieces when they are on the two central rows, or when displacing them on the opponents back row. Captured pieces are removed from the board.

7. Once a piece lands on a square on the opponent’s back row it is immobilised and does not move again during the game. It cannot be captured.

8. The enemy home row is captured, square by square, starting from a to l. (This rule is optional.)

9. More than one piece can be moved in any turn of play and more than one capture can be made; but the pieces must move in the directions shown, and when they reach their last square on the middle rows they must turn off into the enemy home row and become immobilised. If they displace a home piece in doing so it is captured.

10. There is no DOUBLING up of pieces.

11. At any stage of the game a player has to use a throw, convenient or not, unless he has only one piece left near the end of the middle row next to the enemy camp and the throw does not allow him to occupy a square in the enemy camp. These squares must be occupied one after another in the order of a to l (Rule 8).

12. The player occupying most enemy home squares wins the game.

All graphics by J. P. Smith 2019.