How (NOT) to Teach Your Children to Play Ludo

By Rahila Ovais

IMG_2975

I am sure all moms from South Asia are pretty familiar with the board game Ludo; the beloved family amusement in life before internet and computers. It was our favorite entertainment during  summer breaks, family sleepovers or power outages through long winter nights; where everyone is an expert on the rules of the game, always bending the rules to favor their own move. For those of you who don’t know what Ludo is please refer to the game rules here.

Over this past winter break in an effort to keep the kids entertained with a new activity every day and after ruling out Scrabble and Taboo, we decided to have a game of Ludo one night with my kids; MJ 19 years old, MJ2 13 years old and DJ who is 5 years old. You all can probably already imagine how the night went given the ages of the players.

As per the rules, the one who rolls the highest number on the dice goes first and you need to roll a six to get your pieces out of their giant square boxes. Well lo and behold, the little one rolls a six, talk about beginner’s luck!  Not just one six but three times! At this point MJ2 claims DJ must have a trick up his sleeves to be able to roll out sixes every time; she is now determined to find that out by hook or crook. After several cheating attempts she gets her way. Meanwhile MJ still hasn’t been able to roll a single six! She claims that she does not cheat like MJ2.  This in turn makes MJ2 furious and an argument takes place which requires referee intervention. (Kindly note: a normal Ludo game does not require a referee) MJ makes MJ2 lose a turn as payback for cheating; there is another argument and intervention where DJ then draws a map on a paper outlining the order of each player’s turns.

Another rule of the game is you must take out one of the opponent’s pieces in order to enter the pathway to your corresponding “Home”. You can do this by landing on top of an opponent’s piece.  The piece that is taken out goes back to the corresponding player’s giant square box and the player has to roll another six to get it out. For example, if you roll a four and your opponent’s piece is 4 squares in front of you then that piece goes back in.  Again DJ having beginner’s luck is able to keep taking his sister’s pieces out! In fact at one point, he rolls a four and MJ2’s piece is one square ahead of him and he insists that the piece needs to be taken out as it is in his way!  MJ loses her patience at this point. This time, along with intervention there is a lot of begging and babying to get them to continue to play.

By this time the beginner’s luck for DJ has worn off and MJ2 rolls the dice where now she can take his piece out.  DJ does not accept it, claiming she can make one of her other pieces go and leave his alone; MJ2 insists she has to take his piece out to enable her to go “home”. (Rule: if you cannot take out an opponent’s piece before reaching your corresponding “Home” section and you have no other moves available, you will have to go through the entire board again).  We are all at the height of frustrations, trying to explain the rules to a 5 year old and 13 year old (over their yelling and screaming, between fits of laughter). MJ and MJ2 still argue about the rules and little DJ pitching in where he could.  Emotions running high and voices even higher to the point where nani has to interrupt her prayers and come back to intervene.

 In the end, DJ having his patience maxed out, simply messes up all the pieces on the board, claiming the win as he was the only one who had all his pieces out (while all others had only one or two or no pieces out); a full ten minutes of entertainment!

I couldn’t help but reminisce this is exactly how the games used to turn out when we used to play during our summer breaks, family sleepovers or power outages through long winter nights where everyone is an expert on the rules of the game, always bending the rules to favor their own move.  What mattered most in the end was the laughter over ice cream with chocolate sauce after refusing to speak to each other for two hours.

About the Author

Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.