Nepal’s national board game is bagh chal, literally ‘move the tigers’ (bagh = tiger; chal = move). This is a fascinating and engrossing game requiring concentration and skill. The game is played on a lined board with 25 intersecting points and requires two players. One player has four tigers, the other has 20 goats – the aim is for the ‘tiger player’ to ‘eat’ five goats by jumping over them before the ‘goat player’ can encircle a single tiger and prevent it moving.
The game begins with the four tigers situated at the four corners of the board. Play alternates between the goats and the tigers; the goat player brings his goats on the board one at a time. No goat can be moved from its initial position until every goat has been brought on to the board. By backing up one goat with another so that the tiger cannot jump over them, the goats can soon clutter up the board so effectively that the tigers cannot move. That is if the tigers have not already eaten up the goats.
All that is needed to play is a board – scratched out on the dirt – and 24 bottle caps or stones as markers; however attractive brass bagh chal sets are crafted out of metal in Kathmandu and in Patan where they are made.