...but not for the reputation and certainly not when you are playing ‘Tigers and Goats’
The confession that you haven’t the foggiest idea of how to play backgammon or that ancient hunt game of Tigers and Goats ( or Aadu Huli Aata as it is known in the Kannada lanagauage of the Indian State of Karnataka ) can lead to one acquiring a reputation of being not quite there!
It was Thomas Robert Dewar whose name has been immortalised by one of the finest blended Scotch whiskies, who said: “Confessions are good for the soul but not for the reputation.”
When you are playing this simple game of Adu Huli Aaata ( ‘Tiger and Goats’ or ‘goats and tigers’ or even ‘leopards and men,’ if that is your preference ) you will discover that if your are the tiger it is not just a question of swallowing the minimum of six plus one goats but being nifty in dodging the slow ganging up of goats who are bent on penning you into a corner.
This is one game that is not just played by two players but there is active participation of aunts, uncles, fathers and fathers-in-law, mothers and mthers-in-law, of daughters, sons, particularly those below 13 and other assorted kith and kin who crawl out of the woodwork when the word gets around that a game of Aadu-Huli Aata is about to commence.
Whether you are the goatherd and the owner of the tigers, you will be subjected to unwarranted , unsolicited advice which in most cases proves delibrately useless.
The game which in the old days, pre-Woodstock days, was usually scribbled with chalk on the floor of the verandah and everybody sprawled around.
Go back further in time you will discover that in many of the ancient temples, there will be this game etched by some scuptor goofing off and rounding up a couple of other members to play a game.
You don’t belive me ? The next time you walk up the steps of the Chamundi Hill in Mysore, stop by the great doorway and on the stone steps you will discover this game etched deep in the rock.
Not only this temple, the even more old temples of Aihole, Pattadkal, Badami, Hampi,
(!) which you will see inscribed on the stone flagstones of some of the most ancient temples in India
The Adu-Huli Aata game board is three horizontal lines connected at the corners and a triangleof three lines that disect the horizontal lines and meet at the top. In fact if you have read one of Erich von Daniken’s books, you will surmise that the game plan drawing of the Aadu-Huli Aata is like the landing strip for alien spacecraft!
This is how the game goes: The powerful tigers or leopards ‘ kill’ the weaker sheep or goats by jumping over them in a straight line and onto a vacant space. But the weaker sheep or goats do not have this advantage of leaping over but instead they ‘ gang up’ and pen the powerful tigers into a state of immobility.
This is where your reputation is on the line. All your boasting that you have played this game many a times while you were still in your shorty pants will come a cropper if ( and it doesn’t matter if you are a goat or a leopard or a tiger) you get skewered or penned as the case may be.
It is not a question of moving the pieces radomly hoping for the best. the game calls for devious thinking like a home-grown Ninja and outsmarting your opponent.
Whether you draw the tigers or the goats, either way, you have to mentally plan your strategy and there are several ’what if’ questions that you need to work out mentally. But if you are not able to count upto 20 without using your fingers and toes then this game is not for you!
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