Sholo Guti, Sixteen Pawn Game | Bangladesh

Name in Original Language

Area Where Played




Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation in 1971 through a massive war against Pakistan. Bangladeshis are proud of their Bengali culture, with its traditions of music, dance, theatre, art and literature. The country shares a deep rooted history of sacred and traditional music, dance, theatre and other ethnological performances with the culture of South Asia, especially with the Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian groups living in this region. It has also developed its own regional forms of popular music. These include Bhatiali and Bhawaiya songs about boatmen and life on the river, the land and human relationships. Baul, mystical verses sung by a group of religious musicians, is a key tradition in Bangladesh. Indigenous traditional dance forms include the Dhamail, Baul, Manipuri, Saotal, Marma, Chakma, Murong, etc. The popular traditional games chiefly played in rural areas and passed along from one generation to another, are played for physical exercise and entertainment, or at times, for competition.
All over the country; both indoors and outdoors on plain surfaces.
Most of the reviewers and analytical critics explained that, Sholo Guti, or Game of Pawns, has a clear resemblance to the game of Chess, though there are no historically authentic evidence to prove the relationship. In the rules of the game, there is a vision about war planning. Once, the game Sholo Guti was called the Mughal-Pathan game. In this South Asian region, the Mughal-Pathan war has a historically significant impact during the medieval times. Some people may also relate this game with Pasha Khela, the Game of Dice. The game Pasha Khela is mentioned in the great mythological Epic, Mahabharata, which was written in pre-historic times.

Detailed Description

Sholo Guti is one of the most common and regularly played games of Bangladesh. In rural areas, this game is played frequently as an leisure activity. This game is played amongst peers of all age groups, and is played all around the year. There is no time or seasonal restrictions to playing Sholo Guti. During the monsoon season, it is played indoors or on a terrace, but during the summer, Sholo Guti is popularly played in quiet and calm outdoor locations- under a tree, along the paddy fields, and beside a pond.
The name Sholo Guti is derived from the words Sholo and Guti. Here, sholo means sixteen and guti means pawn, so it is known as the Game of Sixteen Pawns. A geometrical pattern of a court and 16 pawns, or guti, are needed on each side to play the game. This game is similar to the traditional dice game, Pasha.
Sholo Guti is a game of twoness, in which only two players can play the game. The game requires mental, psychological, and intellectual skills, adding to its exciting nature. This game can also be identified as a game of neuro-tactics that demand a high level of focus and concentration over the court arranged by the two sets of sixteen pawns.
Two kinds of courts for Sholo Guti are seen in practice– temporary and permanent. Temporary courts are drawn on the clean and bright surfaces of the muddy or concrete ground. Permanent courts are engraved onto the concrete floor, generally in the extended room or veranda of some houses in rural areas. These kind of parmanent courts demonstrate a long tradition of Sholo Guti that is practiced from generation to generation in the agricultural based society.


Court and Rules

Step 1

The court of Sholo Guti is made up of two triangular shapes attached with two long sides of a rectangular shape. This Court consists of a total number of 37 dot-points emerging from the geometrical intersection of 14 lines, placed vertically, horrizontaly and diagonally. Two set of sixteen pawns, or Guti, of two different colors are placed on 16 dot-points from the begining of two opposite side of the court. Pawns can be made with anything, such as 16 pieces of stones, bricks, or slices of leaves and branches etc. For Sholo Guti, both temporary and parmanent courts are used to play, but temporary courts are much more common in practice.

Step 2

Start the Game

To start the game both player sit on the ground facing each other, while keeping the space of the court between them. For the first Chaal (dealing) of a pawn (guti), a mutual agreement is made between the two players. The game then starts with a first deal of a guti next to any empty dot-point. The set number of games is decided by the players prior to the game. In most cases, the game is played for 3 to 5 sets.   

Step 3

Beating Pawns

The goal of this game is to capture the pawns (Guti Khaoa) of the other player one by one down to the last pawn. According to the rules of the game, a pawn is allowed to move from one dot-point to another empty dot-point in any direction. A pawn is captured when one player finds a chance to deal or move to an empty dot-point by leaping over the pawns of the other player. In Sholo Guti, a pawn can make two technical moves. One is a Strategic move (Chaal Deoa) and another is the Beaten move (Khaoa chaal). A Strategic move ensures that the player’s own pawns or guti are safe, by using one’s own pawns to create an attacking net and provoking the opponent to make a mistake or wrong move. A Beaten move occurs if one player’s pawn leaps over another pawn. As the game progresses, a player loses the game if he/she lost all his/her 16 pawns or if he/she does not find any more empty dot-points to move to.