Tower of tiles

Muhammad Ibrahim Ibne Towhid writes how the rural game of Satchada evolved to other popular games in urban areas

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In the age of mobile apps, anyone would feel that Satchada (seven tiles) is possibly the name of some game or similar app. However, adults who were born till the early 90s would be able to tell that this traditional game is more entertaining than any mobile game.

The game requires at least eight players to form two teams. The teams are formed as players gather in an open space or a field. A traditional term for forming the team is known as ‘sham bata’ (splitting mates).

Apart from the teams, the game requires a ball (a tennis or rubber ball) and seven tiles. The pieces of titles need to be thin, even and light in weight. The stones or tiles are piled up one over the other to form a small pillar. Now one team are the strikers while the other becomes the ‘defenders’ of the pillar.

If Team A is defending the pillar, they will stand around it. Members of Team B stand at a distance. A member from Team B comes in turns, takes aim and throws the ball at the tower of tiles to break it down.

The real excitement of the game starts now. While few members of team A become busy at rebuilding the tower, other members of the team try to hit any and all members of Team B with the ball. On the other hand team B members try to save themselves from these shots, all the while trying to break down the tower after getting their hands on the ball.

If Team A can hit any player with the ball, they get a point. Team B earns a point if any member succeeds to completely separate the seven tiles. When the tiles are completely separated, the teams exchange their roles and the game continues. At the end of an even round, the points are counted and the team with the highest points wins the match.

It is tough to say who invented the game or the exact time when children in rural areas began playing this. Although the game was popularly played with a tennis ball or a rubber ball, in the past, children used to make balls with mud and ropes.

Throwing the ball at one another is an excitement but one ought to be careful. The ball hitting someone hard may cause a severe injury or a player may be seriously wounded if the ball hits the eye or abdomen. For these reasons, hitting the abdomen or in the face is not allowed and called a foul. Many a times, rules are also set so that no player can hit from a close distance say less than ten feet.

Children in urban areas have played this game. But around the 90s, most began to play an adapted version of it. While excluding the tower of tiles, only the game of hitting each other with the ball became popular. This game was known by many names including ‘ball busting’, bomb busting’ or ‘bomb fight’.

In this game, two teams of children try to hit members of the opposing team with the ball. Members of the same team can pass the ball to one another in order to reach an opponent.

Tanvir Fahim, a university student, recalls, ‘During my school days, we used to play this game called bomb busting around the afternoons. We played this game mostly when we could not manage a cricket bat to play a cricket match or even when our cricket match was over soon and we had some extra time in hand. I still remember that if I had a fight or disliked someone, I would try to hit him hard with the ball. It was a cunning way to take a revenge!’

In many places this game has been played in other forms. However, many children today or their parents do not know the rules of playing the game of ‘seven tiles’.