Puluc

Puluc is a two-player running fight game played by the Kekchi (Qeqchi) Indians of Guatemala. It is played on a track or road which is made by placing 10 corncobs on the ground about 3 inches apart. The pieces are placed on the spaces between the corncobs. The dice are made from corn grains with one side marked or scorched. Puluc is very similar to the game of Bul played in Belize.

The players move their pieces up and down the road attempting to capture their opponent’s pieces. The form of capture is unique because the captured piece is not immediately removed but instead is placed under the capturing piece and is then moved with the capturing piece to its home position where it then removed from the board.

Rules

The board is a track made up of 9 spaces as shown in Figure 1. Each player has five pieces, usually small stones or sticks using any shape or color to distinguish between players. The players sit opposite each other across the road and the home position for each team is to their left.

The four dice are made from four grains of corn marked on one side. The throw count is determined by the number of dice with their marks showing upwards.
Puluc board
Figure 1: Puluc board
Dice with mark upwards Count
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
0 5

The first players of both teams throw the dice to decide who starts the game. The player with the highest throw starts.

The players take turns to throw the dice and move one piece along the road from space to space according to the throw count. The players enter their pieces at opposite ends of the road from the home position and move in opposite directions (shown by the arrows in Figure 1). A player may either move a piece or enter another piece onto the road. A player must not move a piece onto a space occupied by one of his own pieces.

When the piece has reached the other end of the road it is moved back to its home position again. When the piece reaches its home position it is available at a subsequent turn to be moved on another lap down the road. It is not necessary to throw an exact number to enter the home position.

Capture

If a piece lands on a space occupied by that of an opponent, the opponent’s piece is captured. The capturing piece is placed on top of the captured piece to form a stack. On his next turn the capturing player starts to move the stack of pieces back along the road towards his home position the number of spaces indicated by the throw count. When the capturing player reaches the home position the captured piece is removed from the board.

If a piece lands on a stack consisting of a capturing piece and a captured piece, the stack is itself captured and now reverses back the road towards the home position of the capturing piece with the capturing piece on top. When this stack reaches the home position the pieces belonging to the capturing player are "liberated" and may be re-entered onto the track in later turns.

There may be any number of captures and re-captures. A stack may be captured by another stack.

The game ends when the winner has captured all their adversary’s pieces.