Now play Sorkalam, the Tamil answer to Scrabble


The past week has been too eventful for R.Santhanakrishnan and Preetha Raghavan, a Chennai-based couple, who have come up with a Tamil equivalent of the popular board game Scrabble called ‘Sorkalam‘. The game recently went on sale and the couple have received several orders from across the country.

“We got the idea for a Tamil word game about four years ago when we sat down to play Scrabble with our daughter. Preetha and I realized that it would not be possible to reproduce everything from the English version of the game, because it would be too cumbersome, ”said Mr. Santhanakrishnan, who works as a consultant in data analysis and artificial intelligence.

His experience with text analysis turned out to be a great boon to them and they quickly began to use these techniques to explore and study the structure of the language and how they would need to integrate it into the game.

“We made a prototype of the game with pen and paper in which we cut small squares out of cardboard and wrote the letters on them to use them as tiles. It helped us tremendously to get the Uyir-mei ezuthu suit that we ultimately focused on to be a part of the game, ”said Ms. Preetha, an entrepreneur. As part of this process, the couple engaged several other board game connoisseurs that they connected with via Twitter, to play the game using their prototype and incorporated their comments.

The version of the game currently on sale includes a 17×17 board, 90 wooden tiles with Tamil letters, 55 symbol tiles and 20 blank tiles. “The board we chose is larger than the one used for Scrabble because the Tamil letters are larger and we needed an optimal grid size. The blank letters can be used like any letter on the board and we’ve made sure players can write on them with a sketching pencil while playing, which can then be wiped off, ”they said.

Mr. Santhanakrishnan said that in recent years places in the city for people to meet and play board games have opened up. “It was extremely promising for us and we realized that there are several people who are still interested in board games.”

In recent months, there has also been a resurgence of interest in board games in households due to the lockdown. “We are also extremely excited for the children to sit down with their grandparents and play Sorkalam. It will certainly also help to improve their language skills, ”Ms. Preetha said.

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