Riga

Latvia's national game

10 Mar 2020
Latvia’s national game novuss looks like a mix of billiards and shuffleboard, but it’s widely believed that the roughly 1m² birch table with four pockets and its circular wooden pieces are based on the Indian game of carrom, which was adapted by Latvian and Estonian sailors in the early 20th century. Up to four people can participate, but it’s usually played one on one. Each player is given a large wooden disk often called a mamma (mum or mother), which is essentially the equivalent of a cue ball, and this must be struck with a cue to sink eight smaller discs in any of the four pockets. Although the game can become more complicated if you sink your opponents’ discs or knock a disc off of the table, the first person to sink all eight of his or her discs wins. Unfortunately, it’s become quite difficult to find a bar these days in Riga with a novuss table, but you can always play Latvia’s national game in the basement of the Aussie Pub in Old Riga and at the Bams billiards hall.

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