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Men playing checkers

Checkers or draughts is the name of several different board games. All of these games are similar. In every kind of checkers, the other player's pieces can be taken by being "jumped" over.

"Checkers" is the American name. In British English, and in various other English-speaking nations, these games are called "draughts."

The rules and championships are controlled by the World Draughts Federation.


Checkers dates back to the 12th century, in France.[1] Later, maybe in 1535, a new rule was added: when a player can jump, he must jump. No single inventor is known for this ancient game, although Arthur L. Samuel was the first to create a checkers computer game in 1952. [2]


Pieces when game starts

In most games of checkers, there are two players. The players are at opposite ends of the board. One player has dark pieces, and one player has light pieces. They take turns moving their pieces. Players move their pieces diagonally from one square to another square. When a player jumps over their opponent's (the other player's) piece, you take that piece from the board.

English draughts

British people call the game "draughts". English draughts is played on an 8x8 chess board. Only the dark squares are used: the light squares are never used.

  • Pieces. The pieces are flat and round. They are referred to as "men". They are usually colored red and white. For this reason, the darker pieces are usually called "Red" and the lighter pieces are always called "White." Some checkers sets have red and black pieces. Then the red pieces are called "White" and the black pieces "Red." And many sets simply use black and white draughts. There are two kinds of pieces: plain (single) pieces and "kings". A king is made by putting one plain piece on top of another.
  • Starting position. Each player starts with 12 pieces on the three rows closest to their own side. The row closest to each player is called the "King Row". The darker colour moves first.
  • How to move. A player can move in two ways. A piece can be moved forward, diagonally, to the very next dark square. In some variants, if one player's piece, the other player's piece, and an empty square are lined up, then the first player must "jump" the other player's piece. In this case, the first player jumps over the other player's piece onto the empty square and takes the other player's piece off the board. However, this is an uncommon ruleset not commonly observed in the Americas. A player can also use one piece to make multiple jumps in any one single turn, provided each jump continues to lead immediately into the next jump and in a straight line. Sometimes a player may have the option or a choice of which opponent piece he must jump. In such cases, he may then choose which to jump. If you keep your hand on any piece when you're moving, you have the choice to put it back and move another piece.
  • Kings. If a player's piece moves into the King Row on the other player's side, it becomes a king. It can move forward and backward. (Regular pieces can only move forward.) A king cannot jump out of the King Row until the next turn. In English draughts, a king's only advantage over a man is the ability to move and capture backwards as well as forwards.
  • How the game ends. The first player to lose all of his or her pieces loses the game. If a player is put in a position where they cannot move, they lose.[3] If the players have the same amount of pieces, the player with the most kings wins. If the players have an equal number of pieces and the same number of kings the game is a draw.


  1. Murray H.J.R. 1951. A history of board games other than chess. Oxford University Press, p72. IBSN 0-19-827401-7
  2. Neil Obdgen, 2010, No single inventor is known for this ancient game, although Arthur L. Samuel was the first to create a checkers computer game in 1952..
  3. "Checkers rules". Darkfish website. Retrieved 22 November 2014.

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