The game of checkers has been around since at least the 1300s, but it is speculated that the first version may have originated even earlier than this. In many countries it is not called “checkers,” but “draughts,” and there are several variations of play, but this article will focus mainly on the standard U.S. version of the game.
In order to play checkers, you require a playing board consisting of 8 by 8 squares. The squares alternate between dark and light, and there are 32 squares of each color. The board should be positioned so that the players each have a lighter colored square on the nearest right side corner. You will also need to play pieces, which consist of 12 discs of one color and another 12 discs of a different color. Generally, these playing pieces are red and black, but any colors will do.
Checkers is a game for two players only and is turn-based. To set up the game, each player places their pieces on the 12 closest dark squares of the board. Each player’s pieces should be positioned on the three rows nearest to them, and the dark squares are the only spaces that are used for checkers.
The player controlling the black (or otherwise dark-colored) pieces makes the first move. The players then alternate making moves, using the following rules:
-Pieces are only allowed to move diagonally, and only on the darker squares.
-Normally, a piece may only move forward and only one square at a time unless they are jumping. (See below for more on jumping.)
-The aim of the game is to “capture” their opponent’s pieces. This is done by “jumping” – moving a piece to the other side of an opposing piece in a straight line. This can only be possible if there is a free spot for the disc to move to, and the captured piece is then removed from the board.
-If a capturing move puts that same piece in a position to make another capturing move, it is allowed to make that move. As a result, it is possible to make several captures in each turn, until all possible jumps have been made.
-It should be noted that capturing moves are mandatory. If such a move is possible at all, it must be undertaken – this is an integral part of the strategy in checkers. One player must try to force the other to make capturing moves that leave him or her in a worse position. If several capturing moves are possible, the player may choose which of these moves to make.
-If a piece makes it across the board to the furthest row away from the controlling player, it becomes a king piece. It is crowned by placing a second piece on top of it. Kings are still restricted to moving diagonally, but may move backward as well as forward. When capturing, a king may combine both backward and forward jumps in one turn, whereas uncrowned pieces may change direction when making multiple capture moves but must always move forward.
In order to win a game of checkers, one player must make it so that their opponent is not able to make any further moves. It is possible to obtain this result by blocking your opponent’s pieces in but is generally done by capturing all of your opponent’s pieces. Once a player is immobile or completely captured, the game ends.