Checkers is one of the first games I ever learned how to play. It is supposed to be lighthearted and fun, but there are some serious players out there who abide quite strictly to the rules of the game. Checkers (or “Draughts” as it is called in the United Kingdom) is played in many pubs and taverns throughout the world. It can be as serious or as silly a game as you want it to be. It is not as involved or as complicated as Chess, mainly because all the pieces on the board must abide by the same rules of movement—you can only go forward unless you're a King. In this section, you will find some of the fun and serious rules that govern this game. But in the end, it's all just fun.
The game of Checkers, as we know it today, is believed to date back to about 1400 B.C.E. But an even older relative of the game was found in the ruins of an ancient Iraqi city called “Ur” and is believed to date back as far as 3000 B.C.E. Checkers today is a two-person game. The object is to move one's pieces (round red and black disks often made of plastic or wood) across the checkered board. The goal is to jump the opponent's pieces, and remove them from the board, in an effort to win back one's players and remove every opposing piece from the board.
Checkers sets can be purchased at any retail toy and game store and come in a variety of sizes. There are standard boards, travel-sized, and computerized versions of the game.
The standard checkers board is the same as the chessboard. It's comprised of 64 squares of equal size and alternately colored light and dark (sometimes black and white, sometimes black and red). The board is set up the same way as the chessboard, with the light colored square in the bottom right corner facing you.
Piece by Piece
Checkers pieces are also light and dark in color. They are round disks made of plastic or wood in most store-bought games. The standard playing piece is about an inch in diameter, but the travel games have smaller, often magnetized pieces so they don't slip around when you're in a moving vehicle.
With the light-colored square in the lower-right corner facing you, place your playing pieces on the alternate black squares. You opponent should do the same. When the board is set up and ready to go, you should both have your Checkers on the first 12 squares of the board on both your sides. You should choose who gets to be black or white (or red, depending on the set you own) by flipping a coin or any other means agreeable to both players. Unlike Chess, black always goes first in Checkers.
Making the Moves
In Checkers the moves are made on diagonals, so the first player moves his black piece one square on the diagonal. The pieces can be moved in either direction provided there is a vacant black square.
There are very few ways to move the checkers across the board in the beginning of the game, but the game can really heat up once you've made it from one side of the board to the other. Here are some of the ways you can move your pieces during the course of the game.
It's in the Cards
A capture is a move made in Checkers where you “jump” your opponent's piece and remove it from the game board, thereby “capturing” the other side's checkers piece by piece.
If your opponent's piece occupies one of the adjacent squares and there is a vacant square immediately behind it, then you can, and must, capture your opponent's piece. You can never move your piece onto an occupied square.
You can capture more than one piece at a time if there are vacant squares behind each of these pieces and you can make the jumps in one consecutive move. If you can make a capture, you must do so. However, if you have a choice of more than one capture, you don't have to choose the one that will capture the most pieces. You can choose whichever capture you want. But if you begin the capture, you must complete it. You can't decide halfway through the play that you want to stop or go back. You must capture all the pieces that are available for the taking in your move. You can only make captures in a forward direction unless your piece has been crowned.
A play is complete when you remove your hand from the playing piece.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Family Games © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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