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When a piece reaches the opposite extreme end of the board, that piece becomes a King. To recognize the King, the piece is “crowned” by the opponent with one of the captured pieces. So, for example, if you are red and your piece makes it to the opposite side of the board, your opponent (the player with the black pieces) must place a captured red piece on top of your piece—like a crown. When the player is crowned, the play is complete. That crowned piece cannot move until your opponent makes his or her play. Once a piece is crowned, it has the power to move backward and forward on the board, but like any other piece, the King must capture when the occasion arises.

When I was a kid we used to get very excited when we had the first piece to make it to the opposite end of the board. We shouted “King me! King me!” and clapped our hands in excitement. There was nothing like that little thrill of power, knowing that you now had the only piece on the board that could move in any direction. It became a little less novel when there were several Kings on the board from both sides, however. That's when you really had to concentrate.

Huff or Blow

Because a play is complete when you remove your hand from your piece, if you fail to capture all the pieces from the board that should have been captured, your opponent may remove the piece that should have done the capturing. This is called the “huff” or “blow” and is not considered the opponent's move. So be very careful not to “blow” it and be sure to think out your moves carefully before you remove your hand from your piece. One false move and you will not only have blown the move, but forfeited a potentially valuable piece. The opponent in this case also has the power to “huff,” meaning that he can choose to let the piece stay on the board. Watch this maneuver—it may mean the opponent has a trick up his sleeve.

Don't Touch!

In most Checkers matches, played casually at home or on a car ride, many of the stricter rules are not really enforced. But there are some rules in Checkers that you should be aware of should you begin a match with a savvy opponent.

You may not touch any of the pieces on the board in an effort to arrange them on their squares. Sometimes the checkers move around on the board and there's a temptation to set them straight. The rules say that you cannot touch any piece out of turn unless you both agree to it. If one player touches a piece without a previous discussion, then the player may be required to forfeit the game.

When it is your turn and you touch your piece, you must play it or forfeit the game. When the piece is not playable, the game must be forfeited according to the rule on arranging the pieces on the board. Be very careful before you touch a piece! Your opponent may not know this rule, but because you know it now, you may want to discuss this and other rules with your opponent before you start to play. It all depends on how seriously you want to play the game.

Three Strikes

A player must move his piece within five minutes of his turn. If you can't move or can't decide on a move, you must forfeit the game due to improper play.

The Win

The game is won when you capture all your opponents' pieces or when you force him or her into a position of immobility.

A draw is declared when neither player can force a win and no other moves are possible.

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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.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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