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What is the Game of Checkers?

By K T Solis
Updated May 23, 2024
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The game of checkers is a game whose roots can be found in ancient civilizations of the world. For example, one of the first versions of the game checkers was unearthed at an archaeological dig in Ur, Iraq. Historians believe the artifact discovered dates from around 3000 BCE. The version from Ur used a different playing board and number of pieces from modern-day checkers. No one knows how the game was actually played.

The ancient Egyptians played a version of the game checkers. Their game was called Alquerque and featured a playing board as well. The game was played in Egypt as early as 1400 BC and was a popular game in that ancient world power. The Egyptian version spread to the Western part of the world where it was played for thousands of years.

In the year 1100, a man in France decided to play checkers on a chess board. The number of pieces was increased to 12 on each side of the playing area. In France, the game was initially called Fierges or Ferses. Then the French decided to add the rule that pieces should jump over each other in order to make the game more difficult. This particular evolution of the game was called Jeu Force.

France established the rules for checkers, and the game traveled to England and the U.S. England called the game Draughts, and books were written in Spain about the game in the 1500s. In 1756, a British mathematician named William Payne wrote a treatise on the game. At any rate, as the centuries progressed the game of checkers continued its popularity.

The game checkers is played on a game board with squares. The squares are arranged in eight columns and eight rows. Checkers is played by two players who compete against each other. They each receive 12 playing pieces, flat disks that are placed on black squares. The checkers are two colors, usually black and red.

The opponent with the black pieces always moves first. After this, players take turns making their moves. The object of the game is to take the majority of the opponent's checkers or maneuver pieces so the opponent is unable to move his own playing pieces.

At first, the pieces can only move forward. They can make two kinds of moves: non-capturing moves and capturing moves. Non-capturing moves involve moving forward diagonally from one square to a connecting square. Capturing moves are executed when a player's piece jumps his opponent's piece. This is accomplished in a diagonal direction and only occurs when the square behind the at-risk piece is also empty.

Pieces can jump several times on a capturing move. When a checker reaches the other side of the board, it is topped with another checker. This means a piece of the same color is placed on top of it. When this happens, the playing piece becomes a king. A king has the power to move both forward and backward.

The game of checkers has endured throughout the centuries, from ancient Iraq to modern times. Today, checkers is played in homes, schools, and community centers throughout the world. A game of strategy that can be played by all ages, checkers is a challenging game that will continue to thrive for years to come.

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Discussion Comments
By Cageybird — On Jan 25, 2014

When I was a kid, I played a lot of checkers and got a little bored after a while. I didn't think it was much of a strategy game, more like reacting to whatever the other player did. I tried playing checkers online a few years ago and the computer won every time. There really is a strategy to the game, especially when you get to the point where kings get involved.

Checkers is a lot like chess. It takes five minutes to learn the rules and a lifetime to master.

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