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How to Play Checkers

May 30th, 2013 Games

Dating as far back as ancient Mesopotamia, according to CheckersHistory.com, checkers could be the oldest game in existence that's still played regularly. Comprised of a 64-square board with 12 little plastic discs per player, chess is known as "draughts" in Europe and ends when one player has eliminated all of his or her opponent's pieces.

Outlining the rules of the game, CheckersHistory.com points out that - as most sets of checkers feature red and black pieces - the player with the black pieces should go first and move one piece forward, diagonally to an empty square. This is how all the checkers pieces move.

Players can "capture" their opponent's pieces if one is positioned one square diagonally next to them. If nothing's occupying the space one diagonal square behind the disc being captured, the piece making the offensive move must "jump" over the disc and land in the empty square. Repeated jumps are allowed if every other square between two or more of the opponent's pieces is empty.

Checkers pieces are only allowed to move forward until they reach the end of the board. Not unlike pawns in chess, checkers discs are upgraded if they complete the journey to the other side of their battlefield. When a checkers piece is "crowned" or "kinged" in this way, players will often stack another disc on top of the triumphant piece to signify its newfound nobility.

Strategies for checkers
The basics of checkers should be easy for most people to understand, but mastering the game is another story. MSN provides some helpful hints. For one example, the news source explains that before capturing an opponent's piece, it's a good idea to make sure the move won't put any of your own discs is jeopardy of being captured by your opponent. If you have multiple checkers capable of making a capture, think about which one will land in the most advantageous spot before the move. MSN notes that, most of all, players should keep a close eye on any kinged checkers their opponents may be using.

But as is the case with most things, becoming a formidable checkers player requires plenty of trial and error. In an essay appearing on Checkerschest.com, noted boardgamer Irving Chernev explains that checkers expertise comes with commitment, strategy, research and plenty of games. He specifically recommends finding players whose skill levels outmatch your own, as playing against individuals whose checkers know-how is more polished may be one of the most effective ways of improving.

Another essay published on the American Checker Federation website, penned by the deceased former U.K. checkers champion Derek Oldbury, notes that due to the limitless number of ways in which a checkers game could be played, no one has come up with a foolproof mathematical strategy for winning. This means no one is unbeatable. Although, beginner players thinking about taking on one of the masters may want to consider reading a book on the subject first.

"Knowledge is power in checkers," wrote Oldbury. "If you know the correct moves in a position not even the champions can deny you. The player who spurns all book lore and relies on his own cross-board effort alone reminds one of the musician who plays by ear."