Traditional Board Games


A traditional-style draughts board, set out for play.
A traditional-style draughts board, set out for play.

Called "checkers" in North America, draughts is a game of pure skill between two players. There are many regional variations on draughts, but the one described here is that played in English-speaking countries.

Each player has twelve pieces, and play takes place on a chess board. Pieces advance to meet the enemy, and capture by jumping. Pieces reaching the edge are promoted to kings, and may move backwards as well as advancing. The player who captures all opposing pieces wins the game.

History of Draughts

Draughts is a marriage of mediaeval chess and alquerque. From chess, draughts took the chequered board, the idea of restricted forward movement and the move of the king (which moves like the mediaeval chess queen). From alquerque it took the single-step movement and the method of capture by jumping.

The game is said to be invented in mediaeval times, perhaps in the twelfth century. Its probable place of origin is southern Europe. Since its invention in early mediaeval times it has spread and diversified, each country having its own preferred rules, and some countries having enlarged boards of 10x10 or even 12x12 squares. The version played in English-speaking countries preserves one of the earliest sets of rules.

Rules for Draughts

Rules for Draughts
1. Beginning the game: draughts is played by two people using twelve counters each, placed on the dark squares of an 8x8 chess board. The player taking the black counters moves first, followed by white, play alternating thereafter.

2. Moving the pieces: a piece moves one step diagonally forwards. On reaching the far side of the board, the piece becomes a king, a spare piece being placed on top of it to distinguish it from ordinary men. A king may move one step diagonally forwards or backwards.

3. Capturing enemies: a man captures an adjacent enemy by jumping (diagonally) forwards over it to land on the empty space beyond. The man may make further jumps if he has landed in a position to do so. A king may jump in any of the four directions. Captures are compulsory: if a player makes a non-capture move when captures are available, his opponent may (a) ignore the fact, (b) remove one of the pieces that could have made a capture, or (c) force the player to take back his move and make the capture.

4. Ending the game: the game is over when one player has no piece left or has pieces left but cannot move, his opponent winning the game. The game may also be declared a draw by both players if they feel neither can win (e.g. when both players are reduced to a single king).

Play draughts against the computer


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