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No one is exactly sure how old checkers is, but we do know it has been around a long time – over 500 years, and it is still one of the world's most popular games. You probably never gave much thought to why checkers is played the way it is, why you have to stay on the black squares and can only move one space at a time and only jump over pieces that are next to you. You may have thought this was the only way to play checkers, but it turns out that all of these rules and more have changed from era to era and country to country. Here are some versions you might like to try.

Checkers and Draughts – a quick review

The game the British call draughts has the same rules as American checkers. Pieces move one space diagonally when not capturing and capture by jumping over an opponent's piece. Pieces can only move forward until they reach the back row. After reaching the back row, pieces are promoted to kings and can move forward and backward. The official rules say that you have to capture a piece if you can but many players choose to ignore that rule.
Spanish Checkers

This is probably the experts' choice when it comes to checker games. Spanish checkers looks a lot like American checkers. Both games start the same, with pieces moving forward diagonally one space at a time, both require you to take a capture whenever you can, and in both, a piece gets promoted when it makes it to the back row though in the Spanish game the promoted piece is called a queen instead of a king. Queens in Spanish checkers are much more powerful than kings in American checkers. Queens can move forward and backward along diagonal lines like kings but they can move as far as they want. This can be a big advantage for the first player to get a queen but it can also make the queen easier to trap. When the queen captures an opposing piece, she has to stop on the square just past the captured piece.

Here's an example:

Black has gotten the first queen but white has set a trap for her. She has to take the jump and when she does white has a piece waiting for her.

But if you can't trap a queen she can do a lot of damage.


Greek or Turkish Dama

When you think of checkers, you probably think of a game where you move diagonally (like an X rather than a +) and capture pieces by jumping over them. It turns out that, while all checker games use jumping, not all of them move pieces diagonally.

In Greece or Turkey, checkers move up or down and left or right but not diagonally.

You start a game with 16 pieces placed as shown above. At the start of the game, pieces can move in three directions: left, right and forward. After promotion, queens can move left, right, forward and backward. As in Spanish checkers, queens move as far as she needs.


When capturing, queens stop on the square just after the captured piece.