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Updated on January 20, 2010
Photo by Thad Zajdowicz
Photo by Thad Zajdowicz

Checkers, or draughts, is one of the oldest of table games. A game of this kind was known to the Greeks and Romans and various monuments represent the ancient Egyptians engaged in a similar amusement. It became common in Europe during the 16th century. The game is played by two persons on a board similar to that used for chess, i.e. a square board containing 64 squares, checkered in black and white alternately.

Each player has 12 'men' in the form of circular discs, one set being black and the other white. These men are arranged on the three rows directly before each player. They may be placed either on the black or the white squares, but the extreme left-hand square in front of each player must always be occupied. Lots are cast to decide which color each player shall.have, and black plays first. The players then change colors after each game. The men move diagonally, one square at a time, so that play continues entirely on squares of one color. If a man comes next to a man of the opposite side he is unable to move past unless there be a vacant square on the other side of his adversary's man, in which case he must jump over his man and occupy the vacant square, removing his enemy's man from the board. If, after taking a man in this way, it is possible for him to jump another man, taking this one also, he must do so in the same move.

In the rare event of a player neglecting to take when the opportunity is given him, his adversary may either take the checker piece with which the capture would have been made (a procedure known as 'huffing'), or compel him to revoke his last move and perform the capture. He may also, if he wish, allow the move to stand. If a player gets one of his men into his adversary's back line, this man becomes a 'king', and is 'crowned' by having another man of the same color put on top of him. The king may move (or capture) either backwards or forwards, whereas the ordinary men can move only forwards, but this is the only privilege he has. If a player touches a piece, he must move it if possible.

The game is won by a player removing all his adversary's men from the board or by his placing them in such a position that they cannot move.


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