Checkers is one of the more popular abstract strategy games worldwide, the others being chess, backgammon, and battleship. The two-player game is played on an eight-by-eight checkered board similar to the one used in chess. The objective of the game is to eliminate all the pieces of your opponent by capturing them, or leaving them with no legal moves. A draw between the players is also an accepted outcome.
Each player starts with 12 pieces on the dark colored space on their respective sides, placed diagonally from each other, occupying the first three rows of the board. Every piece can move forward in a diagonal motion one space at a time, and can capture an opponent’s piece by jumping over them. Successive jumps are allowed (multiple single-piece jumps done in succession).
Once a piece reaches the other side of the board, it is then ‘kinged,’ which means the piece is now allowed to move backward in addition to moving forward. Note that the moves are still one space at a time diagonally, and capturing a piece still follows the same rules for both forward and backward. In some variations, though, kinged pieces can move several spaces diagonally.
Since the pieces only move diagonally, only the dark squares on the board are used. The squares are numbered 1 to 32 to define their location. The notation for movement of pieces in checkers is determined by two digits (24-19 or 8-3), the first number as the origin, and the second as a destination.
Think you got that? It’s time to test your understanding! There are plenty of free online checker games, against computers or another player. Sites such as www.prongo.com provide online checkers games among many other free board and trivia games on their site.
Online games offer varying degrees of proficiency from the computer opponent. Why don’t you try the following tips to beat the computer?
- Try to gain an advantage by “kinging” your pieces first. This should give you the benefit of attacking from behind. However, be wary of rushing in to enemy territory without a solid plan.
- Avoid moves to the sides of the board. This limits the movements of your pieces to one direction, instead of two. However, this could play as a part in your strategy by setting up a trap.
- If you are ahead in number, it is wise to have a 1-for-1 exchange of pieces. Minimizing the number of pieces on the board toward the end game increases your chances of winning if you are ahead by at least one checker.
- Similar to the tip above, if you are lagging by at least a checker, be prudent to exchange your remaining pieces.
- If a jump or capture is available, the opposing player must do the capture. Player cannot refuse do a capture. If a jump is not done, the piece is removed from the game.
- Note that a stalemate in chess ends in a draw, but here in checkers, a player with no legal moves loses the game.
Playing checkers can be a relaxing opportunity, whether you play against a human opponent or a computer. It can also be a challenging game, if you prefer strategy over fun.