Checkers: Rules and Official Gameplay Instructions

If you’re looking for a strategy board game that has been played since 3,000BC, then Checkers is for you. Learn all you could want to know about this fantastic strategic game and find out all the Checkers rules and official gameplay instructions. 

Many of us will immediately recognize a Checkers board – after all, it’s where the name comes from. The black and white checks that make up this board may well tantalize and thrill in equal measure, especially if you’ve never gotten round to playing a game of this wonderful game.

Played with 2 players, the aim of the game is to try and get your opponent to run out of pieces or block them off on the board so that they can’t move anymore. If both of you run out of pieces or can no longer move, it’s a tie. 

So whether you have never played Checkers before or you want a refresher on the rules, we’ll take you through how to play Checkers.

What is Checkers?

Checkers Board Game Info Image

Checkers, which is sometimes occasionally known as Draughts, is a game that is played all over the world and has been around for almost as long as the human race has been civilized. 

It’s a thoroughly strategic game that involves each player pre-empting the other players’ moves in order to win the game.

The modern game of Checkers as we know it today is derived from an Arabic game called Alquerque, which was first recorded back in the 11th Century. Hence, the version we have today isn’t quite what the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt played! 

The rules, however, have not changed a considerable amount in the intervening centuries, which is quite a remarkable feat.

While the rules themselves are pretty straightforward, the game comes into its own with the many different tactics and strategic elements that you can use. These strategies and tactics will help you to win the game and defeat your opponent. 

Number of Players: 2 players.

Ages: 8+

Difficulty: Easy.

Length of Play: Depending on how well you strategize, games can last as long as an hour. Beginners might have games that last around 15-20 minutes, though.

Similar To: Mastermind; Chess; Backgammon; Crockinole

Main Objective: To get as many pieces from your opponent as possible.

Why We Love It: It’s a game that our ancestors probably enjoyed and that people across the globe still enjoy to this day. Suitable for adults and children alike, work out some strategies and come out victorious.

Related: 14 games similar to Chess

Playing Checkers – What You’ll Need

To play Checkers, you’re going to need a Checkers set. This will give you everything that you need to play Checkers. 

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A standard Checkers set should contain the following items:

  • A game board (consisting of 8 squares by 8 squares)
  • 24 Checkers pieces (usually 12 black pieces and 12 white pieces)

If you already have a chessboard, you’ll be able to repurpose this for Checkers really quickly – the checks on the board are the main thing you need. However, you’ll need to get some Checkers pieces separately if you want to use your pre-existing chessboard.

Checkers Rules

First of all, you’ll need to set up your Checkers board. Place it carefully on a large, flat surface, and then place the checkers on the game board. 

Each player should place their Checkers pieces, depending on what color they are, on the 12 dark squares that make up the first 3 rows in front of them.

This will result in 6 of the 8 rows having Checkers pieces spaced out on them, with 2 rows in the middle of the board being left empty. 

Gameplay Instructions

Next, you need to decide who goes first. You can decide this however you like – flipping a coin or having the youngest go first are good ways of deciding who makes the first move. You then need to decide if you’re going to time your moves. 

In professional Checkers matches, each player is permitted 5 minutes per move. This can give some momentum to the game. 

Moving Your Pieces

You can only move your Checkers pieces diagonally by one space at a time, towards your opponent. As the game progresses, this can change, but to start off with, your Checkers pieces must move from black square to black square.

‘Jumping’ Your Opponent’s Pieces

If one of your opponent’s pieces has an empty space on the other side of it, you can ‘jump’ it and remove it from the board. 

You can take multiple jumps on a turn, capturing other pieces if you are able to. In addition, if you are able to make a jump, then you have to make it. The pieces to the side of the board are the most valuable as they can’t be ‘jumped.’

Becoming a King

Once a Checkers piece makes it to the other side of the board (often referred to as the ‘King Row’), this piece becomes a king. You stack another piece on top of this to mark it. King pieces can move and capture forwards and backward and can make multiple jumps on the same go. They still have to move diagonally, though. 

Winning the Game

The game is one when your opponent cannot make any more moves or has had all their pieces captured. It’s more common to capture and take away all the opponent’s pieces, so try building up your strategy and tactics to learn how you can eventually block any further movement from your opponent!

How to Play Checkers – Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly asked questions about Checkers’ rules and gameplay instructions.

Is Checkers harder than chess?

By definition, Checkers is much harder to play than chess, as it requires much more strategy and tactics.

Can you capture a king in Checkers?

Generally, a king cannot be captured by an ordinary piece. Only another king can capture a king.

What is a triple king in Checkers, and how are they made?

Some rules of Checkers involve the creation of what’s known as a triple king. This is when you take your king from the opponent’s side of the board all the way back to your side of the board. A triple king doesn’t get any additional powers, however.

How many kings can you get in Checkers?

In essence, you’re able to get 24 kings in Checkers, if your opponent doesn’t manage to capture any of your pieces. This is nearly impossible to do though!

Alternative Games to Checkers

Checkers is an ancient and well-loved game played all over the world. The rules are easy to learn, and every game is different as you try to develop your tactics and work out your next steps to attain victory.

That being said, it may not be for you, so if you’re looking for an alternative, we can make some recommendations. As we mentioned, it is similar to, but much easier than chess. If you want to try out another game that involves plenty of strategy, and where your moves are based on your opponent’s, then you should give Carcassonne a go.

You May Also Like: Bagatelle Game rules

Similarly, if you like the tension that Checkers can build up to, then Topple is an ideal alternative. A great combination of strategy and dexterity, Topple will certainly be a welcome change from Checkers.

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