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by Jocly


Draughts, also called Check­ers: How old is it and what is its ori­gin?

Re­cent his­tor­ic­al in­sights in­dic­ate that the game was cre­ated some­time with­in the time­frame between the year 0 and 500 AD dur­ing the reign of the Ro­man Em­pire.

In the be­gin­ning, the game was played on an alquerque board. After the 14th cen­tury, it was be­ing played on an un­chequered or chequered board with 64 squares. In the second half of the 16th cen­tury, you could find boards with a size of 100 squares. The size of the board had even in­creased to 144 squares in the 19th cen­tury in some places.

As a res­ult of the changes, Draughts evolved from a stra­tegic game to some­thing where strategy and co­ordin­a­tion go hand in hand. Dur­ing the long evol­u­tion of the game, many dif­fer­ent vari­ants have been de­veloped.

For more de­tails about the his­tory of Draughts, vis­it the site of Ar­ie van der Stoep.


In all Draughts vari­ants, the fol­low­ing rules ap­ply:

  • Play­ers take turn by mov­ing one piece
  • Pieces can move to an ad­ja­cent empty po­s­i­tion
  • An ad­ja­cent op­pon­ent piece can be cap­tured by jump­ing over it (which im­plies the next po­s­i­tion is avail­able)
  • When pos­sible, sev­er­al cap­tures can be per­formed at the same round (with the same piece)

In In­ter­na­tion­al Draughts, these ad­di­tion­al rules also ap­ply:

  • Pieces moves only on dark squares
  • Simple pieces can only move for­ward, ex­cept for cap­ture
  • Pro­moted pieces, called kings, can move along any di­ag­on­al
  • After a cap­ture, a king can stop at any avail­able po­s­i­tion on the di­ag­on­al after the cap­tured piece (as­sum­ing skipped po­s­i­tions were free)
  • White starts
  • Cap­ture is com­puls­ory
  • Cap­tured pieces are re­moved after all cap­tures are done
  • If a play­er must choose between sev­er­al cap­ture se­quences, he must choose the one that cap­tures the most op­pon­ent pieces
  • If a piece reaches the last line dur­ing a cap­ture se­quence, it is not pro­moted, un­less the cap­ture fin­ishes on the last line
  • A play­er who can­not play any move loses the game


His­tory lost the name of those who in­ven­ted the Draughts game base, but a few con­trib­ut­ors de­serve to be men­tioned here:

  • Alf­onso X of Castille (1221-1284) for writ­ing the rules of Alquerque for the first time.
  • Philip Mouskat (~1243) for men­tion­ning the crown­ing rule.
  • Robert Charles Bell (1917-2002) for his re­search in board games and draughts in gen­er­al, and for pro­pos­ing im­prove­ments to the rules of Alquerque.

Jocly implementation

De­vel­op­ment: Michel Gu­ti­er­rez (@_mig_)

Graph­ic design: Jérôme Cho­ain (@jc­frog)

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