Checkers, or Draughts, as some people call it, is a fun game suitable for the whole family. While it helps to while away many hours and provides immense satisfaction when you win (for me, at least), just how much do you really know about the game?
I am somewhat proud to call myself a Checkers enthusiast, but I have to admit that until I did the research for this post, I did not really know too much about it. Learning about Checkers (not just the rules) was both a fun and interesting experience for me. Keep in mind that I have played Checkers since I was a child and, yet, did not have much knowledge of its background. So, now you have the opportunity to know more than I ever did.
To find out what I learned and to expand your knowledge on the game of Checkers, read on. Here is my top pick of 16 interesting Checkers facts …
16 fun and interesting facts about Checkers (Draughts):
1. Historians believe that Checkers dates back to 3000 BC.
I always knew that Checkers was a few thousand years old, but I never had any idea just how old. You might be surprised to find that Checkers is far older than you imagined – I certainly was. In fact, it has been traced by archaeologists all the way back to the very beginning of civilization.
Now, you are probably wondering where the first evidence of Checkers ever turned up. In Iraq, there is a city called Ur, which was part of Mesopotamia. Here is where the oldest version of Checkers is said to have been found. The artifact has a carbon date of around 3000 BC.
2. The name “draughts” comes from the verb meaning draw or move.
3. Checkers is played on the very same board as Chess.
Both Checkers and Chess are played on an 8×8 board with 64 squares. The board features light and dark squares. If you want to play a game of Checkers and do not have a board, you can always use a Chessboard.
4. The game is based on an ancient game called Alquerque.
Alquerque is sometimes also called Qirkat. It is a 2-person game that is played on a Checkers board. The game was created in the Middle East and is called the “parent” of Checkers.
5. In the 13th Century, the rule of crowning was introduced.
In a game of Checkers, when a player’s piece makes it to the other side of the board and becomes a King, it is crowned by putting one of the captured pieces on top of it. According to the book “Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations”, Philip Mouskat, the author of a rhymed chronical called Chronique, mentioned that crowning was introduced to the game of Draughts (it was actually called Fierges then) in 1243. Prior to that, there is no mention of crowning.
6. The rule of having to jump when there is opportunity was only introduced in 1535.
Before 1535, Checkers, as we know it today and as it was played then, had slight differences. That is why the game went by a different name back then. According to R.C. Bell, It was in 1535 that the English version of Checkers we know today came into existence. This was because it was the year when the rule forcing players to take possession whenever possible was introduced in France. When this change was introduced, the game changed from being called Fierges to being called Jeu force.
7. In 1994, for the first time, a computer program became the “Checkers World Champion”.
That year Chinook, a computer program developed at the University of Alberta, was proclaimed as the Checkers Man-Machine World Champion.
8. It’s a “solved” game.
In 2007, after more than 18 years, the game of checkers was solved by a group of scientists, lead by Jonathan Schaeffer from the University of Alberta in Canada. This means that the game, when played perfectly by both sides, will end on a draw (stalemate).
9. World English Draughts tournaments started in the 1840s.
It was only in 1840 that the very first World Championship for English Draughts was held. The majority of winners have been from the United Kingdom and the United States.
10. Kids usually learn Checkers before they learn Chess.
While Checkers and Chess are not the same game, they do have similarities, and this is why certain parents teach their kids Checkers first. It’s believed that not only kids find it easier to learn Checkers than Chess, but also find that it is easier to learn Chess when they have already learned Checkers. Checkers prepares a child’s mind for the type of strategic thinking and patience that is required in Chess.
11. There are different sizes of Checkers boards.
The 8×8 Checkers board is typically used for English draughts (also known as American checkers). While the 10×10 Checkers board is used for international draughts or polish draughts. It must be noted that the traditional 8×8 board is still the most popular.
12. Marion Tinsley was considered the greatest Checkers player of all time.
Marion Tinsley played professional Checkers for a whopping 45 years. During those years, he only lost less than 10 games. He died in 1995 as one of the greatest Checkers players of all time.
13. In 1952, Arthur Samuel created a groundbreaking Checkers program.
Nowadays, it is not uncommon for people to play Checkers online, as well as by themselves. That is, in part, thanks to Arthur Lee Samuel, who created, arguably, one of the first computer programs to play Checkers in 1952. Over the years, the computerized Checkers programs have greatly improved.
14. Chinese Checkers has little in common with Checkers and was only called “Chinese Checkers” as an advertising ploy.
The game of Chinese Checkers is very misleading. It is believed that at the time of Chinese Checkers being released, the marketers thought that calling it “Chinese Checkers” would grab the attention of Checkers enthusiasts and give the game an oriental spin. That said, Chinese Checkers has nothing to do with Checkers and was created by German designers.
15. Checkers is a game for 2.
If you are looking for a team sport/game, Checkers is not it. While many board games are focused on group entertainment, it appears that Checkers was only designed with 2 players in mind.
16. Time limits apply to the game of checkers.
When playing certain Checkers tournaments, players are only given 5 minutes per move. However, if there is a jump opportunity – which a player has to take by “law” – they are only given 1 minute to do so.
Checkers – A Fun & Interesting Game for the Whole Family
As you can see, there is more to Checkers (Draughts) than meets the eye. These fun facts certainly tell a tale of how Checkers has grown and changed over the years. I found these facts most interesting and so I did some extra digging to learn a bit more. I hope you enjoyed them.
With that being said, the possibility that Checkers has been around since 3000 BC is a testament to the entertainment value of the game. If you have been thinking about getting a Checkers board and playing with your family, take the time to learn the rules, understand the background, and just have fun.