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How to Win at Checkers (Draughts): 20 Tips & Strategies for Beginners!

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Set for a board game of checkers

I am no newbie to Checkers, but I always find that there is something new to learn by watching other pro players at “work”, or at least listening to their finest tricks and tips of the trade. I wish someone had been available to teach me a few tips and strategies to boost my skills when I first started playing Checkers (or Draughts as some people call it). To help the beginners just starting out, I have decided to piece together some of my best tips for playing a great game of Checkers

Sprucing up your Checkers skills is something that takes time. As a beginner, you must try to learn as much as possible, practice whenever you can, and keep an open mind to learn new strategies. The more you play Checkers, the easier it will become to win.

While doing a bit of research into the best tips and strategies for beginners, I actually learned one or two new things myself. That just goes to show that regardless of how good you get or long you have played, there is always an opportunity to refresh your skills. Below are 20 top tips and strategies that every newbie Checkers player should know.

Brown wooden chessboard with classic checkers

These are 20 Checkers (Draughts) tips (tricks) and strategies for beginners:

1. Get a copy of the Checkers rules and familiarize yourself with them.

The first step before you even sit at a Checkers board should be to read the rules. It might seem complex at first because you aren’t familiar with the board, pieces, and Checkers’ terms, but it will all fall into place (or “click”) when you play your first game. The more you know about the rules, the better your start will be.

2. Use free online resources to learn as much as possible.

There’s no better way to get value out of your Checkers game than to do a bit of online research. You have read the online articles and rules, now it’s time to watch some videos and tutorials that can show you the game in action. You might be surprised by what you pick up in these videos. It’s also easier to learn something when it’s visual. 

3. Practice as much as possible – even alone.

You can know all the rules and have a few tricks up your sleeve, but if you never practice in real life, chances are that you won’t win. You never know what you are going to be faced with in a game of Checkers. The more you practice physically playing the game, the more you will become familiar with it.

playing checkers alone

4. Memorize specific opening sequences. 

There are several helpful openings that you should learn as a beginner, like the well known “Old Faithful”. Also, it will stand you in good stead to memorize specific board states from the mid-game and end-game as well. 

5. Keep your back row solid for as long as possible.

The back row is where your opponent has to get to, in order to crown pieces. If the back row is solid, no pieces can be crowned. Of course, you will need to move these pieces at some point, but try to hang onto that back row for as long as possible.

6. Focus on controlling the middle of the board.

Controlling the center of the board puts you in a position of advantage. It means that you can move to the left or right as needed. How many pieces should be controlling the center of the board? Use as many pieces as it takes to ensure that your opponent can only advance on the left or right edge.

7. Play offensively.

Playing defensively instead of offensively really puts you at a disadvantage. This is because the opponent can use a forced move to present you with a capture, which, as you know, you have to take. This can result in losing pieces quicker than anticipated. 

8. Know when to sacrifice pieces to gain an advantage.

You cannot protect every single piece on the board. If losing one of your pieces means that you will gain an advantage, do it – unless losing the piece will cause you to lose the game.

Senior couple playing checkers together

9. Concentrate on crowning more pieces than your opponent.

The main objective should be to crown as many of your pieces as possible, as you can do more with crowned pieces. 

10. Move pieces in close groups and in tandem.

Moving pieces in groups and in tandem mean that you can dominate a certain section of the board without putting your pieces at risk. The more your pieces are grouped together, the less chance there is of them being jumped.

11. “Redirect the enemy”.

To redirect your enemy, you need to split your pieces up into 6 on one side of the board (group A) and 6 on the other side (Group B). You need to move pieces from each group at different stages of the game.

At the start of the game, only play pieces from Group A and only play a piece from Group B if there is no good move available in your Group A. When trading pieces, avoid trading Group B pieces, rather trade Group A pieces. When the game reaches the stage where trading pieces is happening, your opponent will undoubtedly be watching your possible plays from Group A, which is when you can start a more aggressive advance from Group B.

12. Use forced moves to your advantage.

Forced moves are great tricks to use when you find that there is just one of your opponent’s pieces standing between your pieces and the back row. In this case, simply advance one of your other pieces to the opposite side of the opponent’s piece, presenting a possible jump. The rules insist that the opponent must take the jump, and while you will sacrifice your piece, you will gain a king. Now you have an advantage.

13. If you’re ahead, trade pieces.

man and woman playing checkers at wooden table

Trading pieces can sometimes put you on the back foot. If you are ahead and have more pieces on the board, determine if you can lose a piece in order to gain an advantage. Trade wisely.

14. Use blocking for a win.

If you created a block and the opponent has nowhere to move, they lose, and you win. 

15. Move pieces intentionally.

When you first start playing Checkers, you might have seen a possible move and just taken it because it was available. As you progress, you must learn to move each piece with a plan in mind. Don’t just move pieces for the sake of moving them; have a plan.

16. Consider the strength of your position before attacking.

Attacking without giving it any thought will be detrimental to your game. If you want to win, you need to consider what your position is like. You should only attack on your strong side and make sure that you defend only on the weaker side.

17. Make your first move a strategic one.

A great first move is to move your first piece on the furthest right-hand side of the board diagonally to the next position on the right. It cannot get jumped there and sets the scene of strategic play.

18. Build a pyramid.

Creating a pyramid shape with your pieces at the very beginning of the game can strengthen your front. How do you do this? You need 3 of your furthest right pieces in the very back row, 2 pieces ahead of them in the middle row, and one-piece ahead of those in the front row. Keep this form for as long as possible. 

19. Take your time on crowning.

Playing checkers, making a king

Some newbie Checkers players try to rush from their first move to crowing their pieces as quickly as possible. If you rush through the game to crown pieces, you could find yourself losing a lot of pieces along the way. You need to take the game slowly and be strategic – there’s no rush.

20. Download a Checkers app.

To really improve your skills, download a Checkers app on your mobile phone. Not only will it get you through times of boredom and stress, but it will also help you to brush up on your Checkers skills

“Get Out the Checkers Board – Let’s Play a Game”

And, for a bonus tip…every time you have a visitor or time with family and friends, you should be heard saying these very words: “get out the Checkers board – let’s play a game!”

JC Franco

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.