Chess vs. Checkers (Draughts): 7 Similarities & 7 Differences

Chess and checkers on the same board

Checkers and Chess; they seem somewhat similar, but are they really? I am an avid Checkers player and thoroughly enjoy wiling away a few hours over a game. In fact, there is no occasion that is not perfect for a good game or 2 of Checkers. However, I am not too well acquainted with Chess. When recently asked if Chess and Checkers are similar or different, I really did not know what to say. And that is what got my investigations started. 

Checkers & Chess: These are similarities and differences to consider when comparing these two games. 

1.Type of thinking requiredRules of the games
2.Boards usedThe physical pieces
3. Strategy and planningLearning the games
4.Number of playersTypes of captures allowed
5.Status as boardgamesDirectional movement of the pieces
6.Patience requiredThe overall objective of the games
7.Skills and experience requiredTheir histories

If you are (were) of the thinking that Checkers and Chess were worlds apart, think again. Yes, there is no denying the simple fact that Chess is more complex, but that does not mean that there are no real similarities to consider. Also, if you are trying to decide which game is better suited to you (or your kids), you might want to acquaint yourself with the various aspects of the games. These aspects happen to make the games the same, but also different.

To learn more about the similarities and differences between Checkers and Chess, read on. 

Chess and checkers Board

Differences between Checkers and Chess

1. Rules of the game

Many young children start off learning how to play Checkers in preparation for Chess, so you might think that the rules are similar. Wrong! Checkers and Chess have very different rules. The action of play is somewhat similar, but you cannot apply Checkers rules to Chess and vice versa. Learning the rules of Chess may take a fair amount of time in comparison to learning the rules of Checkers.

2. Game pieces

Players in Checkers use round discs commonly called pieces – there are 12 of them per player. In Chess, players use 16 pieces made up of several different pieces as follows: king, queen, rook, bishop, knight, and pawn. Chess pieces are set up in each consecutive block on the first two rows directly in front of the player – taking up both the dark and light squares. In Checkers, the pieces are only set up on the dark squares and take up 3 rows per player.

3. Learning the game

When you first play a game of Checkers, you might think that playing the game is complicated or confusing, but it is really not. Once you understand the game of Checkers, it becomes easier to play. Chess is, undoubtedly, a more complex game that is not as easy to play as Checkers. Learning to play Chess, arguably, takes longer than learning to play Checkers. 

4. Captures allowed

The captures allowed in Chess and Checkers are quite different. In a game of Checkers, usually, players can only make one type of capture, whereas, in Chess, there’re multiple types of captures allowed. This is mainly due to the different rules that are assigned to each of the types of pieces in Chess. In Checkers, all pieces have the same rules applied, except for pieces crowned king. 

knight capturing rook, chess game

5. Directional movement of pieces

When playing a game of Checkers, pieces can only move forward in a diagonal direction towards the opponent’s side of the board. When a piece is crowned king, it can move diagonally only but can go backward and forward too. 

Chess has a similar concept in that the pieces work their way towards the opponent’s side of the board, but that is where the similarities end. In Chess, each piece type has a different type of movement allowed. These are as follows:

  • Pawn: The pawn can move directly forward 2 squares on the first move, and thereafter only one direct forward move at a time. When capturing an opponent’s piece, the pawn can move diagonally forward too.
  • Rook: The rook is an interesting piece because it can move 1 to 7 squares at a time in only one direction. It can do this as long as another piece does not obstruct it. Movements can be left, right, forward, or backward.
  • Knight: The knight must move in an “L” shape and can skip over other pieces if they are in its way. This piece can move left, right, forward, or backward two spaces and then move one more square in either direction (perpendicular).
  • Bishop: The bishop can move in any direction diagonally as long as it is not obstructed by another piece. 
  • Queen: The queen can move in any straight or diagonal direction and can capture any piece on the board, but cannot jump over any pieces to get to its destination. 
  • King: this piece can move only one square at a time, in any direction. The king is considered the most valuable piece on the board.

6. Overall game objective

The overall objective of Checkers and Chess is quite different, although many people consider it the same. The objective of Checkers is to reach the opponent’s side of the board and capture all his/her pieces. Once a Checkers piece reaches the opponent’s backline, it can be crowned king, but this is not the end of the game. The end of the game is only when all the opponent’s pieces have been captured or when there’s no legal move left for a player to play. 

The objective (or goal) of Chess is to checkmate the opponent’s king. If a checkmate is not possible, the next objective is a stalemate where there is no legal move left for a player to play.

7. History

Ancient stone chessboard with marble cells

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Chess origins go back to the 6th century A.D. in India. It is believed that it was based on the Indian strategy game “Chaturanga”. On the other hand, the origins of checkers are thought to be much older. The earliest form of checkers goes back to 3000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, now known as Iraq. Around the 12th century A.D., the game of checkers was adapted to be played on a chessboard. 

Similarities of Checkers and Chess

1. Type of thinking required

To play a game of Checkers, players must be able to think logically and strategically. Generally, Checkers players are good problem solvers and have excellent critical thinking skills. Much the same, Chess requires players to be good critical thinkers. Generally, players of Chess are analytical, logical, patient, and have good abstract reasoning. 

2. The board

Chess and Checkers are played on a very similar board. While the colors of a Checkers board may be different from that of a Chessboard, both games are played on a 64-squared board that is arranged on an 8×8 grid. 

3. Strategy and planning

Both Chess and Checkers are games that require quite a lot of strategic thinking and planning. In order to win at either game, each opponent needs to be thinking ahead, looking for opportunities and ways to outsmart the other player. 

4. Number of players

Usually, both Chess and Checkers are played by 2 players sitting on opposite ends of the board. 

two old men playing chess in the park
Andrew Babble /

5. Their status as boardgames

It is difficult to deny that both Checkers and Chess are quite popular games. Arguably, among the most popular board games of all time. Both games’ histories go way back, yet, both games are still widely played. Millions of people around the world play Checkers and Chess.

6. Patience requirements

When playing Checkers, there is a lot of patience required. This is the very reason why children are not taught to play Checkers (or Chess, for that matter) until they have reached a stage where they can practice a bit of patience. Chess games, just like Checkers games, can take hours, and players typically need to have the staying power. 

7. Skill and experience required

There is undoubtedly a good amount of skill required to play both Checkers and Chess. How someone plays once learning the rules directly relates to their logical and critical thinking skills. In order to win consistently, players must keep playing to improve on their skills. That is why someone cannot just learn the basic rules and expect to win at a game of Chess or Checkers against a pro. They just will not have the skill or experience to do so.

Chess & Checkers: Both Worthy Games

Chess and checkers on the same board 2

You might have encountered a number of avid Chess players online who take offense to Checkers and Chess being called similar. The fact of the matter is that the 2 games are somewhat similar, but that does not take away from the value or worth of either game. If you are looking for worthy brain and strategy games to play, both Chess and Checkers are worth your time.