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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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