It’s commonly accepted that checkers is a simplified version of chess. Indeed, you won’t see figures with a more complicated range of moves, and the level of concentration during the game can be much lower – any mistakes won’t be fatal. However, this does not change the fact that before starting to play you should familiarize yourself with a few basic issues.
Although checkers as we know it today was created in the 12th century on the Iberian Peninsula, its origins go back much further. According to historians the prototype of this popular board game was invented already 3000 years BC in ancient Egypt under the name of Senet. Over the years checkers has developed to such an extent that currently there are over 10 varieties, which differ from each other by the size of the board, the number of pieces, the rules of hitting or the way the lady moves. One of them is even officially recognized as a sport! This is international checkers, better known as Polish checkers. However, the name seems most appropriate, after all, it was our player Natalia Sadowska who recently became world champion twice (2016 and 2018).
Polka Natalia Sadowska została mistrzynią świata w warcabach stupolowych!
Pokonała w meczu w Rydze 16-krotną mistrzynię świata Zoję Gołubiewą (Łotwa).
— Marek Łada (@MarekLada_) December 22, 2018
The board for the game of Polish checkers consists of 100 fields, and each player is given a set of twenty black and white pawns at the beginning of the game. Another popular variation is called classic checkers, or Brazilian checkers. The game is played on a board with 64 pieces, and each player starts the game with twelve pieces on his side. The three most common varieties of checkers are complemented by Canadian Checkers, which has the largest game board with 144 checkers and the largest number of checkers – 30 per player.
In each of the three varieties mentioned above the rules are identical. At the beginning we place our checkers on the dark fields of the board, and the game is in any case started by the white checkers. We move diagonally, with only one field forward. The beating takes place by jumping over the opponent’s pawn to an empty field behind it. It’s worth remembering that it is absolutely obligatory, so resigning is out of the question. If we manage to get to the last row of the board, the pawn which has made it, turns into a “damka”. It can move any number of spaces diagonally – both forward and backward. The aim is, of course, to deprive the opponent of all his pieces. The game ends in a draw, when none of the checkers can make a kill.
Although the rules seem to be child’s play, winning can be quite a challenge. Therefore, if we want to avoid ending a game as losers, we should remember about a few important tips. First of all you should make every effort to place your checkers as close to each other as possible. If we don’t leave any empty spaces behind them, we’ll make it impossible for our opponent to knock them off, and we’ll deprive him of the chance to move freely on the board and thus be able to consistently move forward. Achieving a numerical advantage and creating a damsel is the key to success. The rule of staying in the center is also important. Pawns lined up on the board have only one space to maneuver, so it’s a good idea to plant them in the center of the board rather than the sides.
As in the case of chess, the most fun during a game of checkers are various combinations, which – to the delight of beginners – are available online at your fingertips. This includes, for example, the Napoleonic combination shown in the video below. It consists in initially sacrificing a few pawns, and then depriving the opponent of a sizeable amount of “arsenal” and creating a damsel at the same time.
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