The history of checkers/draughts

This site is devoted to the history of the old board game checkers or draughts. In the course of time many varieties were invented. They have two features in common: the leap capture and the promotion. As an illustration combinations in three divergent varieties. White to play and win.


Diagram 1 is a combination in the so-called Anglo-French variety, a diagonal game. The author is William Strickland (England, 19th c.). Solution: 1.12-8 (3x12) 2.14-9 (5x14) 3.13-9 (6x13; backward captures are forbidden) 4.15x6 (2x9) 5.17x3 (26x17; the king or doubleton is short) 6.21x5+. Diagram 2 shows a combination in the so-called Turkish variety, an orthogonal game. Solution: 1. 36-28 (20x36, obliged, for the sideward capture 27x29 looses by White's capture 37x21x5) 2. 41-33 (25x41) 3.40-32 (24x40) 4. 50-49; a sideward move (41x57; king or doubleton for Black) 5. 45-44 (36x52) 6. 37-29; White cannot take in diagonal direction (30x28; a second lateral capture) 7. 42-41 (26x44; Black has a choice between 57x33/25, a capture with the long king, and 26x44, but is obliged to take the most) 8. 35-36 (57x37, a capture with a long doubleton) 9. 38x4; doubleton for White (40x38) 10. 46x10; no backward captures or moves (9x11) 11. 47-29 (31x47) 12. 54-53 (52x54) 13. 4x28; capture of seven pieces with the long doubleton: 4x44x46x31x15x9x25x28+. See for a spectacular combination in a game anywhere in the Middle East a clip on Youtube:

On diagram 3 a combination made by the Dutch composer Eric van Dusseldorp (1987). In the past the variety was called Polish, today we call it International draughts. The game is diagonal. White wins as follows: 1.38-32 (36x49; Black has a choice between 36x38x49, 27x38x47 and 27x38x49, but is obliged to take the most: 36x49; doubleton) 2.29-23 (27x20; Black has a choice between five captures, but has to take three pieces; captures in backward direction are allowed) 3.25x1; again a complicated situation with many choices; White could also capture 23x1 or 23x23, but prefers the capture with the piece on 25 (49x24; the Black doubleton has to take two pieces) 4. 23x14; a choice between three captures of one piece (10x19) 5. 1x23x10; a sacrifice of the White doubleton (5x14) 6.16x29; again a capute in backward direction +.

Considering the various types, draughts must be an old game. But what is its age, and where was it devised? And how can we explain the divergent varieties? Press on the button The origin of draughts for the state of our inquiries.