Is Checkers Really A Sport?

Break the boredom by playing a game of Checkers, also known as Draughts in Great Britain. Designed to be played by two players on a board, this game requires the execution of strategies in order to win your opponent. To an untrained eye, it looks like the players just use a piece to jump over other pieces. This cannot be further than the truth since Checkers is played under a set of rules like other sports.



The History of Checkers

The rules came into force around the 1100s when a Frenchman expanded it to 12 pieces on each side. Before then, Checkers was played on a slightly different board in the Sumerian City of Ur now in Iraq. This was said to be around 3000 BC based on the archeological dig discovered in that region.


No one knows the exact rules of Checkers back then, but the number of pieces was different. However, it became quite popular in Egypt as Alquerque during 1400 BC and was played on a board of 5 X 5.


The way Checkers was played changed following the expansion of its board to 8 X 8 containing 64 squares. Rules, like jumping over an opponent’s piece(s), were introduced to make the game more fun to play.


Besides the popular Checkers which we know, there is also the continental version which is played in Europe. Instead of an 8 x 8 board, this version is played on a 10 X 10 board.


Basic Things Every Checkers’ Player Should Know

Even if you do not get to play as the greatest Checkers player who ever lived, Marion Franklin Tinsley, it is important to know the following rules of playing this game which is governed by the World Draughts Federation.


  1. Only the dark squares on an 8 X 8 board are used.
  2. The player with the black, flat and round pieces plays the first move and not the player with white pieces.
  3. When a King is made, a piece is placed on another. However, if none is available, the piece is overturned.
  4. The 12 pieces of each player are placed on the three rows closest to them.
  5. The row closest to each player is known as the “dark row.”
  6. The pieces can only move forward in a diagonal manner.
  7. Should an opponent’s piece be in front of your piece with a space behind that piece, your piece must jump it and capture the piece.
  8. A king is made when a piece reaches the King Row of an opponent.
  9. The game ends when any of these happens:
  • A player loses all of his or her pieces
  • A player is in a position where his or her piece cannot move
  • The player with the most kings wins when each player has an equal number of pieces.
  • Should everything be equal, the game is said to be a draw


Exceptions To The Rules of Checkers

The way Checkers, also known as English Draughts, is played differs in some ways to the Russian Draughts and Continental Draughts in the following ways:


  1. Russian Draughts can capture an opponent’s pieces both in a forward and backward movement.
  2. Continental Draughts have what is called “Flying Kings” because of their ability to move forward or backward across any distance and also be able to capture an opponent’s pieces(s) in the process.


Considering the rules of Checkers and how it is played, lots of people ask: “Is Checkers really a Sport?”. While it may not require its players to have the ability of athletes, the fact that it involves the use of mental skills was enough for the International Olympic Committee to include it as a sport.