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Draughts Rules

Draughts, also known as checkers, is at first sight not dissimilar to chess in terms of its setup and objectives. The board itself is identifiable with a chessboard. With simpler rules and less constrained tactics, a smoother, more open game may be played.

Draughts Setup

A board of 64 squares, arranged eight by eight and with chequered (hence the American name) squares used. We may label these darker and lighter squares to avoid confusion with the pieces: this is essentially a chessboard. On the nearest twelve dark squares from each of the two opposite ends, twelve checkers are placed: white at one end, black at the other.

There hence exists a complete symmetry between the two players, and the opening player may be decided by a coin toss.

The objective of the game is to remove:

  • all of the opponent's pieces from the board, or;
  • sufficiently many of the opponent's pieces such that the remaining pieces cannot legally move.


Any piece that advances to the furthest row whence it started has a piece of the same colour stacked onto it, forming a double piece king. Each player moves a piece in turn:

  • one square forward diagonally to a vacant square;
  • numerous squares forward to capture opponent pieces:
    • a piece may move two squares diagonally forward to a vacant square, traversing a square occupied by an opponent piece, and capturing it;
    • if it is possible to capture any further pieces with the same piece, it must be done again in the same turn;
    • a move to capture a piece must be executed if possible;
  • diagonally forward or backward if a king, which may move:
    • one square generally;
    • two squares to capture an opponent piece according to the same rules as a single piece.

The game concludes when:

  • a player may make no legal move, either because:
    • all their pieces have been removed, or;
    • their remaining pieces may make no legal move, or;
  • the players agree to a draw.


The checkers game format may be adapted to streamline the game flow and disincentivise errors. For example, one additional rule allows that, whenever no opportunity to capture a piece is taken in a move that would allow it, the moved piece is removed by the opponent before their move.

To reduce the probability of a draw in competition settings, it is common to use a ballot system. A card is drawn randomly from a selection, each with an opening three-move sequence started by black. White begins the voluntary game with the fourth move. As an asymmetry is created by this variant, the situation is reversed in a second game, often as part of a sequence of games.

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