English draughts (British English) or checkers (American English and Canadian English), also called American checkers or Straight checkers, is a form of the strategy board game draughts. The aim of the game is to use your pieces to capture all of your opponent’s pieces or to stop them from making a legal move by following a set of simple rules. The games is played on a 8×8 chequered board and each side has twelve pieces to play with.
To start with, the pieces can only move and capture diagonally forward, However, when a piece reaches the opposite side of the board they are crowned and these pieces can then move and capture both diagonally backward as well as forward,
The opponents take turn to try and capture each others pieces. If a piece is captured during a turn then another move is granted. If no piece is captured during a turn, then it becomes the turn of the other player. In competition games, often the amount of moves per turn is limited to three. This allows for a more strategic game.
More Detailed Rules
There are two different ways to make a move in English draughts:
- A simple move consists of sliding a piece one square diagonally to an adjacent unoccupied dark square. Uncrowned pieces may move only diagonally forward; kings may move in any diagonal direction.
- A jump is a move from a square diagonally adjacent to an opponent’s piece to an empty square immediately beyond it, in the same direction. (Thus jumping over the square containing the opponent’s piece.) Uncrowned pieces may jump only diagonally forward; kings may jump in any diagonal direction. A jumped piece is considered “captured” and removed from the game. Any piece, whether crowned or not, may jump a king.
Multiple jumps are possible, if after one jump, another piece is immediately eligible to be jumped—even if that jump is in a different diagonal direction. If more than one multiple-jump move is available, the player may choose which piece to jump with, and which sequence of jumps to make. The jumping sequence chosen is not required to be the one that maximizes the number of jumps in the turn; however, a player must make all available jumps in the sequence chosen.
Jumping is always mandatory: if a player has the option to jump, he must take it, even if doing so results in disadvantage for the jumping player. (For example, a mandated single jump might set up the player such that the opponent has a multi-jump in reply.)
If a player’s piece moves into the kings row on the opponent’s side of the board, that piece is said to be crowned (or often kinged in the U.S.), becoming a king and gaining the ability to move both forward and backward. If a player’s uncrowned piece jumps into the kings row, the current move terminates; the piece cannot continue on by jumping back out (as in a multiple jump), until the next move. A piece is normally crowned by placing a second piece on top of it; some sets have pieces with a crown molded, engraved or painted on one side, allowing the player to simply turn the piece over or to place the crown-side up on the crowned piece, further differentiating kings from ordinary men.
End of game
A player wins by capturing all of the opponent’s pieces or by leaving the opponent with no legal move. The game ends in a draw if neither side can force a win, or by agreement (one side offering a draw, the other accepting).
In tournament English draughts, a variation called three-move restriction is preferred. The first three moves are drawn at random from a set of accepted openings. Two games are played with the chosen opening, each player having a turn at either side. This tends to reduce the number of draws and can make for more exciting matches. Three-move restriction has been played in the United States championship since 1934. A two-move restriction was used from 1900 until 1934 in the United States and in the British Isles until the 1950s. Before 1900, championships were played without restriction: this style is called go-as-you-please (GAYP).
One rule of long standing that has fallen out of favour is the huffing rule. In this variation jumping is not mandatory, but if a player does not take their jump (either deliberately or by failing to see it), the piece that could have made the jump is blown or huffed, i.e. removed from the board. After huffing the offending piece, the opponent then takes their turn as normal.
Two common rule variants, not recognised by player associations, are:
- That capturing with a king precedes capturing with a regular piece. (In such a case, any available capture can be made at the player’s choice.)
- A piece which in the current move has become a king can then in the same move go on to capture other pieces.
Source of more detailed rules: Wikipedia
If you wish to develop your playing, then the book ‘Basic Checkers: The First Twenty Moves’ by Richard L. Fortman is considered standard reference for the serious player.