How Checkers Works

Entertainment | Brain Games

Checkers Rules

In nearly all modern iterations of checkers, the rules for starting a game are the same: The darker color moves first. Figuring out which player gets which pieces is a different story. There is no set rule here, so you'll have to flip a coin or take turns going first.

Once you've decided who moves first, it's time to figure out how to move. There are two types of moves, but at the beginning of a game, you'll have only one option: to move one space diagonally forward. This is called a non-capturing move. If you aren't able to capture any pieces, you can move any of your pieces one square forward. Each player is allowed to move one piece per move.

The other type of move is called a capturing move. These are diagonal "hops" that take place when your piece is diagonal from your opponent's piece. Since the object of the game is to capture all your opponent's pieces, this is a vital step. You can jump over your opponent's pieces only if a blank square is open diagonally on the other side of it. You can jump as many of your opponent's pieces in one turn as the board allows. Once you've jumped a piece, that piece is removed from the board.

If you're in position to make one of these capturing moves, you have to make it; however, if you have multiple capturing moves available to you, you may choose which one you'd like to pursue.

Eventually, at least one of your pieces should make it to the other side of the board. This means it will be crowned a king by having one of your previously captured pieces placed on top of it. Now you can move this piece diagonally forward or backward to capture pieces or block your opponent.

As we mentioned earlier, the directions, objects and rules are fairly straightforward, but like the best games, checkers has a deep strategy that has kept people playing for centuries. We'll look at some of these strategies in the next section.