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Rules of Checkers: How do you Play Checkers?

One of the most popular board games, checkers is an easy, fun game with countless variations. Halatafl, for example, is a Norse game dating back at least to the 14th century. Tournament rules are also quite different. Here are the standard rules of checkers:

The Pieces

The game consists of an eight by eight square board in alternating colours, as well as 24 checker “men”. 12 of these men are a light colour, and 12 are dark. The most common colours are black and red.


Place the board on the table. If it folds, simply use the crease as a dividing line between you. Either way, the left corner in front of you should be a dark square. Place your men on the dark squares of the first three rows in front of you. This leaves the middle rows of the board empty.


The player with the darkest checker men goes first. Pieces slide diagonally along the dark squares, one square at a time, always moving forward. If the square is occupied by your opponent’s piece, but the square beyond is free, you may “jump over” his piece and remove it from the board. You may continue jumping with your piece until there are no more jumps for that piece.

When one of your checkers reaches the furthest row, your opponent places a captured checker on top and he becomes a “king”. Kings may move both forward and backward along the board.


When one player loses the last of his men, his opponent wins. 


There are many variations to the rules of checkers which make the game more fun or challenging. Here are a few of them:

  • Forced Jump – If you are able to jump at the beginning of a turn, then you must. When more than one jump is possible, you may choose which jump to make. If you fail to jump, then your piece is removed from the board.
  • Flying Kings – In this popular variation, the king is able to move diagonally in one direction as many open spaces as you wish, capturing all pieces which may normally be jumped. A flying king may not change directions during a turn unless the landing square completes a jump and leads to a normal jump.
  • Backwards Capture – Pieces may move backwards during a jump, even if not a king. However, they must still move forward otherwise.
  • Fox and Geese – Place four light checkers (“geese”) in the back row, and one dark “fox” on any dark space in the back row on the other side. The rules of checkers still apply: The geese move like normal men, and the fox moves like a king. However, there is no jumping. The game ends when the fox is either trapped by the geese or reaches the opponent’s back row.

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