Draughts is a very famous game, but there is a bit of confusion around its name. In America, it’s called Checkers or sometimes English Draughts. So while the game is quite famous, it might surprise you to learn that many people don’t know how to play it. But our game guide can help.
What is Draughts?
Like many games, the history of Draughts is a bit of a mystery. While it is compared to Chess, aside from being played on the same board, the two games are very different. It’s often believed that Draughts is older than Chess as well.
Similar boards and pieces have been found in numerous countries worldwide. While Senet was arguably the most well-known board game in Ancient Egypt, similar games to Draughts were also discovered.
Draughts is played on an 8 x 8 board, with each player having 12 pieces. Each piece can only move forwards diagonally. Although if a piece gets to the end of the board, it will be crowned and become a King, which means it can move forward and backward.
The goal of Draughts is to capture your opponent’s pieces. You do this by jumping over them, which removes the piece from the board. The game will end if one player loses all their pieces or can’t make any more legal moves.
Compared to Chess and other older games like Shogi, Draughts is a considerably simpler game. However, there are trick moves that players can make that will allow them to capture multiple pieces!
We’ll talk more about how Draughts is played in the rule section below. But before that, let’s take a quick look at what you’ll need to play this classic board game.
What You’ll Need to Play?
To play Draughts, you’ll need a game set. Draughts is a classic board game and is available from numerous different retailers. Game sets can be made from plastic, cardboard, wood, or even glass.
You can find many great games sets online. This Marble Draughts set will make a great choice if you want something more luxurious. But of course, you can find more budget-friendly options available.
For example, this smaller travel Draughts set would make a great choice. Now one thing you might have noticed is that Draught sets come in many different colors.
While standard sets are black and white, they come in many colors, including blue, red, brown, etc. But the colors are simply a cosmetic difference; they don’t impact the game. So, once you’ve got your game set, you can get ready to play, but first, check out our game guide below.
Rules and Gameplay
The Aim of The Game
Draughts is strictly a two-player game, and to win; you’ll need to capture all your opponent’s pieces or prevent them from being able to move around the board. However, unlike Chess, Draughts can’t usually end in a stalemate.
To start a game, simply have each player choose a color and decide which end of the board you’ll be on. Each player will have 12 pieces (these are sometimes referred to as soldiers or men); they should lay them out in the board’s darker squares.
Once done, each player should have three rows of pieces in front of them, with there being four pieces to each row. The rows at the end of the board (the ones closest to each player) are called the King’s Row.
When everything is set up, decide which player will go first. Usually, the player with the darker pieces will go first, but you can flip a coin to determine play order instead. Now, let’s look at how the game works.
During your turn, you can move one piece on the board. Regular pieces can only move forward in a diagonal motion. You aim to capture your opponent’s pieces; this is done by jumping over them.
If an opponent’s piece is diagonally adjacent to yours, you can capture it. However, you can only do this if there is a space your piece can jump to beyond the piece you want to capture. Capturing a piece is known as a jump, and if you’re lucky, you can jump multiple pieces in one turn!
A multi-jump is possible if your piece (that initially jumped) as another jump possible when it lands. This allows you to chain jumps together and capture more pieces. If you can jump in Draughts, you must do it.
This means you have to think carefully about where you move pieces too. Sometimes jumping and capturing one piece could leave you open to a more powerful attack from your opponent. So while you’ll see plenty of regular pieces jumping, your aim should be to make Kings.
If you manage to move one of your pieces to your opponent’s King Row, you can transform it into a King. This is generally done by placing a previously captured counter (of the same color) on top of it.
A King piece can move and jump both forward and backward. This makes them much more powerful pieces, and winning Draughts will usually mean getting as many Kings as you can as quickly as possible.
The End Game
A game of Draughts will end if one player captures all of their opponent’s pieces or leaves their opponent with no room to make any moves. While it’s rare, if both players are stuck and can’t force a win, the player with the most pieces will win. However, some people prefer to end the game at a draw if this happens.
Draughts – A Timeless Board Game
Draughts is an iconic game that is often overshadowed by Chess. The two games are often compared, and while there are some surface similarities, the two games are very different. While Draughts might seem more straightforward, it is still a profoundly strategic game and is sure to be a fun time.