Fun-Day Friday – The Classic Board Game (Checkers)

I’m sure everyone reading this has played Checkers at least once or twice.  It’s a classic game of strategy that doesn’t require as much mental stress as games like Chess.  We’re going to cover it today (and this will be a short post) because a Checker set is a very versatile way to pass the time on a rainy day.

The classic game arranges twelve pieces for each color (red vs. black) at opposite sides of the 8×8 board, all on the same color of square (red or black) so that pieces are diagonal.  Each player moves diagonally across the board with the option to jump (and remove) the opponents checkers if the space behind that checker is empty.  If you get to the opposite side, that checker gets “kinged” and can now move backward as well as forward around the board.

The next most commonly recognized game with this board is “give away.”  This is played exactly like the classic game, except that the object is to be the first player to lose all of the pieces.  Also, if a jump can be made, it MUST be made, so a player can set up the opponent to force them to take pieces.

A less common game is sometimes called “fox and hounds,” but the locals called it “fox and geese” when I was growing up, even though that’s technically a different kind of board layout, and played slightly differently.  One player places four of the same color checker on the row closest to himself (again, all the same color, and moves are diagonal.)  The other player places the other colored checker anywhere on the row closest to herself.  The four are the “geese” (or “hounds) and the one is the “fox.”  There is no jumping allowed, and pieces are not removed.  The object for the fox player is to get to the other side.  The object for the geese is to corner the fox until it can no longer move, thus preventing it from reaching the other side.  The fox moves like a king, any direction diagonally.  The geese move like normal checkers, one direction down the board diagonally.  This game is not balanced in the favor of the fox.  A perfect game can be played if you know the correct pattern for the geese in chasing the fox.  Since this is not a “fair” game, I prefer not to play this often unless I’m playing the fox, to let the other side learn how to develop the strategy (what patterns of movement make a perfect game?)  I won’t put the solution for the geese in this post, but if someone strongly wishes to see it, I don’t mind sharing privately.  You can leave a comment, and I’ll respond to the email address provided with the solution if asked.

Other names for this game include the word “Draughts.”  Board sizes and rules vary from country to country, but the general idea is mostly the same.  And there are other games that can be played using the standard 8×8 board.  You can even easily develop new games and challenges friends and family, such as “treat a piece like a knight from Chess and without hitting the same square twice, hit every square on the board.”  Or perhaps, “treat each piece as if it can move like a queen from Chess, and place as many on the board as you can without being captured by any other piece.”  It is possible to threaten every square on the board eventually, but it takes some thought.  Set aside a 3×3 section and play tic-tac-toe.  This last game is trivial to force a tie.  Or play “connect four” by placing your pieces along one side of the board, building out from there (as if they were dropped from the opposite side.)  Add your own house rules to the basic classic game.  Just learn to think outside the box and make things more challenging over time, and you can find enough different variations on this basic game to keep your mind busy while enjoying time with friends or family.

Sorry this was short and sweet, but this has been a rough week.  I will (again) try to get the recording done over the weekend for the SSH CA thing that I keep promising.  Hopefully I don’t get overwhelmed with honey-do tasks, and can get caught up.

Thanks for reading, and I hope I have inspired some of you to try new things with an old game.

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