How to play American Checkers - rules & tips

American Checkers, known also as English Draughts or Straight Checkers, is a board game for 2 players. Find out the rules and the most important hints for beginners: how to set up a board, start a game, move pieces and of course how to win.
  • Checkers 8x8

1. Board & pieces

American Checkers is played on 64-squares checkerboard (8x8). To set up a board correctly it is very important you have a dark square in your left bottom corner. Remember that the game is played only on the dark squares.

Each of 2 players starts with 12 regular pieces, called sometimes men, set in 3 rows. It means that 2 ranks between players’ pieces are left empty at the beginning of a game.

2. How to move pieces?

Men can only move diagonally forwards to the adjacent dark and empty square. You should know that in American Checkers the dark piece starts a game and after that players make moves alternately.

3. Capturing

If you have a piece opposite to your adversary and there is an empty square behind your opponent’s piece you must jump over the opponent piece and remove it from the board. This is how capturing works.

A few more rules and tips about capturing:

  • in straight checkers capturing is mandatory
  • if you have a few capturing possibilities, you can choose any of them
  • you can capture more than one opponent’s piece in one move
  • ordinary pieces (uncrowned) can only capture forwards

4. King

Once your ordinary piece reaches the last (farthest) rank of the board it becomes a king. And the king is more powerful than an uncrowned piece.

A king in American checkers:

  • can move diagonally forwards and backwards by one square
  • can capture forwards and backwards
  • has so called short jumps - it can only capture opponent's pieces on the next square
  • can capture more than one opponent’s piece in one move

There is also one special rule, what happens when a piece becomes a king and has an opportunity to jump over an opponent's piece. Check it out in our video lesson.

5. Winning the game

Your can win American checkers game in 2 different ways:

  • by capturing all opponent’s pieces or
  • by freezing out all opponent’s pieces.

In other words you win when your opponent cannot make any move.

Hey! You may also enjoy our Checkers app

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Checkers app
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