How to play American Checkers - rules & tips

American checkers is a classic board game that has been enjoyed by people of all ages for generations. In this article, we will provide a brief overview of how to play American checkers, including the setup of the board, the movement of the pieces, and the object of the game. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to learn the game, this article will provide you with everything you need to get started with American checkers.

How to play American Checkers - rules & tips

American Checkers, also known 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, win.

  • Checkers 8x8

1. Board & pieces

American Checkers is played on a 64-squares checkerboard (8x8). To correctly set up the pieces on a board, you must have a dark square in your bottom left corner. Remember! The game is played only on the dark squares.

Each of the 2 players starts with 12 regular pieces, sometimes called men, arranged in 3 rows (called ranks). This means that 2 ranks between players’ pieces remain empty at the beginning of a game.


Squares are identified by numbers 1-32. Black pieces are set on numbers 1 to 12, and white pieces on the numbers 21 to 32.

2. How to move pieces?

Men can only move forward to the adjacent dark and empty square diagonally. 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 that piece, you must jump over your opponent’s piece and remove it from the board. This is how capturing works.

Capture1  Capture2

A few more rules and tips about capturing:

  • in American 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
  • ‘’uncrowned’’ pieces can only capture forward


  • capturing backward by men is forbidden, even if you have more pieces to capture at once (look at the example below)


You cannot capture 3 pieces and finish on square 17. You may only capture 2 pieces and stop on square 26.

4. King

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

King  King2

A king in American checkers:

  • can move diagonally forward and backward one square

  • can capture forward and backward
  • has so-called short jumps - it can only capture the opponent's pieces on the next square


  • can capture more than one opponent’s piece in one move

5. Winning the game

You can win an American checkers game in 2 different ways:

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

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

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