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History of Checkers
Checkers has quite a long history with international appeal. A board that was similar to a Checkers board was found during an archeological dig in the Middle East. Surprisingly, the board carbon dated back to 3000 B.C.. Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine whether the rules were similar to modern day checkers, even though the numbers of pieces were different than today’s game.
Next in Checkers history, we jump forward in time to 1400 B.C. At that time, Alquerque or Quirkat was being played throughout Egypt. Depictions of the game were even carved into the walls of sacred temples. The size of the board was different (it was 5x5), and the pieces moved along intersections of lines instead of diagonally from square to square; but, the game was otherwise thought to be similar to modern day Checkers. The pieces of Alquerque were flat and circular and were even separated into light and dark colors. In addition, the goal was similar: capture the pieces of the other player. Alquerque was even discussed by the greatest minds of the time, Plato and Homer.
Moving forward on the timeline, we come to the 12th century A.D. and the birth of modern day Checkers. It is thought that a Frenchman converted the rules and game pieces of ancient Alquerque to an 8x8 chessboard and played with a dozen pieces on each side. And…Checkers was born. The French named this game, Fierges, and called the pieces, ferses.
By the 15th century A.D., the name of the game had changed but the rules remained pretty much the same. Those playing at that time called it Jeu de Dames, or Dames. When the French decided that the player must jump the opponent’s pieces, if possible, they changed the name again. This time to Jeu Force.
Jeu Force then traveled across the Channel to England. There it received yet another name, Draughts. In the 18th century, the board was changed again to a 10x10 structure with twenty pieces on each side and was called Plaisant. This structure probably arose from players in Holland. Only when the game crossed the Atlantic to North America did it gain the name we all know...Checkers.
In 1847 people began competing in Checkers tournaments and a world championship was actually awarded. Tournament play has evolved with a sets of strict rules designed to challenge and encourage strategic play.
Finally, before World War II, a basic computer game was developed so that Checkers could be played on those early computers. In those early days, the computer program completed a set of calculations for the game.
Even though Checkers has moved from country to country and has changed names again and again, the rules have remained virtually the same. Local rules may vary from county to county and the board and pieces may even change slightly; however, the basics remain the same. A game that has been around for thousands of years is one that has tested time and will be around for thousands more. It is one game that is certain to challenge you time and time again.
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