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Variations of the Game of Draughts

Draughts is a much-loved classic game which is played by two players using 12 ‘pieces’ to move across a checkerboard. Each player attempts to capture their opponent’spieces by leaping over them. It may seem quite simple but in truth a great deal of strategy is involved.

The game is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt around 3000 BC and its popularity has spread worldwide. With such a long and far reaching history, it’s not surprising than many different versions of draughts exist. This article highlights some of the major variants of the game which are played on the European continent.

Draughts is undoubtedly one of the most popular games in Europe but unlike its counterpart, chess, the rules of the game have not been internationally standardised. This has led to dozens of regional variations of the game across the continent.The most popular version played in Europe and Russia is called Polish checkers. It’sfunny to note that the game is called ‘Polish checkers in all countries except Poland, where it goes by the name of French checkers. This is because it is the standard Frenchform of the game.

The game, also commonly known as continental checkers, is played on a 10x10 checkerboard. The board compromises of 100 squares and 20 pieces per player. Each player’s pieces are represented by different colours. Usually dark and light-coloured pieces are used. While similar to traditional draughts,in that pieces capture opponent’s pieces by leaping, Polish checker pieces can move forwards and backwards. Most non -English speaking countries refer to the pieces as ‘ladies ‘instead of ‘men’ that is why pieces get promoted to queens instead kings.

A piece can only become a queen if it successfully reaches the last row of the opponents end of the board. However, unlike the traditional game a possible queen can only reach the end if there are no capture moves to be made. Every possible move which results in the capture of the opponent’s piece must be taken instead of being promoted to a queen. The piece in question can only become a queen once it reaches the last row again. A queen can move diagonally across the board in as many spaces as needed and even change its path diagonally at any time during a move. It can capture pieces which are not adjacent to it.

The Russian variant of the game is quite similar toPolish Checkers. It consists of an 8x8 board with 12 pieces per player. The pieces move in a similar fashion to their European counterparts.  Pieces that have reached the end of the opponent’s row are allowed to make capture moves and become a king during the same move. This version is quite popular in Russia, Post-Soviet and Eastern European states as well as Israel.

Whichever version you decide to use, one cannot deny that draughts is a great way to spend family fun-time while improving your mental agility and memory recall.

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