Strategies for Draughts

Draughts, also known as checkers, is a strategy board game which has been around for thousands of years. There are many variants, but the most common version is played on an 8x8 chequered board. The two player game consists of twelve pieces (men, checkers, draughts)per side. The pieces start on the first three rows on the black/dark squares only. Men can only advance diagonally one square at a time. The aim is to remove the opponents pieces by ‘jumping’ over that piece and landing on a vacant adjacent space. Once all men have been captured, the game is won. The game can also be won through blocking the opponents ability to move. There are many useful tactics to improve your chances of success.

Crowning, or making a king, greatly improves the power and portability of your men. If you can get a piece to the other players base line, it can be ‘crowned’. Another piece is placed on top to distinguish it from a regular draught. The king can now be moved both forward and backwards, effectively doubling its range.

As capturing men requires an unoccupied square to jump into, it is wise to move you pieces en masse. Try not to leave individual pieces isolated. Move fewer pieces in tight formation.

Try to leave your base line men on station for as long as is possible. Any free squares are potential for an opposition crowning. They will be unable to make any kings if they cannot land there.

Draughts, like other board games, works on the general principle of trading pieces whenever one is ahead. The material advantage of having just one extra man becomes proportionately more significant the fewer pieces remain. The chances of crowning will increase greatly. One caveat to this general principle, is neglecting positional advantage for blind material gain. A king can change the course of the game very quickly.

Sacrificing a draught can appear reckless or careless. But this strategy can be used to draw out positional advantage. To clear a baseline piece in preparation for crowning for instance, would be a good use of the sacrificial tactic.

The rules for draughts state that if an opponent offers up a piece for capture, it must be taken. These ‘forced moves’ can be employed to great advantage. If the opposing draught is blocking your way to making a king, you can advance another piece to the other side of the offending blocker. This will force your opponent to capture allowing a clear path to the back line for crowning.

Blocking is used to frustrate an opposition move. It requires a good deal of forward thinking by the opposing player. Trying to second guess a plan or series of moves requires a sound knowledge of strategy. While blocking is defensive in its purpose(to prevent the other player from advancing)it can produce a winning position. If all opponent pieces are blocked and he is unable to move, in accordance with the game’s rules, he loses the game.

Here's a great video on draughts strategies: