The Evolution of Draughts

An archeological dig in Iraq unearthed the earliest known form of the game of Draughts. Carbon dating was used to determine the age of the ancient game, and it appears to date back to around 3000 B.C. The board and the number of pieces it used were different from the Draughts board and pieces used today.

Around 1400 B.C., the ancient Egyptians used a 5 x 5 board to play a game called Aquerque. The game was very popular during this time and it was played throughout western civilization for thousands of years.

Around 1100 A.D., the game of Aquerque changed when a Frenchman played it on a chess board using 12 pieces for each player. The name of the game also changed. It became known as “Fierges.”

The next evolution of Draughts happened when the rules changed again, making it mandatory to jump Draughts to progress across the board. This newer version was more challenging than the old. The old version was considered slower and less challenging, and it became a social game played by the women of the era and was called “La Jeu Pleasant De Dames,” (the pleasant ladies' game). The new, more aggressive form of the game became known as “Jeu Force” (Play Force).

Draughts eventually was exported from France to England, Spain, and America. In Spain around the mid-1500's, books began to be written about Draughts. In 1756, William Payne, a mathematician in England, wrote his own book about Draughts.

In 1847, the first Draughts world championship took place. As time passed, it became obvious that the game presented openings that gave the advantage to one side over the other. Two move restrictions were created in which the game was started in a random style. These two move restrictions were used mostly by expert players. In modern-day Draughts tournaments, three move restrictions are used.

As technology advanced, it was not long before computer programmers began developing very basic Draught games that could be played on computers. Alan Turing created a rudimentary Draughts game on paper because the computers of the time were not developed enough to run his Draughts program. In 1952, Arthur L. Samuel created the first Draughts program that could actually be played on a computer. From that point forward, computer Draughts games have improved in speed and function.

Present day Draughts programs require less strategic planning and more computer data search capability. The Draughts programs employ database searches that show all possible combinations when several pieces are left on the board.