Russian Checkers

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Russian checkers1 is a game for two people, played on the darks squares of an eight by eight board where each square alternates in colour from light to dark. The object of the game is to prevent your opposition from moving on his or her move; this is accomplished by either blocking your opposition’s pieces or by taking all of them out, however, if neither can be done, then the game is a draw. The board must be positioned so that the bottom left hand corner facing each player is a dark square. Russian checkers has a fun twist compared to draughts and is sure to catch everybody out.

The Rules

Both players start off with twelve pieces each; the pieces have to be aligned on the dark squares of the first three rows. There are two types of pieces in the game and they are the men and the kings. Each piece at the beginning of the game is a man but it is usually called a single checker. A piece can take out an opponent's piece by jumping over it only if there is a space behind. Men and kings have to take out the opposing piece.

The Men

A single checker moves forward, diagonally, one square at a time. However, unlike normal draughts, a single checker can take out an opponent's piece by going backwards2 as well as forwards so you better watch out. When a single checker takes out an opposing piece, it must land on the first square behind; a piece can continue jumping only if there is another opposing piece that can be taken out once you have landed. Note that a player cannot take out one of their own pieces. When a single checker reaches the far side of the board it turns into a king and if it can continue jumping3 then it must carry on.

The Kings

A king moves forwards and backwards diagonally; it can move any number of steps as long as they are in a straight line. A king takes out an opposing piece just like a single checker but instead you can choose how many steps you want to take beyond that piece. If it is possible to continue jumping then it must land on the square to allow it to do so. Both men and kings can’t jump over the same opposing piece more than once.

When there comes a time where one player has one king, the other has three kings and no other checkers remain, then a count begins and if the player with three kings doesn’t take out the opponent after fifteen moves then it is counted as a draw.

The Strategy

There aren’t any particular strategies in Russian checkers like there would be in chess, however, there are a few tips that could help. It is a good tip to plan the next three moves. An example would be, sacrifice one piece by getting the opponent to take it out, and then you can take out two of their pieces because you have just manipulated them into doing so.

1 It is also known as Shashki.2 Going down the board.3 Taking out a piece.

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