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checkers,game for two players, known in England as draughts. It is played on a square board, divided into 64 alternately colored—usually red and black or white and black—square spaces, identical with a chessboard. Each player is provided with 12 pieces (in the form of disks) of his own color, and all play is conducted on the black squares. Players sit on opposite sides of the board and alternately move their pieces diagonally in a forward direction. Upon reaching the last rank of the board, pieces are "crowned" kings and may move both backwards and forwards diagonally. The object is to eliminate from play the opponent's pieces by "jumping" them. In modern tournament play, the first three moves in a game are chosen at random from among 156 possible three-move openings, a form of the game known as three-move checkers. The game has been played in Europe since the 16th cent., and the ancients played a similar game.
See E. Lasker, Chess and Checkers (3d ed. 1960); T. Wiswell, The Science of Checkers and Draughts (1973).
a board game for two players. The checkerboard is usually square in shape and is divided into numerous dark and light squares; the men are usually round. Like chess, the game simulates the actions of combatants following specified rules of competition.
The earliest evidence of checkers is found in remains of ancient Egypt. The game was known to the people who populated the territory of what is now the USSR as early as the third century. Various forms of the game are distinguished by the number of squares on the board, the number of men, and different rules. The best-known forms are Russian draughts (shashki), English draughts or checkers, German draughts (Damenspiel), and Spanish checkers, all of which are played with 12 pieces on a board of 64 squares; the French game called Polish draughts (dames à la polonaise), played with 20 pieces on a board of 100 squares; and Canadian draughts or checkers, played with 30 pieces on a board of 144 squares.
National checkers championships were first held in the 19th century. The first Russian championship, held in 1896, was won by S. A. Vorontsov, who died undefeated. A. I. Shoshin, V. I. Shoshin, N. A. Kukuev, and others later won the championship numerous times. Polish draughts spread from France to many countries and later became the modern game of international checkers.
According to the rules of play, the men are moved diagonally forward on the dark squares in either direction, one square at a time. The opponent’s pieces can be captured by jumping forward and backward onto unoccupied squares. A man that reaches the last row of squares on the board becomes a king (in some languages, a queen) and has the right to move any number of squares. The object of the game is to capture the opponent’s pieces or to create a situation in which they cannot be moved.
Three rules in international 100-square checkers create greater opportunities for performing intricate positional maneuvers and combinations: (1) the player must take the larger number of pieces where there are several possible jumps; (2) a piece that reaches the last row of the board by jumping is not kinged until the next move; and (3) when a piece reaches the last row and is forced to take more of the opponent’s pieces, it is not kinged.
World championships in 100-square checkers have been held since 1894. The first world champions were the Frenchmen I. Weiss (1894–1912), S. Bizot (1925–26), M. Fabre (1926–28, 1931–33), M. Reichenbach (1933–45), and P. Ghestéme (1945–47) and the Dutchmen G. Haugland (1912–25) and B. Springer (1928–31). The World Checkers Federation (FMJD) was founded in 1947 and comprised 22 national organizations in 1977. The Soviet Union joined in 1956. The official FMJD competition for men is conducted in four stages over a course of four years. In the first year the Great Olympic Tournament is held; the national champions and the world champion participate, and the winner is declared world champion. In the second year there is a match for the world championship between the former world champion (if the world champion who participated in the first-year tournament lost the title) and the tournament winner. In the third year a tournament of challengers is held. In the fourth year a match is held for the world championship between the champion and the winner of the tournament of challengers.
World champions have included P. Rozenburg (1948–55), T. Sijbrands (1972–76), and H. Wiersma (1976), all of the Netherlands; M. Delorier of Canada (1956–58); and I. I. Kuperman (1958–68, 1975–76), V. I. Shchegolev (1960–61, 1964–65), and A. G. Andreiko (1968–72), all from the Soviet Union.
European Championships for men, originally called the European Cup, have been held since 1965. Champions have included Kuperman (1965), Sijbrands (four times, 1967–71), Andreiko (1974), and R. S. Leschinskii (1977). World youth championships, held since 1972, have been won by the Soviet masters N. N. Mishchanskii (1972) and E. M. Skliarov (1976). Tournaments for the women’s world championship have been held since 1974, and E. K. Mikhailovskaia of the USSR has won four times.
In 1947 two honorary titles were instituted: international grandmaster (Jan. 1, 1977), which has been awarded to 12 persons, including the Soviet players Kuperman, Shchegolev, and A. A. Gantvarg, and international checkers arbiter, awarded to 17 persons, five of them Soviet. Representatives of the USSR have been elected vice-president of the FMJD: S. G. Tambiev (1955–64), G. Ia. Torchinskii (1964–72), and L. A. Chubarov (since 1972).
Championships have been held in the USSR since 1924 in Russian shashki and since 1954 in international 100-square checkers. The USSR Checkers Federation was founded in 1924 and has been an independent all-Union federation since 1960. The title Grandmaster of the USSR was instituted in 1961, and there were 14 persons with the title in 1977. Outstanding champions in Russian shashki include V. A. Sokov, Z. I. Tsirik, V. Medkov, V. R. Gabrielian, and A. M. Plakkhin. Andreiko, Kuperman, and Shchegolev have all won more than one competition in international 100-square checkers. The top women checkers players are I. V. Spasskaia, E. K. Mikhailovskaia, and E. V. Sorkina in shashki and L. G. Travina in international checkers.
In 1977 the USSR Checkers Federation had approximately 3 million members, including about 900 masters of sport and more than 1.7 million players with official sports ratings. Each year all-Union youth championships are held in shashki and 100-square checkers, as well as team competitions among republics and sports societies for the USSR cup and the Wonder Checkers and Great Checkers tournaments and other games for Pioneers and schoolchildren.
Checkers composition is an independent area of checkers.
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L. A. CHUBAROV