Rules of Checkers

Checkers Rules

Goal of the Game

Checkers is played with 2 players.

The goal is to be the only player with pieces on the checkerboard by capturing all of the opponent’s pieces.


  • The checkerboard has 100 squares, 50 dark and 50 light. In some foreign versions, the board has 64 squares (8×8).
  • The checkerboard should be positioned so that the lower-leftmost square is dark.

Start of the Game

  • The players choose their colors.
  • Each player places 20 pieces on the dark squares of the first four rows in front of them, this leaves the two rows in the center empty.

Course of the Game

  • Each turn, a player must move a piece. A turn cannot be skipped.
  • The captured pieces are placed next to the board.

Movement of the Pieces

  • The player with the light pieces makes the first move. Players then alternate turns.
  • Ordinary pieces can only move one square diagonally forward to an unoccupied square.
  • The pieces will always stay on the dark squares, the light squares are never used.
  • If a piece reaches the farthest square of the opponent’s side, it is crowned and is then able to move in a straight line in any of the four directions, as many squares as desired.
    • A crowned piece is distinguished by placing another checker piece (one of the captured pieces) on top of it.

Capturing Pieces

  • If an opponent’s piece is on a square adjacent to one of your pieces and the square beyond it is empty, you can capture it. In fact, you must capture it and failing to do so will result in a penalty:
    • If you forget to capture a pawn and your opponent notices then your pawn that was supposed to perform a capture is removed from the game.
  • A capture can be done in any of the four directions. This means that you can even capture a piece by moving backward.
  • It is mandatory to capture as many opposing pieces as possible in one turn:
    • If one of your pieces captures an opponent’s piece and that capturing move results in another possible capture in any of the four directions (including backward) for that same piece, you must perform that capture. You have to keep performing all the possible captures until no more is possible.
  • A crowned piece can capture many opposing pieces in one turn by changing direction as many times as needed.
  • If you have more than one possible capture move, then you have to play the move with the most captures. If you fail to do so and play a move with fewer captures you will be penalized (again, if the opponent notices).
    • The penalty, in this case, is that the piece which had the most possible capture moves is removed from the board.
  • A crowned piece is still counted as one regular piece. Therefore, capturing 3 uncrowned pieces trumps capturing 2 crowned pieces.
  • You must not return to the same square you were on before performing a sequence of captures. For example, if there is a possible sequence of captures in a diamond formation, you will be able to capture every piece except the last one because you would end up on the square you were on before starting the captures.

End of the Game

The game ends when:

  • A player has no more pieces on the board or has no more possible moves. In both of these cases, that player has lost.
  • The same position is repeated 3 times. The game ends in a draw in this case.
  • When there is either 1 crowned piece and 2 uncrowned pieces, or 3 crowned pieces, the game ends in a draw after each player has played 16 turns.

Keeping Score for Multiple Rounds

If you play multiple rounds, you might want to keep score.

Two ways of doing so would be:

  1. The winner receives 2 points and the loser doesn’t receive any points.
    • In the case of a draw, both players earn 1 point.
  2. The winner’s score is equal to the number of pieces they still have on the board.

A Variation

Capturing pieces isn’t mandatory: A player can choose whether or not to make a possible capture.

Official rules in PDF

Discover the official rules of Checkers in PDF