Understanding Different Checkers Variants: A Comprehensive Overview

Checkers, known as draughts in some parts of the world, is a classic board game that has been enjoyed for centuries. The standard version of checkers, often referred to as American checkers or English draughts, is played on an 8×8 board. However, there are several variants of the game that offer exciting rule changes and unique challenges. In this article, we will delve into the world of different checkers variants, with a special focus on international checkers (10×10), highlighting their distinct rules and characteristics.

1. American Checkers (English Draughts): The Classic Variant

Before we explore the various checkers variants, let’s start with the classic version, American checkers (or English draughts). This is the most common variant and serves as the foundation for many of the variations we will discuss.

In American checkers, the game is played on an 8×8 board, with each player starting with 12 pieces. The primary objective is to capture all of your opponent’s pieces or immobilize them so that they can’t make any legal moves. Pieces move diagonally forward, and upon reaching the opponent’s back row, they are “kinged.” Kings have the ability to move diagonally in both directions, adding a layer of strategy to the game.

2. International Checkers (10×10): A Larger Challenge

International checkers, also known as Polish draughts, Russian checkers, or 10×10 checkers, is a popular variant that is played on a larger 10×10 board. This variant introduces several rule changes that make it more complex and strategically challenging than American checkers.

Here are the key features of international checkers:

  • Board Size: The board consists of 100 squares arranged in a 10×10 grid, which is more extensive than the 8×8 grid of American checkers.
  • Pieces: Each player begins with 20 pieces instead of 12, providing more opportunities for movement and strategy.
  • Capture Rules: In international checkers, captures are mandatory. If you have the opportunity to capture an opponent’s piece, you must do so. This rule adds an extra layer of complexity to the game, as players need to think ahead to avoid forced captures.
  • Promotion: Unlike American checkers, pieces in international checkers do not become kings. However, the larger board size allows for more complex tactical maneuvers and long-range jumps, making the game quite challenging.
  • Game Objective: The goal remains the same: capture all of your opponent’s pieces or immobilize them. However, the larger board and mandatory capture rules add depth to the strategic aspect of the game.

International checkers is favored by players looking for a more intricate and demanding version of the classic game. It requires a deeper understanding of tactics and a heightened level of concentration.

3. Spanish Checkers: A Unique Twist

Spanish checkers, also known as Spanish draughts, is a variant of the game that is particularly popular in Spain and parts of South America. While it is often played on an 8×8 board, Spanish checkers introduces an interesting rule change.

The primary distinction in Spanish checkers is the movement of the pieces. In this variant, pieces can move diagonally both forward and backward, which adds a layer of complexity to the game. However, the capturing rules and objectives remain the same as in American checkers, making it relatively easy for players familiar with the standard version to adapt to this variant.

4. Turkish Checkers: A Unique Variation

Turkish checkers, also known as Dama, offers a different twist on the game. This variant is played on an 8×8 board, similar to American checkers, but it introduces a unique rule regarding the promotion of pieces.

In Turkish checkers, pieces can promote to “flying kings” when they reach the last row, just like in American checkers. However, flying kings can move diagonally any number of squares in any direction. This rule provides a significant advantage to the player with flying kings, making the endgame particularly intense.

5. Brazilian Checkers: A New Challenge

Brazilian checkers, also known as Brazilian draughts or Damas, is a popular variant in Brazil. It is played on an 8×8 board, similar to American checkers, but introduces some distinctive rule changes.

One of the main differences in Brazilian checkers is that pieces can move and capture both forward and backward, adding an extra layer of strategy and complexity to the game. The promotion of pieces to kings is similar to the standard American rules, with kings having the ability to move diagonally in both directions.

6. Canadian Checkers: A Classic with a Twist

Canadian checkers, also known as Canadian draughts, is a variant that combines elements of American and international checkers. It is played on an 8×8 board and follows the rules of American checkers with some significant exceptions.

In Canadian checkers, the rule of “flying kings” is introduced, allowing kings to make long-range jumps, similar to international checkers. This rule adds an element of strategy and foresight to the game, making it more challenging and dynamic.


Checkers is a classic board game with a rich history and a variety of exciting variants. Whether you prefer the traditional American checkers, the complexity of international checkers, or the unique rules of other variants, there is a checkers game to suit your taste. Each variant offers its own set of rules and challenges, making checkers a game that can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels. So, choose your preferred variant, set up the board, and enjoy the thrill of checkers in all its diverse forms. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, these checkers variants offer a world of strategic possibilities and endless fun.

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