How To Play Checkers

Checkers and chess are among the world’s most beloved board games, andcan be played using the same board. The 8x8 board consisting of 64 alternating dark and light squares is a staple in many homes, parks and even bars.

Checkers is a two-person game. You’ll need a standard checkerboard with 12 checkers per player to start.

How to set up your board

Choose who will go first. If this isn't your first match, typically the person who won the last game is the one to go first. A chessboard comes with two different colors of checkers — often a combination of red, black or white. The player who goes first will take the dark-colored checkers (red in this illustration), and the other player will take the remaining color (white). 

Players sit on opposite ends of the board. The board is made of alternating light and dark squares. Place your checkers in the dark spaces so there is an empty light square in the right corner for each player. There should be three rows of four checkers each, placed only in dark squares. 


Moves to keep in mind  

There are three important checker move rules:

  • Checkers can only move diagonally on dark squares.
  • At the start of the game, checkers can only move forward, meaning toward the opposite player’s side.
  • Checkers may move up and down when they become “kings” by reaching the last row of the opposite side.

Move your checker forward diagonally, always staying on the dark squares. You are only allowed to move one checker per turn, moving one space at a time unless jumping. After the first player takes their turn the next player goes, also moving their checker forward diagonally.

How to play Checkers

Remove your opponent’s checkers from the board by jumping them if your checker is diagonal to your opponent’s and there is an empty dark space to hop to. Jump the checker by moving your piece straight over theirs and landing on the empty dark space.

Playing Checkers

If the space you land on after jumping your opponent’s checker puts you in position to jump another of their checkers, you can make a “double jump” in one move. A double jump is when two jumps are made consecutively within a single turn.


As you make your way across the board, try to get to the end of your opponent’s side. Once you reach the last row, either stack a captured checker on top of it or flip your checker over. This sets it apart from the other checkers. It is now a king and can move forward or backward diagonally. 


How do you win the game of checkers?

Whoever captures all their opponents’ checkers wins. Players continue jumping to capture checkers until one color remains on the board. You can also win checkers if you block your opponent’s pieces so they can’t make any more moves. 


What is the best first move in checkers?

According to Quadibloc, “Old Faithful” is the best first move, and one of the most popular. It involves moving the black checker from square 11 to square 15, or the second from the left diagonally to the right. 

For the second player (usually white or red), the best first move is to move from square 23 to square 18, or the second from the right diagonally to the right.

Another popular counter to the 11-15 opening move is the 22-17. 

Strategies for checkers

Guard your side: Try to keep your checkers in the last row as long as possible. This will prevent your opponent from turning their checkers into kings and having greater mobility around the board. 

Sacrifice a checker: As the saying goes, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Sometimes losing one checker may put you in the situation to capture one or more of your opponent’s. Keep in mind your long-term goal of winning instead of focusing only on defending. 

Control the center: While it’s a beginner’s instinct to move to the edge of the board to evade captivity, forming a pyramid with your checkers in the center will help keep your pieces together and prevent your opponent from reaching the end of your side.