Play consists of advancing a piece diagonally forward to an adjoining vacant square. Black moves first. If an opponent’s piece is in such an adjoining vacant square, with a vacant space beyond, it must be captured and removed by jumping over it to the empty square. If this square presents the same situation, successive jumps forward in a straight or zigzag direction must be completed in the same play. When there is more than one way to jump, the player has a choice. When a piece first enters the king row, the opponent’s back row, it must be crowned by the opponent, who places another piece of the same colour on it. The piece, now called a king, has the added privilege of moving and jumping backward; if it moved to the last row with a capture, it must continue capturing backward if possible. A win is scored when an opponent’s pieces are all captured or blocked so that they cannot move. When neither side can force a victory and the trend of play becomes repetitious, a draw game is declared.
Games similar to checkers were played in the days of the early Egyptian pharaohs (c. 1600 bc) and were mentioned in the works of the Greek writers Homer and Plato. About the 12th century ad an early form of the game was adapted to the 64-square chessboard, and by the 16th century the rule compelling capture had been added, producing a game essentially the same as modern checkers.