Checkers Around the World
Alquerque Checkers Game
This ancient board game appears to be the original
version and forerunner to Checkers and Draughts.
Many variants of Alquerque boards have been
found, which indicates that a whole family
of games once existed. The oldest known game
board is unfinished and can be seen carved
into the roof of the temple at Qurna, Egypt,
which was built ca 1400 BC. There is no evidence
of the game alquerque checkers in literature until the 10th century
and even then, there was no mention of the
actual rules by which to play. Since the game
is not played by modern society, then the rules
that we associate with it are based largely on
or ‘Book of
was commissioned by Alfonso X of Castile during
the 13th century. This manuscript describes
the game board and a version of Alquerque rules.
Ancient Forerunner to Modern Checkers
Rules of the Alquerque Checkers Game:
~ The Game Board ~
- Alquerque checkers game is played
on a special board of 5 x 5 points that
are connected by horizontal, vertical and
diagonal lines to create a grid of 16 squares.
An empty Alquerque board.
- The diagonal lines that traverse the
grid between the squares are an indication
of which moves are allowed in the game.
- Two players use 12 black pieces and 12
white pieces and it is easy to see that
these could resemble checkers in Checkers/Draughts
- The playing pieces could be any shape
and material, but it’s believed that
the common pieces were typically disks or
Object of the Alquerque Game
- The objective of the Alquerque game
is to place the opponent in a trapped position
so that he/she cannot make another move
and this can be achieved by capturing all
the game pieces or by blocking existing
pieces on the board so that no further
moves are possible; this is the same objective
that is pursued in both Checkers and Draughts
~ The Starting Position ~
- Before commencing the game, each opponent
places the twelve game pieces in the two
rows nearest the players and in the two
rightmost spaces in the center row.
- One player uses the light game pieces
and the other uses the dark game pieces
and the opponents alternate making moves.
- A coin is tossed to decide which player
makes the first move, though it is believed
that playing first is a disadvantage because
the player lacks initial options.
~ Game Moves & Captures ~
- A piece can move from its point to any
adjacent point as long as it’s unoccupied.
- A player may only move his/her piece
along the lines inscribed in the board.
- During each turn, the opponents either make
an ordinary move along the line to an empty point
or a capturing move of an opposing piece.
- A capturing jump over an opponent’s
piece can be made if the opposing piece
is adjacent to the moving piece and the
point beyond is unoccupied; once the capture
has been made, the opposing piece is removed
from the game board.
- A capturing move may consist of a sequence
of jumps if there are empty points between
the pieces and other pieces along the lines.
- Multiple capturing jumps are allowed
and compulsory, if possible.
- A capturing move must be made if it is
possible, but if a player fails to complete
this move, then the piece is ‘huffed’ or
removed from play.
~ Win or Draw Alquerque Games~
To make the game more interesting, R C Bell
developed additional rules as stated in his
and Table Games of Many Civilizations”.
Compulsory capture and ‘forward
only’ rules from Checkers/Draughts
are adapted into the game of Alquerque.
- The player who captures all the opponent’s
pieces or blocks further moves on the
board wins the game.
- The player who has more pieces wins the game
when no further captures are available.
- A draw can occur at any point during
the alquerque game as long as both players
- If both opponents have the same
number of pieces left and no
further capture is possible, then
a draw is the outcome.
- Draws are common within this alquerque
- If there is an opportunity to capture
one or more opposing pieces, then the
player must do so.
- If a piece captures an opposing piece
and a new opportunity arises to capture
another piece, then the jump must continue
- If a player fails to follow through on
a capturing opportunity, the opponent
may ‘huff’ the
piece before the next move is made and
so the piece is removed from the board.
- The player has a free choice of which piece
to move if more than one is in a position
to capture opposing pieces.
- The player is also able to choose which
direction to move a capturing piece if
it is able to capture in more than one
- It is not compulsory to move a piece
or to take the direction that will result
in the most captures.
- A player may not move the game piece
backwards but only vertically or horizontally
and diagonally forwards.
- When an opponent has moved the piece
to the final row, it can only move by
- No piece may be returned to a point which it has occupied before.
- A player has won the alquerque game when
all the opponent’s pieces have been
captured or when the opponent cannot move
any pieces on the board.
Additional Rules Also Added:
- Each player may move the game pieces
along the lines in any direction.
- After the initial jump, additional captures
must be made, if possible.
- If a player has the choice between several
captures, the one which offers the maximum
number of opposing pieces must be chosen.
- If capturing options give the same number
of pieces, then the player must choose
the capture that will guarantee as many
kings as possible.
- In order to win alquerque checkers,
a player must capture all the opposing