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Checkers Around the World

Alquerque Checkers Game
Ancient Forerunner to Modern Checkers

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 ‘Libros de los juegos’ or ‘Book of Games’, which was commissioned by Alfonso X of Castile during the 13th century. This manuscript describes the game board and a version of Alquerque rules.

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.
Game Alquerque checkers board

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 games.

  • The playing pieces could be any shape and material, but it’s believed that the common pieces were typically disks or counters.

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 today.

~ The Starting Position ~

An empty Alquerque checkers board
  • 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~

  • 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 agree.

  • 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 checkers game.
To make the game more interesting, R C Bell developed additional rules as stated in his book, “Board and Table Games of Many Civilizations”. Compulsory capture and ‘forward only’ rules from Checkers/Draughts are adapted into the game of 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 immediately.

  • 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 direction.

  • 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 capturing vertically.

  • 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 game pieces.


International Checkers
Brazilian Checkers
or Draughts
English Draughts
(Great Britain)
Danish Draughts
Frisian Checkers Canadian Checkers Russian Checkers
Italian Checkers Polish Checkers Spanish Pool Checkers
French Checkers German Checkers African Checkers
Turkish Checkers Lasca Checkers Alquerque Checkers
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Tiers Checkers Spanish Checkers Checkers Federations

DeerLake Online Store Items

Wonder Mugs Play checkers online, and enjoy drinking from this cool wonder mug.
When adding hot liquid, the colors of the mug will change, checkers cool.

Checkers is a two-player game, where one player is assigned white-chip checkers and the other red. The aim is to play checkers online, capture all of the other player's checkers or make them impossible to move.

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