In some situations there are more moves
that can be made but the player may not remember
every one. Then the player should examine
the worst moves, such as giving one or more
men away. Most of these can quickly be eliminated
from further consideration since each move
may result in an outright loss or may give
the opponent an undecided advantage. Using
this method, remembering checkers first moves,
best available moves and playable moves are
soon determined and focus can be directed
Remembering Checkers First Moves
First Move and Look Ahead
Now is the time to analyze each situation accurately
and swiftly, visualizing the changes in position
as far in advance as is possible and then pick
the checkers first move that is considered to
be the best one. Just as each player hopes to
make the best checkers moves of his/her choice,
he/she should always expect the opponent to
make the best first checkers moves as well.
In checkers strategy literature, the game has
been divided into three phases and this is especially
worthwhile to consider for study purposes. Therefore,
a checkers game consists of an opening, a midgame
and an endgame. The chief motives underlying
each phase of the checker game are very distinctive
and lead to specific tactical situations.
The dominant theme of the opening checkers first
Moves can be construed as the preparation for
the battle, which will ensue throughout the
midgame and this midgame conflict is thereby
resolved in the endgame, where each checker
player seeks to prove the real value of the
advantages gained or lost during the earlier
play. The endgame checkers strategy is the most
crucial phase of the checker game. The opening
and midgame merely set the stage for the endgame
by creating good prospects, whereas in the endgame
both opponents consider the actual result of
a win, loss or draw. If a player is careless
during this stage of the checker game, then
all the brilliant tactics or strategies of the
opening checkers move or midgame become worthless.
However, the endgame checkers strategy, while
demanding both precision and artistry, may
actually present the player with an opportunity
to recover from a weak position and turn defeat
into victory. In checkers, the best player
wins as seen by the result in the endgame.
A checker player should not consider trading
off when one or more men are ahead as poor
sportsmanship, but rather that this is the
scientific and proper way to finish a game.
The object in checkers is to win in the least
number of moves, whether by a blocked position,
cornering an opponent's checkers so that he/she
can only give them away or by whittling them
down, one by one. In many situations where
an advantage in numbers prevails, the win cannot
be forced except by exchanges. Among experts,
an ending with uneven numbers, unless there
is a position advantage to compensate, is merely
During the nineteenth century, master players
thought that the proper goal in playing checkers
was to win the game. However, that view has changed
in modern society. Nowadays, the prevalent view
is that each player should first and foremost
play to avoid defeat, which means to play for
Of course, if an opportunity for a win should
present itself, then the endgame checkers strategy
should be played for the win. However, each
checker player should always keep the draw in
sight. To the modern checker player then, an
opening is not weak if it is safe for a draw,
even though it may offer virtually no chances
for a win.
Acquired knowledge in the game of checkers
is essential and this can be achieved through
the study of expert play in available literature
and there are numerous materials that can be
the basis of this early investigation. Combine
this information on rules and strategies with
plenty of practice in the game.
Novice First Moves
However, it is also important to decide upon
the format of play that interests the novice
checker player. People who don't play in Checkers
tournaments usually begin a game by just beginning
and that means that the opponents choose to
play whatever format they like to play. This
particular style is called Go-As-You-Please
or GAYP. On the professional level, it results
in numerous draws, due to the great knowledge
these masters bring to the game.
To add more depth and challenge to checkers,
the Two-Move Restriction was introduced in the
1890s and within this format, the first two
moves of a game were chosen by lot from certain
pre-approved combinations. The Two-Move Restriction
certainly changed the checker game by eliminating
many draws, though still not enough.
For this reason, the Three-Move Restriction
was introduced at the 1934 world championship.
The participants chose moves by lot from a list
of officially sanctioned "three-move
openings" and an even greater arena
for positional play was created. This system
is still prevalent in world matches today; however,
there are also separate tournament matches and
world championships for Go-As-You-Please games.
A third system, wherein one checker from each
opposition is removed by lot before the first
move, is also used but this method is less popular
in checker culture.
Therefore, the checker enthusiast should decide
the style of play that is preferred, whether
it is GAYP/freestyle or 3-move. Most U.S. tournaments
are conducted in the 3-move style, but there
are also those that employ GAYP. All world checker
organizations hold their own GAYP tournaments
on a regular basis.
It is important for the novice player to select
the literature that he/she can relate to easily;
however, if GAYP is chosen, then the checker
player could consult “Lees'
Guide” by a former British Draughts/Checkers
player. For 3-move play, Richard Pask's “Total
Checkers” is considered to be
the modern opening bible. Be aware that no
checker book is guaranteed to be error free.
Exhibit good judgment, using the tools learned
from checker study, when analyzing a line of
play. Don't take the author's word for it,
for there may be a better way.
Also, there are positions in checkers that have
taken master players centuries to analyze, so
it is not wise to spend time trying to duplicate
this analysis from its beginning. Develop a goal
in checker study and only do the work that is
necessary and directly related to that goal or
a lot of time could be wasted.
This, then, brings the novice checker player
to a serious question. Which battle should
the beginner fight first? Numerous masters
recommend that the unseasoned checker player
should start with positions of greatest application
to cross board play. The definition for cross
board is a position unknown to one or both
players and its very solution must be analyzed
during the game or "across
the board". It is a rare event
when two players do not encounter a cross board
position at some point during a game. The
best way to prepare for the unknown is through
Before any study is begun, the beginner should
set up a journal wherein checkers first moves
and strategies can be recorded. It is
also important to notate mistakes that are made,
especially if the mistake is a recurring one.
This book or manuscript, if you will, can be
referred to later as personal reference material.
In a match situation, this becomes a resourceful
tool to use to also record the opponents strategies
and may be the only way to squeak out of a draw
into a winning play.
Endgame books, such as “Familiar
Themes”, demonstrate strategic
ideas that can be used in a variety of situations.
Therefore, the practice of solving endgame
problems forces the novice checker player to
consider all pieces on the board carefully
and to use precision and timing to make the
most out of a small, unexpected advantage.
Each page of “Familiar
Themes” contains numerous problems
that are based on a single strategic theme.
Discovering a theme in a variety of seemingly
dissimilar positions encourages the beginner
in checkers to process the subtleties of a
drawing or winning idea.
As in any sport, practice sessions must simulate
the real situation and this is no different
when studying the plays within a game of checkers.
The novice should not move any pieces while
trying to solve a problem on the checkerboard.
This is strictly forbidden in tournament play
so there is no point in getting used to doing
it while practicing the strategies across the
Time is a crucial element in checkers and many
tournament matches have taken hours to play
because every move was carefully thought out.
Take time to examine a position and consider
every available move regardless of how stupid
it might appear. If the game becomes tedious,
frustrating, boring or the player is simply
totally stuck, then it is best to walk away
from the board and let the situation rest for
a while. Do something else and then return to
the problem anew, with a fresh outlook. However,
at all costs resist the temptation to look up
the checkers strategy solution. The probability
of remembering how to tackle a complicated checkers
first move position years in the future improves
dramatically if the solution was discovered
naturally the first time. If it becomes absolutely
necessary to read the solution, then the checker
player should only glance at the first checkers
move before trying to solve the problem again.
Yes, this method of study is extremely taxing
work, but it yields high dividends in tournaments.