As trade broadened it's horizon, African, Greek
and Roman culture spread its wings as well
and one of the legacies that left its mark
on Europe and the Middle East. Past alquerque,
checkers or draughts came around the sixth
century A.D. There was the ancient game of
the parent game to modern Checkers or Draughts.
Checkers or Draughts
As time passed, checkers games were played and soon
the basic rules took on a new dimension. Before the
eighth century A.D., another promotion rule was devised
by an Arab checkers player because he thought that
the king required greater freedom of movement and soon
the long king came into being.
As the Arab people, the Moors, conquered the province
of Spain, so did their culture capture Spanish hearts
in the past alquerque game of checkers because the
new Arab version was more lively and quick than Roman
checkers with the short king. In a treatise on games
commissioned by the king of Castile and Leon, Alfonso
X and completed by 1283, court officials presented
a list and description of all the board games played
by the aristocracy and plebians of the area. Past Alquerque,
chess and table games were the most fashionable and
were richly detailed and illustrated, whereas the more
so called simplistic game of Alquerque or Checkers/Draughts
was quickly disposed of in a short careless sketch
of the game rules. Luckily, however, a more thorough
clerk also included a drawing of the current checkers
game board with the opening position. This was still
based on the ancient past Egyptian checkerboard.
This ancient game also gained popularity in Northern
Europe and some time ca 1100 or perhaps a little later,
the French began playing Alquerque or Checkers/Draughts
on a chessboard instead of the ancient 5 x 5 point
board, where the pieces moved in a nonsymmetrical pattern.
They called the new game “Fierges” or “Ferses”,
but later changed the name to “Jeu
de Dames” or “Dames”.
In this past alquerque game, players were not forced
to take the opponent’s pieces when presented
with the opportunity but a new challenge was created
in the play on a checkered surface. Checkers Draughts
game players from other countries also adopted this
new custom, but English players soon chose the name
Checkers because the game was played on a checkerboard.
In 1535, the character of the game changed yet again by a new innovation
when the French incorporated another move into the play. This rule forced
a checkers player to capture an opposing piece whenever possible and
now another name emerged: Jeu Force. Capturing now became mandatory on
the penalty of the huff. If a checkers
player overlooked the capture, then the opponent took the piece off the
board, brought it to his lips and blew. Now English
Checkers/Draughts had a new rule:
moving a piece from the board. Spanish players also adopted this play
but extended it with multiple capture where multiple take precedes single take.
From then on, numerous variations began to develop within the game of
Checkers/Draughts. In 1727, a faction of “Jeu
Force” players broke away from the norm and began playing the
game on a 10 x 10 checkered board, which later became known as Continental
Draughts or Checkers. However, the game continued to be played on a 64
square board in England and was eventually renamed Draughts. When this
game was brought to North America, it became the game of Checkers.