Thursday, February 10, 2022

From Ancient History to Rock Star Fans – Check out Checkers  

It’s a brand-new year and great to once again be looking forward to all the new and exciting things coming up in the next twelve months. Here at TreeCardGames, we’re thrilled to be expanding our range to include the ever-popular Checkers (also known as Draughts) in our collection, but while Checkers might be new to our catalog, the game itself has been around longer than you probably think.  

Here are a few fun facts about the history of Checkers (Draughts) you might not know already– 

What’s in a name?

So, is it Checkers - or is it Draughts? What you call it depends (these days) on where in the world you come from - Checkers is the US name for the game, and Draughts is the British, although both versions are played in the same way. However, the game itself has been around for thousands of years, with antique versions having been discovered dating back to 4000BC. Throughout history, early versions of Checkers have been known by other names. Originating in the Middle East and played globally, variations on the name include - Alquerque, Quirkat, and Fierges. Despite this, little has changed in the way that it is played or how it looks. The version we know and love today is still strikingly similar to a version found by archaeologists in what was once Ancient Mesopotamia. A few new rules have been added since then, but this is essentially still the pastime enjoyed by many of our earliest ancestors!

 Famous Fans – From Philosophers to US Generals

Checkers has been beloved the world over, partly thanks to being a favorite hobby of some of history’s most influential people. The Greek writer Homer mentioned the game being played in the palaces of Ulysses in the epic poem Odyssey, written in the 8th century. Historical evidence suggests that both Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington enjoyed playing, and US General Ulysses S. Grant praised the checkers as being good for sharpening the mind. More recently, U2 front man Bono has confessed to enjoying a game or two of draughts – his opponent? None other than former Take-That singer Robbie Williams, another celebrity board-game super-fan. 

Checkers Champion of the World

As with many other popular strategy-based games, Checkers has seen a select few players rise to become world champions. Mathematician Marion Franklin Tinsley was considered one of the greatest competitors in history and was called the ‘Beethoven of the checkers’. World champion for almost twenty years, Dr. Tinsley claimed to have spent more than 10,000 hours studying the game while at graduate school. Tinsley once famously defeated the Chinook computer program. Lead programmer for Chinook, Jonathan Schaeffer, calculated that Dr. Tinsley was able to see an incredible 64 moves ahead, allowing him to easily win. 

An ideal choice for players of all ages, checkers is a great introduction to games that promote mathematics, strategy, and planning. While we’re certainly not suggesting you spend 10,000 hours learning how to mastermind your moves like Dr. Tinsley, with a simple layout and easy-to-follow rules,

Checkers is a game we recommend everyone try. Don’t forget to check back regularly for news and updates on and to learn more about the games we love to share with you.