A Look At The History of Chinese Checkers

Contrary to what most people think, Chinese checkers is an ancient game. Prior to learning the rules in playing the game, one should first understand the origin of this game.

According to scholars, Chinese checkers traces its roots from a similar game called Alquerque or Quirkat, which dates back to 1400 BC. The game was played in ancient Rome, Egypt, Greece, and India. Played on a 5 x 5 grid, it used a couple of sets of round flat pieces with varying colors. Each player had ten pieces, and the aim of the game was to capture all the checkers.

The next major development in the history of the game happened in southern France during the 13th century. The name of the game is Fierges, which extended the rules of Alquerque, and played on an 8 x 8 chess board.

During the 15th century, the game was associated with the queen in chess and changed the game's name into Jeu De James, which was later on shortened to Dames. The game gained in popularity in France during the 16th century. There were many variations to the game and one of the most popular was the 'forced capture,' where the aim was to capture a checker rather than make a different move.

Eventually, the name of the game was changed to Jeu Force. It was brought to England where it carried the name draughts. In North America, the game carried its modern name of checkers.

Dames was still being played in France and it did not apply forced capture. There it was called Le Jeu Plaisant De Dames, before it became Plaisant. The board of the game was expanded into a 10 x 10 grid and twenty checkers per player. Soon it became known as International or Continental Draughts.

International competitions are being played for Checkers, Draughts, and International Draughts. In 1847, the pioneer tournament for English Draughts was held.

Today, many variations to the game are being played worldwide but Chinese Checkers is not among them. Contrary to what you might think, checkers is not associated with China but started in Germany. In the early 1900s the game was brought to the market and used the name Chinese Checkers. The ploy was meant to capitalize on the familiarity of people with checkers as well as to put a touch of the Orient to the game. Likewise, using the name is a marketing ploy by the developers of its game.

Nevertheless, it is still a classic game preferred by board game enthusiasts.


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