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20 Best Board Games Of All Time Ranked

The backstory of Checkers (also known as Draughts), is a bit … checkered. Its ancestor is the Middle Eastern game Alquerque (or Quirkat), which dates as far back as 1400 BCE, had a 5×5 grid board, diagonal lines, and 10 pieces per side. That game was stretched out to a 8×8 chessboard in the 12th Century, rumored to be by a gamesman in the south of France, and called Fierges. By the 15th century, it became Dames, and in England, Draughts, which derives from the Middle English plural word “draghtes.” In America, the game was called Checkers, extracting its name from the checkerboard where the player aims to capture all of their opponent’s pieces, and its first known word use was in 1712.

Andrew Carnegie credits a game of draughts (“checkers” in America) for his first baby step on his path to greatness, writing in his autobiography, “Upon such trifles do the most momentous consequences hang. A word, a look, an accent, may affect the destiny not only of individuals, but of nations.” He wasn’t the only checkers player to achieve great heights — joining the ranks of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allan Poe, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Harry Houdini, Will Rogers and Marion Tinsley, who was regarded as one of the game’s greatest players ever.

Even though none of those, or any other human player, has ever made all the 500 billion possible moves, a computer once did, taking more than 18 years to find the perfect game and “solve checkers” (spoiler alert: it’s a draw).

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