Teach kids how to play checkers for a fun and easy screen-free activity that’s great for all ages. Learn the rules and strategy tips.
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Checkers is a classic kids’ game that doesn’t require much setup and is easy to learn. This strategy game is perfect to teach younger kids, but older kids will enjoy playing too.
If you’re looking for a place for kids to play checkers online for free, it’s available on Cool Math Games. You can play against the computer or a friend.
It’s also a great screen-free activity to play anytime! You need an 8-by-8 square grid of dark and light boxes, plus a dozen pieces per player.
Although this is a 2-player game, you can play with larger groups by dividing into pairs and doing a tournament bracket.
Below we’ve shared the instructions for how to play checkers.
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How to play checkers
You’ll need a checkerboard and checkers in 2 colors to play (usually red and black). If you don’t have a checkerboard, make your own with paper and markers. You can use buttons, coins, or similar small items for the pieces. Just be sure that it’s easy to identify the 2 teams.
The checkerboard is 8 squares long and 8 squares wide, alternating between light and dark squares.
Each player needs 12 flat, round checker pieces. After reaching the opposite side of the board, a regular checker piece becomes a king, so you’ll need to be able to identify what makes him special. Checker pieces can be stacked or flipped upside-down to do that. If you’re making your own, add a sticker to the king side of your pieces.
We have this jumbo checkers game that includes a fabric checkerboard mat and 3-inch checker pieces.
Choose a player to go first. That player traditionally takes the dark pieces.
Players sit across from each other with the checkerboard between them. A dark square should be in the bottom left corner. Each player lines up their pieces on the dark squares in the 3 rows closest to them – 4 checkers per row.
Each player takes turns moving a piece. On your turn, you can move one piece.
Pieces can only move:
- diagonally on dark squares
- toward the opposite side – until a piece becomes a king
- one square at a time – unless jumping
If your piece comes up against the other player’s piece, jump over it into the empty square on the other side. You can only jump over one square, so if the square on the other side isn’t empty, you cannot move that way. After jumping over a piece, remove it from the board.
If after jumping over a piece (and removing it) you can immediately jump over a second piece, you can make a second move in the same turn.
Move your pieces down the board, jumping over the other player’s pieces when you can, and trying to get to the opposite side. When you do, your piece becomes a king. There isn’t a limit on how many kings you can have.
Kings can move:
- still only diagonally on dark squares
- toward either side of the checkerboard
- still one square at a time – unless jumping
How to win a checkers game
Players take turns moving, jumping, and making kings until only one player’s pieces remain on the board. Whichever player captures all of the other player’s pieces first wins.
A player is also declared the winner if the other player is blocked and cannot move any pieces.
Checkers strategy tips
- A piece can only become a king by reaching the edge, so keep your back pieces in place as long as you can.
- You can only jump over a single piece, so keeping pieces close together makes them safer.
- The winner only needs to have one piece left on the board, so you’ll probably have to sacrifice some of your pieces to capture the other player’s pieces.
- Make lots of kings – they can move in either direction.
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