Checkmate by Checkers

There are a lot of Chess variants out there, some very wild like Cirondo. Yet, so far it seems no one has ever thought to combine the “Greatest Game” with its great rival here in the West, Checkers (a.k.a. Draughts).  Well, a few evenings ago, my classmate Sander and I did precisely that while sitting over a beer and cup of tea.  The result was quite stunning.

The premise is simple.  First, take a regular and fully set up Chess board and move every other pawn up one square.  Then insert a Checkers piece in the empty square.  There should be eight of either color or sixteen in total.  Look at the image at the top of this post to see how the pre-game board should appear, depending on which color you choose for the Checkers pieces.

The standard rules for both Chess and Checkers remain the same.   Keep in mind that this isn’t two games happening simultaneously: the Checkers pieces have been fully integrated into the Chess world, so moving one of them counts as a turn, and, of course, they can (and will) be killed by the Chess pieces according to the traditional methods.

The salient changes to the mechanics are: (a) as in traditional Checkers, the Checkers pieces cannot jump over pieces of the same color, including their fellow Chess pieces; but (b) the Chess pieces of the opposite color are treated like gaps, so Checkers pieces can actually kill in a fashion similar to a Knight piece, i.e., by landing on the opponent piece.  For example:

The players have to decide before the game whether Checkers pieces (c) kill everything under and at the terminus of the jump (“terror from the skies”); (d) kill other Checkers pieces only by jumping over them and Chess pieces only by landing on them (“assassination”); or (e) kill both Checkers and Chess pieces by jumping over them but only if there is a true gap (“empty squares only”).

Whichever method the players decide upon, the Checkers piece always needs a gap to land upon, whether that gap be an empty square or an opponent Chess piece.  By the way, (d) creates a meta-rule: which opponent piece is killed would depend upon the target.  Also, in the above example, if the opponent pieces were switched (a black Pawn piece on f4 and black Checkers piece on g5), then the white Checkers piece could not attack.

The players can also decide to (f) simply do away with the notion of having opponent Chess pieces become gaps.  However, we don’t recommend this because then the Checkers pieces can become immobile and clog up the game.  We advise (b) + (d) or just (e), in which versions the Checkers pieces become real menaces, as though they were the progeny of a late night dalliance between a Bishop and a Knight piece that both would like to forget about.

The players also have to decide what happens to the rare Checkers piece that manages to survive long enough to reach the crownhead row.  Does it simply (g) gain the power to move backward (“traditional kings”) or (h) can it “fly” (“intercontinental ballistic missile”), hence becoming the most dangerous piece on the board? We don’t recommend (c) or (h) because then the Checkers pieces become too powerful and kill the fun.

Sander and I will play more games of “Chessers” to make sure there aren’t any unhappy kinks, but so far the results have been rather incredible.  As in Checkers, the balance of power can change in a flash, checkmate can take on bizarre new forms, and the whole notion of defending a piece changes.  Players really need to keep their guards up in this game.

I’m sure any number of house rules for both the Checkers pieces and the Chess pieces can be applied, resulting in even further wild variants.  We invite adventurous fans of both games to try “Chessers” out and see what they find.

On a final note, “Chessers” should not be confused with the variants proposed by either Hans Multhopp or V.R. Parton.  Their variants simply borrowed rules or attributes from Checkers and applied it to Chess.  Our variant, however, is a hybridization of the two games.  Checkmate!


9 Replies to “Checkmate by Checkers”

  1. Hmmm your opponent finishes his drink and then calmly wipes out half your forces with a single Checkers piece. Cold, bro, real cold… I like it! }:-]

  2. Interesting. but I am confused about the part which says:

    “Look at the image at the top of this post to see how the pre-game board should appear, depending on which color you choose for the Checkers pieces.”

    The colours don’t seem to make any difference. Only the positions of pawns and checkers are different. Whichever “colour you choose for the checkers pieces”, it has to be the same as your chess pieces. So black’s checker pieces have to be the same colour as his chess pieces.

    1. Hey Jer,
      I’m pretty sure he’s not referring to the player’s colours, but rather to the board colours on which the checkers are placed, in the same way we talk about a player’s Bishops being restricted to either the white or black squares on the board. The only real difference, therefore, would seem to be whether a pawn or a checker in front of the King and Queen in any way affects the game play, especially at the beginning of the game. Since each player has the opposite arrangement, does either player have any advantage in having, say, the pawn as opposed to the checker in front of the Queen, blocking or facilitating the early game strategy of freeing up the bishops and Queen?

      1. Hey there,

        Actually, I was referring to both, depending on which set of rules one chooses. It’s actually been almost a year to a day since Sander and I first developed this game, and we actually didn’t have a chance to play it more often and work out all the kinks. But, then again, Checkers is one of those games with so many house rule variants that what we proposed here should just be seen as a starting point for ideas. 🙂


  3. Hey Chris,
    I just love the whole concept of “Chessers”, being an aficionado of board games in general, and of variants and hybrids in particular! At the moment, I’m hugely interested in combining Chess variants in which the “Singularity” board(s) are integrated with Alice Chess, Grid Chess, Genesis Chess and amongst other ideas, Hex Chess, 3D Chess and Rifle Chess (qv).
    I also believe strongly in notions of Fairy pieces, inasmuch as (a) we need to innovate and update chess terminology in line with the 21st century, and at the same time (b) introduce more options for the movements and powers of the various elements of one’s “Army”/”Navy”/”Air Force”!!! In that way we could be looking at riding a tsunami of renewed interest and vigour (and potential commercial interest!) in the venerable games we all know and love!
    Hence, “Chessers” has my full support as a highly significant contribution to this endeavour. You could perhaps come up with an imaginative name for the checker pieces, inspired by your marvellous descriptions of “terror from the skies” and “assassination”!!! How about “Harrier”, “JumpJet”, StrikeBomber”, “ICBM”, “Mortar/Gun” or just plain “Assassin”, “Ninja”, “Commando” or even “Frogman” (LOL).

    1. Hahahaha this is great, thanks. I’ll leave the naming to the players. If “Chessers” ever caught on, it would be really cool to observe the phenomenon of naming and house rules developing from this very rudimentary initial idea. I wonder whether it could even be transformed into an entirely new and modern game…

  4. Some creativity exercice.
    I will try to really merge checkers pieces into chess rules, using your board position idea.

    Could be something like this:
    The board and and positions works in the same way as your way.
    Your board board has 8 checker pieces so I will assume Thai draught variant (that has 8 checker pieces).

    1- Checkers pieces have thai forced capture rule
    1.1- (Any sequence may be chosen, as long as all possible captures are made).
    2- Checkers pieces cant capture backwards.
    3-Cheker Kings have long range kills and can capture backwards.
    4-Cheker pieces capture by jumpling over other pieces ( “During a capturing move, pieces are removed immediately after a capture. Kings stop on the field directly behind the piece captured and must go on capturing from there, if possible, even in the direction where they have come from.)
    PS:Those forced capture rules means that you could be in a situations that you would be able to capture a king with a checkers piece but would not be able to and would have to capture other stuff.

    There are also some variations of this version I created, called blood bothers variations:
    The idea of the variant is to merge chess kings and and checkers kings into one piece type, because they are all called kings.

    1- The chess kings have the same rules I said before and also the anti check movement rule from chess.
    2- The checkers king also have anti check movement rules.

    This variant also have has 3 others additional rules. When creating some blood brothers variant you NEED to choose one from the many choices avaliable from each one of those rules.

    Rules A, B or C:
    A- You win when you capture one chess king or checkers king from the enemy.
    B- You win when you capture all enemy kings pieces on the board the the turn you captures the pieces.
    C- You win when you capture all enemy kings and chekers pieces (they would be able to turn into in the future).

    Rules I or II.
    I-Chess king and checkers kings can move in the same way as chess but also have the additional diagonal flying king movement of checkers.
    II-Chess king and checkers kings can move in the same way as chess but also have a additional flying king movement like in checkers but this flying movement can be made in any direction.

    Rules 1 or 2 or 3
    1- King anti forced check rule apply. This means if some forced capture movement would put THIS KING in the check position, you dont need continue this capture movement. This rule apply when checking the maximun amount of forced captures possibles to be made (and so the forced capture you will need to choose) as in rule 1.1
    2- GLOBAL King anti forced check rule apply. This means if some forced capture movement would put ANY KING ON THE BOARD in the check position, you dont need continue this capture movement. This rule apply when checking the maximun amount of forced captures possibles to be made (and so the forced capture you will need to choose) as in rule 1.1

    3- King anti forced check rule doenst apply to forced capture. If some forced capture movement put you in a check position, you will still need to make this position.

    So the variants names would be something like this.
    Blood Brothers A-I.2
    Blood Brothers A-II-3

    Anyway those rules was just a creativity exercise, and something to show how many ways you can logically add checkers pieces to the game.

    1. I think I may got something wrong on the chess side of the rules, so some changed on my rules and variations need to be made.
      Also I forgot to say something about checkers pieces capture:
      If in a turn you need to do a forced capture and all possibles forced captures movements to be choosed in this turn put your king in a check. You lose the game.

      This means you can remove the anti check capture (the rules 1, 2 or 3 of the blood brothers variations) from the blood brothers variants.
      Unless you want to change those 3 rules with other 2 rules (that are related to entire check system and not only anti forced check system)

      1- Check rule only apply to kings
      2- Check rules also apply to checkers pieces (because in the future they may become kings).
      Of course the rule number 2 is too strange and dont know why anyone would choose that rule.

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