Archive for Thursday, May 24, 2007

This board game has quite the checkered past

May 24, 2007

A game that my brothers and I played at home was checkers.

Did you know that each square has a number starting with the red, from right to left all the way across the board. There are eight rows of spaces that end with 32.

The reason the spaces are numbered is so people can play with a book rather than with a live opponent.

My father in law was really a good checker player and used the book a lot. Several times when I played with him, I could make two moves and he would say, "you're beat," which was very frustrating.

The first known checker games were found in Egyptian paintings, dated 1600 BC at the time of the Pharaohs.

In England and Scotland the game is still called Draughts. Historians have traced the game back by carbon dating as far as 3000 BC in Iraq.

At that time the game used a slightly different board and a different number of pieces, and no one was quite certain about the exact rules.

Around 1100, a Frenchman got the idea of playing the game on a chessboard. This meant expanding the number of pieces to 12 on a side. Through the years, there have been championship contests.

The first world checkers championship was in 1847.

It was soon found that making jumps mandatory made the game more challenging.

The first checkers program to be actually put on a computer was created in 1952 by Arthur L. Samuel. Through the years, game programs have improved primarily due to the increased capacity and speed.

There have been thousands of books written about checkers. I personally knew a man who had written several books on the subject. He was Lewis Zimmerman, my art instructor at the College of Commerce in Kansas City in 1948. He was an artist who had retired after 30 years from the Kansas City Star.

Today the game is still popular with people all around the world. It is good training in logic and thought and can be played anywhere in the winter or summer under a big shade tree.

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