Difference between Chess and Checkers

Published on February 5, 2016

‘A board game that requires wit and is played on an eight by eight grid game board’, is probably the only similarity that chess and checkers have. One might state that one is harder than the other, but one might also protest that the difficulty of each game is the same. Depending on how you play it, the answer can be either.



Chess vs Checkers
Chess with starting positions of game pieces

Chess is a two-player board game that is played on a chess board ( a type of checker board that consists of 64 squares having 8 rows and 8 columns). The game is believed to have originated in India in the 6th century with the Indian name chaturanga (likely ancestor of the game xiangqi and shogi). In the late 15th century, the pieces took on their individual capabilities and in the 19th century, the rules were standardized.


  • The game is played on an 8×8 grid with alternate shades of white and black on each square.
  • Each chess piece has its own movement.
  • The player with the white pieces will always take the first move. Players will then alternately move one piece per turn. (One cannot forfeit his/her move, otherwise the game is won by the other player).
  • Once in every game, castling (moving the king two squares along the first rank toward a rook) is allowed with special conditions:
    1. The king or the rook hasn’t been moved previously.
    2. There are no other pieces between the rook and the king.
    3. The king shouldn’t be in Check (a condition where a player’s king is under threat).
  • A pawn can be promoted to any rank as long as it has reached the eighth rank of the board.
  • Winning conditions include Checkmate (player’s king is under threat and no other moves can remove the threat), Resignation (player concedes due to a hopeless situation), Loss on time (a player runs out of time on games with time control), and Forfeit (disqualification due to violation of rules specified in a particular tournament).
  • Games can end in a draw if:
    1. Both players agree.
    2. A player has no legal move while not in check.
    3. Both players are not able to avoid repeating the same move.
    4. If during the 50 first moves no pieces were captured.
    5. Pieces left on the board are not able to checkmate one or the other (King vs King).


  • King – Can move one square in any direction with the exception of castling.
  • Queen – Can move any number of squares diagonally, horizontally, and vertically.
  • Rook – Can move any number of squares horizontally and vertically with the exception of castling.
  • Bishop – Can move any number of squares diagonally.
  • Knight – Moves two squares vertically and one square horizontally, or moves two squares horizontally and one square vertically (having the shape of an ‘L’).
  • Pawn – Moves one square in front of it with the exception of moving two squares provided both squares are occupied and it is its first move (capturing an opponent’s piece requires one square diagonally in front of it).


Checkers with starting positions of game pieces

Checkers is a popular form of Draughts (group of strategy board games) in the UK that is a two-player board game involving diagonal moves of game pieces on an 8×8 grid totaling 64 squares. It is also known as straight checkers or American checkers. The objective of checkers is to be the player with the most game pieces remaining on the board, or to wipe-out/capture all of your opponent’s game pieces.


  • Game is played by 2 players, each having either black pieces or white pieces.
  • 12 game pieces per side.
  • Player with the black pieces moves first, then alternates after each turn.
  • Movement consists of only moving diagonally to an adjacent unoccupied square. (If adjacent square contains an opponent’s piece and the next adjacent square diagonally is vacant, the piece may be captured/removed from the game).
  • Only the dark squares of the checkered board may be used.
  • A piece can’t jump backwards (unless crowned a king).
  • A piece can be crowned a king (reaching the farthest row forward), and will be able  to move backwards including capturing an opponent’s piece with the ability to make successive jumps as long as each jump is intended to capture/remove a piece. (The same is true for non-king pieces but they won’t be able to jump backwards)

Chess vs Checkers

What’s the difference between chess and checkers? Physically, the only difference is the number of game pieces and the shape of each piece. In terms of game mechanics, they actually are two different board games, each having their own unique feel.

Starting with their history, checkers is believed to have been around for thousands of years dating from 3000 BC, while chess originated around the 6th century (early form known as chaturanga). One thing that’s been debated for a very long time is “which is harder?”, and the answer lies in how each player interprets the game itself.

While a casual player who has played both chess and checkers may state that chess is harder (since it involves more moves and rules), a professional player of either game may perceive each one as both difficult and requiring a lot of hard work. The games may have different mechanics but the same level of concentration and strategy is needed to win. Quoting one of the greatest checkers players:

“Chess is like looking across an ocean. Checkers is like looking down a well.”

–          Dr. Marion F. Tinsley

In contrast to Dr. Marion F. Tinsley’s belief, checkers is popularly known as the lazy man’s chess because it is something that people do when there’s nothing else to do, winning with only one’s luck and patience. Super computers can solve a checkers game in 2 weeks while a chess game takes a month or two, but a person’s mind is not the same as a super computer. A player will therefore still need to strategize to win.

The debate will always continue, and however one views them, both are two player board games that need strategy to win.

Comparison Chart

Dates from around 3000 BCDates from around 6th Century
16 game pieces for each player12 game pieces for each player
White moves firstBlack moves first
Game pieces have their own movementAll game pieces have the same movement
Played on an 8×8 grid totaling 64 squaresPlayed on an 8×8 grid totaling 64 squares
A pawn can be promoted to any game piece’s ability (queen, rook, bishop,knight) by reaching the farthest row forwardA game piece can be promoted to a king (ability to move backwards) by reaching the farthest row forward


Here are some videos that can help you learn how to play chess or checkers.

For Chess, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA-fA5eLGpY

For Checkers, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuQY1_fCVsA