Difference between Chess and Checkers
By Theydiffer - 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.



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