When I was in High School, and just beginning to understand the theories of chess, an old man came to visit us at the table. This episode probably then happened a park.
He watched with some intensity, as I and my opponent were engrossed in our game. After the game ended (I think I won), he asked, almost with a sneer, “so what is the difference between checkers and chess?”
I didn’t exactly why he was asking this question. But I gave him my best answer and replied, “Chess is more complicated”.
With that, the old turned around and departed. Maybe he thought I was rude and me being a male teenager, that may be true. Or is because he didn’t expect the conversation to go that way. Or he may have thought he has interacting with younger teens (after all, when I was 14 I could still pass for a 12 year-old).
So, I got to thinking, what are differences between chess and checkers. And I drew up a list. Which I promptly lost. But I remember most of it. And now with the magic of the Internet, and blogging in particular, here is my list (corrected for spelling and grammar).
WHAT IS THE SAME
The boards are identical in size (8 x 8).
Each board has 64 squares.
A man moving to the 8th rank is promoted.
It is a game usually played by only two competitors.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT
Checkers is played on a red and black board. Chess is typically played on a white and black board.
In checkers, each player starts with only 12 men. In chess, each player starts with 16 men.
In checkers, all the men look the same, move the same way, and are of equal value. In chess, the pieces look different, move differently, and are worth different values.
In checkers, Black moves first. In chess, White moves first.
In checkers, a man reaching the 8th rank can only be promoted to a King. In chess, a man reaching the 8th rank can be promoted to a Queen, a Rook, a Bishop, or a Knight. But never to a King.
In checkers, players use only 32 squares of the board. In chess, both players use all 64 squares.
In checkers, players may only move their men diagonally. In chess, players may move their pieces diagonally, forward, backwards, and horizontally.
In checkers, a player captures a man by jumping over them. In chess, a player can capture a man by occupying their place on the board.
In checkers, only a king can move backwards. In chess, Knights, Bishops, Rooks, Queens, and Kings can move backwards. Pawns are the only units that may only move forward.
In chess, there are rules for en passant and castling. No such rules exist for checkers.
In checkers, captures are mandatory. In chess, players may decline a capture.
In checkers, openings are decided by lot. In chess, opening play is determined by the players.
And for us chess enthusiasts:
Chess has a high cultural value. People equate us chess players as possessing great intelligence, a fantastic memory, and in its purest form; grace.
It is possible to be a prodigy in math, music, or chess.
Frank Brady wrote “Bobby Fischer: Profile of a Prodigy”.
Wikipedia has an article titled, “Chess Prodigy”.
No checkers player has ever been known or labeled as a prodigy.