10 Spot Ramble: Checkers!

We all know this kid will be terribly embarrassed of this photo someday.
We all know this kid will be pretty embarrassed of this photo someday.

Someone found StealingFaith by typing in “are socks older than checkers?”


Call me crazy (I know that’s the most tame of all the terms I’ve been called in my lifetime) but I think that’s a fantastic question to ask! (The answer is, “No.”) I’ve already explored fun facts about socks, and I think this random search engine term is the perfect diving board to discover more about checkers, everyone’s favorite childhood game.


10 Spot Ramble: Checkers!


1. Checkers does not care about Prime Numbers. If the creators of checkers cared about prime numbers, which are numbers only divisible by 1 and themselves, they would not have chosen to have 64 squares on a checker board. They further thumbed their noses at mathematicians across the centuries by designating 12 playing pieces per opponent. Oh! The nerve!


2. Checkers is not a drink, nor a drinking game. It is, however, called “draughts” in many countries. Which explains why some people might find playing Checkers with a malted beverage alluring. Personally, I find a level head increases my competitiveness, so I will not be drinking a draught while playing draughts.


3. Checkers is not from New Mexico. Scholars believe the modern Checkers game evolved from a similar game played as far back as 1400 B.C. called Alquerque or Quirkat that was played in ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece and India. It’s important to note that Egypt, Rome, Greece, and India are not in the United States or New Mexico (which I think is an independent country in all ways that really matter) but it’s obvious “Alquerque” has influenced the name choice of Albuquerque.


4. International Fame and Fortune. World checkers champions have been recognized since 1847. I’m not sure why someone would travel the world for a checkers tournament, but I suppose there have been lesser rationales for going abroad. Just ask Hemingway.


5. Checkers are not Chinese. Though they share a name and similar concepts, Checkers and Chinese Checkers are not related. Chinese Checkers has nothing to do with China, and originated in Germany. The game was put on the market in the early 1900s and was called “Chinese Checkers” to capitalize on the public’s familiarity with checkers and to give the game an oriental flavor, as a marketing ploy.


6. Checkers is for Predestinationers. In the 1500s the rules of Checkers were rewritten so that, if given an opportunity to “jump” an opponent, the jump must be taken. This forced capture rule removes free choice. And the reference to predestination and Calvinism is quite obscure unless you happen to be married to a guy with a degree in Biblical Studies. Which I am. So I do know the differences between Calvinism and Armenianism, though I won’t go into that now because we’re talking about Checkers, not religion. Sheesh!


7. Checkers is Obsessive. Perhaps every hobby had its proponents who are more fanatical than rational… there is no doubt that Checkers has drawn its own following of cultic red and black square hoppers who have access to the internet. Want proof – this page, dedicated to “Leon H. Goans, who trained me in the traditional manner of (1) defeating me game after game by mail, (2) offering advice and encouragement, (3) losing to me now and then as his health deteriorated, and (4) giving me much of his checkers library.” The idea of playing Checker by mail gives me hives. But that’s because I’m not obsessive. About Checkers.


8. Level Playing Field. There are a few moves so aggressive, so cunning, so… divine that they have been banned from formal Checkers games. I don’t know what they are. I will likely never need them, as I rarely find myself in a cutthroat Checkers game. But it’s nice to know these moves exist and are banned.


9. Families that Play Together, Stay Together. Truth is, as a child my mom got so mad at my uncle over a game of Sorry she refused to let my sister and I play it as children. So the idea of board games ensuring domestic, familial bliss is a bit bogus. That being said, it makes sense that if you can play board games together there’s a decent chance your family is liking one another and communicating. So it’s not that much of a stretch to assume Checkers = Family Values.


10. Ridges are best. As an informally trained Checkers player I have experiences three different Checkers boards and playing pieces in my lifetime. This obviously makes me an expert. As an expert I’m just going to put it out there that the playing pieces with ridges are absolutely more awesome than the smooth fellers. If you’ve got a King or Queen that keeps losing its crown you’ve got a problem on your hands. Ridges make them stick better and that’s a good thing.


Thanks for enjoying your most recent addition of the 10 Spot Ramble. May all your checkered days be fruitful and full of victory.



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