the checkers story (also known as drafts), is a bit… checkered. Its ancestor is the Middle Eastern game Alquerque (or Quirkat), which dates back to 1400 BCE, had a 5×5 grid board, diagonal lines, and 10 pieces on each side. This game was extended to an 8×8 chessboard in the 12th century, rumored to have been by a player from the south of France, and called Fierges. In the 15th century it became Dames, and in England, Drafts, which derives from the Middle English plural word “draghtes”. In America, the game was called Checkers, taking its name from the checkerboard where the player aims to capture all of their opponent’s pieces, and its first known use of the word dates back to 1712.
Andrew Carnegie credits a game of checkers (“draughts” in America) as his first small step on his path to greatness, written in his autobiography, “On such trifles hang the most capital consequences. A word, a look, an accent, can affect the destiny not only of individuals, but of nations. He wasn’t the only one checkers player to great heights – joining the ranks of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allan Poe, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas EdisonHarry Houdini, Will Rogers and Marion Tinleywho was considered one of the greatest players of all time.
Even though none of these, or any other human player, has ever made the 500 billion possible moves, a computer has, taking over 18 years to find the perfect game and “solve the checkers”. (spoiler alert: it’s a draw).