Atari 2600 Game
Produced by:Activision
Model Number:AG003
Rarity:4 Scarce
Year of Release: 1980

Activision's third game was Checkers. It is of course the Atari version of the board game checkers. (SharQ's node below explains the basic rules well). This game features 3 difficulty levels, and can be played by one or two players. (The 3rd difficulty level is pretty hard to beat consistantly).

This game is a wonderful addition to any Atari collection, simply for the fact that almost everyone knows how to play checkers, (so it will see a lot of use).

From the instruction manual:

HOW TO BECOME AN EXPERT AT CHECKERS BY ACTIVISION
Tips from Alan Miller, designer of Checkers

Alan Miller loves the challenge of playing video games and has become the champion of Checkers and Dragster. He was a senior design engineer at Atari before joining Activision.

"I can't be very much help with tips on how to beat the computer at Checkers. When I discovered any weakness in his play, I worked to improve it. The darn machine frequently beats me.

"The computer will take the time allowed him by the difficulty level and examine all moves available for the next several plays. He will add up total pieces remaining for himself and his opponent and decide which move works best. You'll want to do the same, looking ahead as many moves as you can.

"One weakness the computer still has is that he lacks a killer instinct at the end of a game. Even when he has greater firepower than you do, he seems content to diddle about in the center of the board, not willing to risk an attack, content with a draw. This is your chance to take over the attack - but carefully!

"If you want to become a really good Checkers player, I suggest you go to the library and read up on the game, as I did before designing Checkers by ACTIVISION. There's a lot of strategy to learn. In many ways, Checkers is more difficult to play well than Chess.

"I want to acknowledge A. L. Samuels, whose pioneering work in the field of computer artificial intelligence has been a source of inspiration to me and to an entire generation of computer programmers and game players."

Alan Miller is the programmer on this title.

This game is valued at around $12 USD. Games with boxes and manuals are worth more. Sears also produced a game with this same title, but the Sears version is a clone of Video Checkers.

Checkers is a strategic board game for two players, and it is played on a board that resembles a chess board, but isn't.

Short History of Checkers

Checkers, or Draughts, as it is better known as in Europe, was first played in the 12th century. It is believed that the origin of the game lays in Spain or France. in these countries, books about how to play were published in the mid-1500s.

Playing the game

The board

An official checkers board has either 100 or 64 squares, usually black and white. They are arranged in rows to form a board of 10 * 10 or 8 * 8 squares.

The 64 square version is most popular, but having 8 more pieces to take care of certainly add to the game. (i.e I personally prefer the 100 square board)

The pieces

The checkers pieces are circular and flat "slices", looking rather like poker chips. They are usually made of wood.

If played on a full 100 square board, each player gets 20 pieces. (4 rows á 5). If played on the 64 square board, each player gets 12 pieces. (3 rows á 4). One player plays white, the other plays a different colour, usually black or red. (according to eco, black and red is also normal...)

Setting up

To set up the board for play, put pieces on all the black squares of the board, on your side. The white squares are never, under any circumstances, used in chechers.

If done correctly, you will have three rows of pieces, then two empty rows, and finally three rows of opponent pieces.

Black always has the first move.

Moving

Normal checkers pieces (more about non-normal pieces later) can only move forward, diagonally, one step at the time. If you cannot jump a piece, and there is no space for the piece to move, you piece is blocked, and cannot move.

Jumping

To "take" a piece of the opponent, you have to jump over it. You can only jump over one piece at a time, and the space on the other side of the piece you are trying to take has to be free.

At any time in checkers (and unlike chess), if you can jump a piece, you have to. When you are just learning, this is utterly annoying. However, this very much increases the strategic dimension of checkers.

+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |  :-)  |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |   W   |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|   B   |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+

In the example above (presuming you are black) you can jump over the white piece to the square marked with the smiley. The person playing white has to remove the piece from the board.

Multiple jumps



+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |   1   |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |   W   |       |   W   |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|   B   |       |       |       |   2   |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+


In this example, the black piece can take two white pieces in one turn. The first jump goes to the square marked 1. the second jump goes to the square marked 2. In this situation, both jumps are mandatory.

Kings

If you manage to get one of your pieces to your opponent's first row, you place one of your own pieces (one of the ones that have been taken out of the game) on top of the piece that made it to your opponent's first row. This double piece is now a king. This piece can now move as far as you want it to, and kings are also the only pieces that can move backwards on the board.



+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |   W   |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|  BK   |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |   W   |       |   W   |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+

If the board above is the current situation, and it is Black's turn White is fucked; The black king (BK) can clear the board completely:

+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |   3   |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |   W   |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|  BK   |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |   2   |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |   W   |       |   W   |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |   1   |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+

 

However:

  • If a king can jump, it still has to
  • Kings still have to move in diagonals only
  • Kings can still just jump over one piece at the time
  • If a king can jump, the kings jumps have higher priority than the other pieces. in other words, if there had been a black piece on the square marked "3" above, the black king would still have to do the jumps 1 and 2 before the last piece would be able to do anything.

Frequent mistakes for new checkers players

  • Black always moves first
  • You cannot jump over your own pieces
  • You can never jump over two pieces. There must be a free space behind a piece to be able to jump it.
  • If you can jump, you must
  • Single men can never move backwards - not to jump pieces, and not for "regular" moves.
  • If there are several jumps, you must take all the jumps

How you win a game

  • All your opponent's pieces are wiped off the board
  • All your opponent's pieces are blocked
  • Your opponent forgets to take a jump - It is good sportmanship to remind them, but if you want to be a bastard about it, they lose if they don't.

Strategy

    • To win games in checkers, you have to be sneaky. Good checkers players sacrifice a piece to be able to take 2-3 pieces.
    • If your opponent has a king, use it against him: It isn't hard to trap a king.
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |   W   |       |   W   |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|  BK   |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |   W   |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
|       |       |       |       |       |       |
+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+

If this is the situation in the game and it is blacks turn, Black loses his king. yes, he gets to capture two white pieces, but he will have to end his turn right next to the single white piece. Next turn, the white piece can jump the black king.

 

Most of all:HAVE FUN!


Sources:

Sadly enough, I haven't used a single source in this writeup, My dad taught me to play checkers when I was about eight, and I have loved the game ever since :)

The history tidbit in the beginning of this w/u was brutally stolen from some online gaming site that bombarded me with pop-up ads, and I will therefore, just to spite them, not quote them as a source. They probably stole it from some other site themselves.. So there :)


 

-30

Check"ers (?), n. pl. [See Checher, v.]

A game, called also draughts, played on a checkerboard by two persons, each having twelve men (counters or checkers) which are moved diagonally. The game is ended when either of the players has lost all his men, or can not move them.

 

© Webster 1913.

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