Gothic

Checkers Variants


Turkish draughts World Championship
Turkish (orthogonal) draughts during the World Championship. (YouTube)


Gothic checkers variants employ orthogonal movement. On account of this they are more chesslike than diagonal variants. Play is characterized by slow maneuvers, suddenly interrupted by explosive combinations. Whereas diagonal checkers only uses half the board (only squares of the same colour), orthogonal checkers uses the whole board. Gothic checkers derives from the Middle Ages. These old-fangled variants function very well and are quite entertaining. Also modern variants exist. Below are described the variants that have been implemented.


Turkish draughts setup
Setup for Turkish checkers


Turkish checkers (Turkish draughts, Dama )
Pieces move and capture orthogonally, although the Man can neither step nor capture rearwards. A Man may step one square. The King may “fly” over many empty squares. Captured pieces are removed instantly from the board. Yet, the King cannot reverse direction during a capture sequence. It is mandatory to capture the longest line (i.e. it is necessary to choose the series of jumps that captures the most men). Upon reaching a promotion square, capture must continue before the Man is promoted to King. Win is achieved by capturing all the opponent’s pieces. If players have one piece each, regardless of value, the game is drawn. Sixteen pieces per player are positioned on the second and third rank, from the start. Three Kings against one wins normally. Two against one is drawn, in non-trivial positions. Turkish checkers is often played on a monochrome checkered board (8x8), sometimes using conical pieces rather than checkers. Since 2014, World Championships have taken place annually.

Armenian checkers (Tama )
Same as Turkish checkers, except that the pieces can also move diagonally (but not capture diagonally). A Man can neither step nor capture backwards. (Schmidt, W.)

Armenian checkers II
Same as Turkish checkers, except that a Man can also capture orthogonally backwards. (There is no diagonal movement.) However, curiously, a Man cannot make a backwards capture as immediate jump, but only later in the series. (Machatscheck, H.)

Armenian checkers III
Same as Armenian checkers, except that promotion occurs before terminating the capture sequence. (Schmidt, W.)

Old German (Altdeutsche Dame )
Similar to Turkish checkers, although a Man can only step diagonally forwards. It can capture in all directions except rearwards. The King moves and captures in all directions. It can “fly” over empty squares. Pieces are positioned bottommost from the start.

Old German II
Same as Old German, except that the King is “short”. A King makes one step in all orientations; jumps to capture, but only a nearby piece.

Gothic checkers
Same as above, although the King can only step one square. It cannot make long jumps, but merely capture a nearby piece. It is not necessary to capture the longest line. Upon reaching a promotion square, capture terminates and a Man becomes a King. Pieces are positioned bottommost from the start. These are probably the original medieval rules. It is a fine game. Three Kings against one wins normally. Two against one is drawn, in non-trivial positions. (Reconstruction by Blachetta.)

Gothic checkers II
Same as above, except that it is mandatory to capture the longest line. (This is a suggestion of the author.)

Adigha (PhèkIèn )
Same as Turkish, except that captured pieces are not instantly removed. This makes a great difference, as capture possibilities are removed. Upon reaching a promotion square, promotion occurs while capture continues.

Croda (Croation )
Twenty-four pieces per player. A Man steps forward, orthogonally or diagonally, but captures orthogonally in all directions. A King both moves and captures orthogonally in all orientations. The King can “fly” over many empty squares. Captured pieces are not instantly removed. (Invented in 1995 by Professor Ljuban Dedic.)

Greek checkers (Ntama )
Same as Turkish, although the King must stop immediately behind the last captured piece (“King halt”). (Alemanni gives this and the following Greek variants.)

Greek checkers II
Same as above, although it is not mandatory to capture the longest line.

Greek checkers III
Same as Turkish, although it is not mandatory to capture the longest line.

Greek checkers IV
Same as Turkish, although a Man continues capture as a King in the last rank.

Greek checkers V
Same as Turkish, although a Man continues capture as a King in the last rank. Moreover, it is not mandatory to capture the longest line.

Greek checkers VI
Same as Greek checkers, although a Man continues capture as a King in last rank.

Greek checkers VII
Same as Greek checkers, although it is not mandatory to capture the longest line. Moreover, a Man continues capture as a King in the last rank.

Universal checkers
Twenty-four pieces per player. A Man steps in all directions except to the rear. Both Man and King capture in all orientations. The King may “fly” over many empty squares. Captured pieces are not instantly removed. (Pavlovich, A.)

Turkthic (Turkish Gothic, Turkish-diagonal)
A Man steps and captures in all directions except to the rear. A King moves and captures in all eight directions, and may “fly” over many empty squares. The King must stop immediately behind the last captured piece. (The King is excessively strong.) Upon reaching a promotion square, promotion occurs while capture continues. (Boyer/Parton.)

Turkthic II
Same as above, except that the King is “short” (a suggestion of the author). A King steps and captures in all eight directions, but may only capture a nearby piece by the short leap. Three Kings against one wins normally. Two against one is drawn, in non-trivial positions.

Ossetian Keny
Same as Turkish, except that a King can reverse direction during capture. The other difference is that the capture sequence continues although promotion occurs. (Gagiyev, S.G.)

Ossetian Keny II
Same as above, except that it is not necessary to capture the longest line.

Ossetian Keny III Same as Turkish, except that a King can reverse direction during capture.

Ossetian Keny IV Same as Turkish, except that it is not mandatory to capture the longest line. A King may reverse direction during capture.

Harzdame
Both Man and King capture orthogonally in all directions, although a King may “fly” over many empty squares. Twenty-one pieces per player are placed in a triangular configuration at diagonally opposed corners. A Man steps forward or rightward to empty squares. It has only two movement freedoms toward the promotion squares, partly on the far rank and partly on the far file. Unlike in Turkish checkers, single Man against single King is not generally drawn. (Invented by Benedikt Rosenau in 2010.)

Bahrain checkers (Dama )
Same as Turkish checkers, except for a curious rule: a threatened Man must move if it can. This affects the game very much. It becomes slower, and dramatic combinations occur less often. As usual, capture has preference over movement. So if two Men are threatened, one must choose to move the one that can capture. The King can very effectively hunt down enemy Men, because tempo is gained by threatening a man.

Bahrain checkers example Bahrain checkers example. When Red moves his flank Man, White must move away the threatened Man at the left, whereupon Red can continue with capture along the file. Notice that it is only the leftward Man which is threatened, since its capture leads to a longer capture line.




Piece movement

The object is to capture all your opponent’s Men by jumping over them, or stalemate the opponent so he has no moves. A Man can only step one square. Direction depends on variant, but never rearwards. A Man may also jump over an enemy piece to a vacant square on the other side (“short leap”). Jumping over a piece captures it. Capturing is mandatory, and you must keep jumping and capturing as long as possible. When your Man reaches the other end of the board, it becomes a King and can then move and capture both forwards and backwards. A King jumps to capture. Length of leaps depends on variant.


References

Ratrout, S. ‘A Guide to Checkers Families and Rules’. (Academia.edu, here)

Freeling, C. ‘On the evolution of draughts variants’. (Mindsports.nl, here)

World Draughts Federation: Section Turkish draughts. (here)


See also:

Winther, M. (2015). ‘International/Polish Checkers Variants’. (here)

  --------  (2017). ‘Spanish Checkers Variants’. (here)


A thanks to Sultan Ratrout for valuable guidance.




☛  You can download my free Gothic Checkers Variants program here (updated 2017-05-24), but you must own the software Zillions of Games to be able to run it. (I recommend the download version.)




© Mats Winther (May 2017).



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