Is Chess And Checkers The Same? We Tell The Difference

Chess Guides / By Andrew Hercules

Chess is NOT the same as checkers. The main difference between the two games is that the goal of checkers is to capture all of your opponent’s pieces off the board whereas the objective of chess is to deliver checkmate to your opponent’s king (checkmate: player’s king is under threat of being captured and no other moves can remove the threat).

 The only real similarity between the two is that both games are played on a 8×8 grid with 64 alternating colored squares. Also, some pieces get promoted if they get to the eighth rank of the checkered board. For example in checkers, you can promote one of your pieces to a king whereas in chess, you can promote your pawn into a queen or even a knight, rook or bishop.

In this article, we shall discover how each of these games are played so you can get a better idea of their differences.

What Is Chess?

 Chess is a board game of the mind that can be dated back as far as in the 6th century in India’s “Gupta Empire”. The most basic rule is that chess is played between two people. Each side is given 16 brave soldiers (pieces) of 6 different types. The objective of the game is to trap the opponent’s king so that he has no legal moves to escape the final blow.

Just like in checkers, a chess game doesn’t necessarily has to end in a win (checkmate). A game may end in a draw or stalemate if no progress is being made either by a three move repetition or 50 moves without a capture or pawn move. Players may also see their defeat coming and believe they will lose the game. Therefore, they voluntarily resign. These are some of the ways in which a chess game can end.

How Chess Is Played?

At every turn players make their move. A player is required to move one piece on each move. If the piece you move lands on a square occupied by the opponent’s piece, this means you have captured their piece. It is then permanently removed from the board. Once you can make a move that leads to the capture of your opponent’s king, you win the game!

Knowing the Chess Pieces and their abilities


The king is the most important piece on the chessboard since the death of the king means the end of the game. The King can only move one square at a time in any direction(forward, backward, sideways or diagonally)

Because the king is so precious, players often hide the king in the corner of the board for almost the whole game so as to safeguard it from attacks of the enemy. They do this through means of a special move called ‘castling’. This is a single move performed with both a rook and a king. The King makes two moves to the right and the rook then jumps over it. You can learn more about castling here


The queen which his worth 9 points is the most powerful piece on the board. Why? Unlike the King, the queen can move as far up the board as she like in any direction in a straight line. The queen isn’t involved too much in the first phase of the game just like the King. The main reason is that she is more at risked in getting captured in the opening phase and the loss of such precious piece often calls for resignation.


Second to the Queen is the Rook which is worth 5 points. There are two Rooks given to both sides. The Rooks can only move vertically and horizontally as far as they’d like in a straight line. They cannot move diagonally unlike the King and the Queen. The rooks are ideally placed on open files on the chessboard where no pieces can hinder their movement. The rooks are most likely activated after the opening.


The bishops are worth 3 points, but they can be extremely powerful in pairs. They move diagonally any number of squares. Bishops can move swiftly from one end of the board to the other when given an open-free diagonal.


Knights are very tricky pieces and should be respected by all players. They have the ability to jump over other pieces. It moves two squares in one direction, and then one more box at a right angle. The result is an L-shape. Like the Bishops, the knights are worth 3 points.


Pawns are worth the least of all the pieces, but they are regarded as the soul of chess. There are 8 pawns in total and they all start on the second rank of the chess board. They usually move one square forward, but can move two squares on their first move. Pawns can only capture pieces diagonally in front of them.

Now that we know the basic of the chess game and the pieces abilities, let’s see how the game of checker compare.

What Is Checkers?

Checkers game requires strategy just like chess and is universally played. Checkers also known as draughts, is a two-player board game that have been around for many years dating back as far as 3000 B.C. In the United Kingdom this board game involves diagonal moves of game pieces on an 8×8 grid totaling 64 squares. It is also known as straight checkers or American checkers. The aim of checkers is to be the player with the most game pieces remaining on the board, in other words you should aim to wipe out your opponent’s pieces.

How Checkers Is Played – The Rules

  • Each players alternate turns and can only move their own pieces
  • The dark squares are the only ones that may be occupied on the board. The light squares must remain empty.
  • The chess pieces are played only on the dark squares for the entire match. No piece should occupy the light squares.
  • Each turn involves the moving of one piece, which can consist of a piece moving forward to a diagonally adjacent square that is unoccupied, or jumping forward over an occupied diagonally adjacent square, provided that the square beyond is also empty.
  • Pieces are moved one square forward diagonally to an adjacent square that is unoccupied.
  • They can capture the opponent’s piece by jumping forward over an occupied diagonally adjacent square, given that the square beyond is empty. Once the capture is successful, the piece is eliminated from the game.
  • Each piece is initially referred to as a man, but if it reaches the furthest side of the board it becomes a king. When this happens, the player stacks an additional piece on top of the original to signify the change.
  • The crowned King can move backward and forward diagonally unlike the men who can only move forward.
  • Multiple pieces maybe jumped by both men and kings provided that there are successive unoccupied squares beyond each piece that is jumped.

10 Differences Between Chess and Checkers

Chess Checkers
Each player is assigned 16 pieces at the start of the game. The are 6 different types of pieces in total(King, Queen, Bishops, Knights, Rooks. Each player gets only 12 pieces of the same type.
In chess, you can promote your pawn to either a Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight once it reaches the 8th rank of the board. You are only promoted to a king in checkers
The objective of the game is to trap the enemy King and deliver the final blow The objective of the game is to be the last player with the most game pieces remaining on the board
There is a full royal family No royal family present until one of your pieces is crowned a king
Chess requires more brain power as there are more combinations over the board than checkers. There is a fact that states the number of possible moves in chess is greater than the atoms there are in the observable universe. Checkers is a tricky game to play, but it’s complexities are far way less than chess. Because the pieces only move one square forward diagonally, mathematicians have come up with an exact number of the number possible games of checkers.
Each game piece has their own movement All game piece has the same movement
Pieces are captured if the piece you move lands on a square occupied by the opponent’s piece. Pieces are captured by jumping over your opponent’s pieces diagonally and landing on an empty square
White moves first Black moves first
Both the light and dark squares can be played on. The dark squares are only occupied through the entire game of checkers
There are no penalties given for not capturing a piece. In some countries, if you don’t jump your opponent, it means you’ve missed your jump and that piece is removed from the game.

Similarities Between Chess and Checkers

  1. Calculation and strategy is necessary to outplay your opponent.
  2. The game is played on a 8×8 grid with 64 alternating colored squares.
  3. The concept of promotion is present among both chess and checkers.
  4. They both date back centuries ago.
  5. Each player takes turn to make their move

Final Verdict

Checkers is a fun and exciting game to play and far easier to master than chess. Chess on the other hand requires more in depth learning of the strategies and tactics required to achieve victory especially against a well experienced player. Nevertheless, Chess and checkers are both great strategy games and I encourage anyone who is interested to take the time to learn and play them for yourself. It can be a great way to relief some stress and have a little bit of fun once in while.

Andrew Hercules

Hercules Chess, launched in 2020, is a website that teaches you about chess. We started as a chess blog and became a chess training platform in early 2022.

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