Draughts. Draughts is a game with a checkered board and men, of much less antiquity than chess, and is perhaps to be considered a degenerate descendant of that noble sport. In France, it is called les dames, from having been a favourite game with ladies; and in Scotland this signification is preserved in the term dam-brod, the name universally applied by the common people to the draught-board.
Draughts is played on a chess-board, or a board checkered precisely in the same manner, with thirty-two white, and thirty-two black squares. The board, however, is placed before the players differently in chess there must be a white square in the right-hand corner, but in draughts the right-hand comer must be black - that is, supposing you to play on the white squares. The following is a representation of a draught-board, numbered for the sake of illustration, and placed as it should be in playing.
The game is played by two persons, who sit opposite to each other. Each party has a set of twelve men, the colour of the two being different, for the sake of distinction. The men are generally round and flat pieces of wood ; one set white, and another black ; those of the neatest kind are turned out of boxwood and ebony.
The men may be placed either on the white or black squares, but the whole must be put on one colour only. It is customary in England to place all upon the white, and to have, as above, a black square on the right. In Scotland the black are played upon, when there is consequently a white square to the right. We go upon the supposition that the play is on the white squares, and have numbered them in the above figure accordingly.
The movements in draughts are very simple : a man can move only one square at a time, and diagonally, never straightforward or side wise. If an enemy's man stand in the way, no move can take place, unless there be a vacant square beyond into which the piece can be lifted. In this case, the man leaped over is taken; he is removed from the board.
The grand object of the game, then, is to clear the board of the enemy's men, or to hem them in so that they cannot move; and whichever party docs so first gains the victory. As no piece can move more than one step diagonally at a time, there can be no taking till the two antagonists come to close quarters; and the pushing them cautiously into each other's neighbourhood is the principal art in the game.
When the men on either side have cleared their way by taking, or found an open path to the opposite side of the board, they become invested with a new power of movement: by reaching the first row of squares on the opposite side, the piece is entitled to be crowned, which is done by placing a man on the top of it. Thus crowned, the man may move backward, but always diagonally, and one square at a time, as before. This power of moving, and taking either forward or backward, renders it of consequence to get men crowned; and if two or three on each side gain this honour, the game becomes more interesting, and may speedily be determined.
Immediately after crowning, great art is shewn in blocking up one or more of your adversary's men, by the aid of which to accomplish a series of decisive moves. For instance, supposing you have detained your adversary's piece at 4, while he has others situated on 25 and 26 - and supposing you have pieces on 12 and 19, with a crowned man at 14, you may, by giving him your 12 and 19, exchange two pieces for three, which is commonly equivalent to winning the game. Again, supposing you have pieces on 13, 22. 30, and a crowned one on 26, and your adversary a piece on 5 with others scattered in the direction of 16, 8, 7, you may, by successively pushing before him your pieces on 13 and 22, gain a formidable exchange.
In beginning to play, much depends on having the first move; and the rule is, that in playing several games each party takes the first move alternately.
If a player touch one of his men, he must play it. If a player omit to take a man when it is in his power to do so, his adversary can huff or blow him - that is, either take the man, or insist upon his own man being taken. The practice is at once to lift the man which ought to have taken yours.
We present the following as an example of playing a game, in which white loses.
The letters N, C, F, T, at the head of the columns, signify Number, Colour, From, To
It is not considered fair for any bystander to advise what motions should be taken, or for a player to wait longer than five minutes between each move. The draught-player, therefore, must on all occasions act with much more promptitude and decision than in the case of chess. In short, draughts is a very ticklish game. A single false step may lead to irretrievable ruin ; and it is only after long experience in figuring in the mind what would be the result of particular movements that proficiency is attained.