My kids are really into playing checkers since winter break. I have played a lot of games with my son and daughter in the past week or so. To get a better handle on the rules and strategies, I also played some games alone on my iPhone (there is an Apple Arcade Checkers game).

Checkers is a game that, until last week, I had not played more than once or twice since I was five. I’m pretty sure I read the rules the first time about a week ago on my son’s checkers set. I never knew that you are forced to capture the opponent’s piece (or pieces) if the opportunity to capture them arises. I don’t think my father or grandfather knew that. I mostly remember card games becoming far more interesting to me soon after I learned how to play (or, actually, not how to play) checkers.

I have realized that the game is deeply flawed. Many games reach an endgame state with a few pieces left (mostly kings) and a wide open board. At that point, unless your opponent makes a mistake, it is impossible to win. Of course, kids and inexperienced players make mistakes, which makes the game more fun. I am teaching my son and daughter checkers strategy when I play with them, and intentionally making mistakes and showing them how the opportunities to jump multiple pieces occur.

I have starting hinting at my kids to play together, too, because they would be on more or less equal footing with each other. The idea hasn’t sunk in yet. Of course I will still play with them, but they have more time available to play.