What Moves Can a King Make in Checkers?

By Susan MacDowell
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Checkers is a game played on a board that is divided into 64 alternating light and dark squares. Each player has 12 pieces, with one player's pieces being light, and the other player's being dark. Tournament checkers are usually red and white, while home sets usually include red and black pieces. Each player starts with his pieces placed on the dark squares in the three rows closest to him. Pieces can only move forward, until they are kinged, when they can also move backward.

Method of Play

The object of the game of checkers is to capture all of your opponent's pieces by jumping them. Players move one piece on a turn, always moving diagonally to stay on the dark squares. Pieces can move forward one space at a time, except when jumping. A piece can jump, and capture, an opponent's piece, if the piece is occupying a diagonally adjacent square and the adjacent diagonal on the other side of the piece is empty. A piece must make all the jumps available to it on a turn.

How to Become a King

The row closest to each player is the king, or crown, row. When a checker reaches the opponent's crown row, it will be topped with another checker, or crowned, and become a king. The checker used to crown the king will be taken from the pile of checkers the opponent captured by jumping. The opponent places the checker on top to do the crowning and turn the piece into a king.

The King's Moves

While a regular checker can only move forward, a king can move in any direction. It can move one space diagonally forward or backward on each turn. It can also move multiple spaces while jumping, and change directions to continue jumping. Just as with regular pieces, a king must make all the jumps available to it on a turn. Kings can be jumped, and captured, by regular pieces.

Restriction on First Move After Being Kinged

A checker may reach the king row after making multiple jumps in a single turn. While a king is entitled to change direction, when the checker lands on the king row it is still a regular piece, and must stop. That ends the turn. The opponent's turn begins when he crowns the king, and continues when he selects and moves a piece. The new king cannot move until after the opponent has finished his turn.

About the Author

Susan MacDowell is a freelance writer from New England. She is a CPA by training, but has many additional interests, including history, baseball, cooking, and travel. She's a native of New York, who now lives in Massachusetts and Maine.