Checkers & Draughts Wiki

Deutsches Damespiel, often shortened to Dame and known outside of Germany as German Checkers or German Draughts, is the most common checkers variant played in Germany.

The first book covering German Draughts was the 155-page folio volume "Die unterschiedlichen Spiel- und Vorstellungen des weltberühmten Damspiels", which was published around 1700 in Nuremberg by Johann Wolfgang Schmidt. In 1744, an anonymous author who called himself "Liebhaber sinnreicher Spiele" (lover of meaningful games) wrote the book "Das erklärte Damen-Spiel, oder erster Versuch einer kunstmäßigen und ausführlichen Anweisung zu solchem Spiele, um dasselbe niemals zu verlieren". In 1800, the mathematician A. F. Thölden published in Leipzig "Die Kunst im Damenspiele Meister zu werden, durch 50 auserlesene Beispiele erläutert". The first comprehensive textbook was authored in 1811 by F. W. Koch in Magdeburg, which had the simple title "Das Damenspiel". Ein similar textbook was published in 1821 by Ferdinand Zimmermann, which was named "Vollständige Codex der Damenbrettspielkunst". In the following decades some smaller works were written by F. L. Montag until, in 1886, an excellent textbook was compiled by Heinz Credner in Leipzig. It is called "Das Damespiel nach älterer und neuerer Spielweise" and is still widely available in German antiquarian bookshops. Only two years later, in 1888, Jean Dufresne, e well-known chess master in Berlin and the best German draughts player of his time, wrote the textbook "Der Freund des Damespiels". In the 20th century several treatises on German Checkers followed such as "Damespiel: Eine leichtverständliche Einführung" by Thea Frank (Hildesheim, 1951), "Dame: Das Brettspiel mit allen Variationen" by Claus D. Grupp (Leinfelden, 1979) and "Dame: Duell mit flachen Steinen" by Reiner F. Müller (Düsseldorf, 1988).

In the early 1930s, there even existed a "Deutscher Dame-Bund" (German Checkers Association) in Stralsund, which published a magazine called "Das Damespiel: Monatsschrift zur Förderung des Damespiels". A few issues still survive in libraries in Berlin, Greifswald and Leipzig.

This incomplete listing of the German Draughts literature shows that checkers has been appreciated in Germany for centuries.



Page 113 of Credner's book "Das Damespiel nach älterer und neuerer Spielweise"

The board is an 8×8 grid, with alternating dark and light squares. The left down square field should be dark.

Each player starts with 12 pieces on the three rows closest to their own side, as shown in the diagram above. In Germany the pieces are called Steine (i.e. "stones").

The white (lighter color) side moves first. Players then alternate moves.

Note: Some web sites (including Checkers Chest and, until recently, the English Wikipedia) erroneously claim that Black starts.

The men move diagonally forward to the next square, when nothing can be captured.

When a man reaches the furthest row from the player who controls that piece, it is crowned and becomes a Dame (literally: "lady"). One of the pieces which had been captured is placed on top of it so that it is twice as high as a single piece.

Crowned pieces can move freely multiple steps in any diagonal direction exactly like a Bishop in chess.

Men capture opponents pieces that are diagonally in front and adjacent of them by moving two consecutive steps in the same direction, jumping over the opponent's piece on the first step. Multiple opposing pieces may be captured in a single turn provided this is done by successive jumps made by a single piece. These jumps do not need to be in the same direction but may zigzag changing diagonal direction. A 180° turn, however, is not permitted.

Crowned pieces may jump over and hence capture an opponent piece some distance away and choose where to stop afterwards.

The pieces are not removed during the jump, only after the whole move.

Captures are mandatory. Any sequence may be chosen, as long as all possible captures are made.

A player wins the game when the opponent cannot make a move. In most cases, this is because all of the opponent's pieces have been captured, but it could also be because all of his pieces are blocked in.

The chess notation is used to record games.

See also[]