Checkers Terms: Alquerque to Fierges to Draughts

Checkers has been known by other terms or names in history. It would be fascinating to trace its development through the different stages of changes it underwent through the years of checkers history.

Ancient Alquerque was among the earliest forms of checkers known in history. It was also known by the term "Quirkat." Alquerque paraphernalia (10 checker chips per player, light and dark in color, plus a 5 by 5 board) have been dug from ancient sites dating back as early as about 600 BCE. In fact, the ancient game, believed to be among the predecessors of checkers, was among the art themes carved or painted on old temple walls as early as 1400 BCE.

Early records show that Alquerque had been a game favored by most people who lived in the Middle East and along the Mediterranean Sea. It has traces left in ancient Egypt, too, where the game was said to have been popular. Alquerque's main game goal is also to capture all enemy checker pieces. But one day, modern checkers was finally derived from Alquerque when the ancient game was adapted to the chess board.

Checkers history has it that a Frenchman found the idea possible in the 12th century. Instead of the intersecting lines used in Alquerque, now the Alquerque checker pieces were placed on the black squares of chess boards and moved on the same black squares diagonally. Alquerque rules were retained but now the checker pieces found themselves bounded by the 8 by 8 squares of chess boards and was called Fierges.

Fierges checker pieces were called "ferses." By the way, "ferses" is also the name by which the queen in chess is called. This was because back then the chess queen moved one square per turn. Soon, Fierges gradually became known also as Ferses. However, in the 15th century its name evolved into the Jeu De Dames. Most people later called it merely "Dames."

The following century, Dames became widespread in France. The rules became more stringent and official. In fact, it was in 1535 that the popular forced capture ruling became its integral part. Thus, the term "Jeu Force." This type of checkers found its way to England, and there was called Draughts.

Today, most English-speaking countries in Europe call it draughts and in others American checkers. Checkers history is a series of changes and development that gradually altered the name and form of the game.