Records on Checkers Origin

Checkers is somewhat a mysterious game because of some speculative records on its origin. But there are historical records on checkers that somehow establish the origins of the game. Here are some accounts to this effect.

Most historical records say that checkers first appeared in ancient Egypt, although some records contest this and say it started in Mesopotamia. Some checker pieces (or what looked like them) were discovered in Egyptian tombs dating as far back as the 1600 B.C. A recovered relic vase in the British Museum even depicts a lion and an antelope at the game, complete with pieces, boards, and stakes.

The great Greek philosopher Plato made mention of checkers as a brainchild of Egyptian Thoth, while Homer mentioned in Odyssey about Penelopes suitors enjoying sessions of the game. The Greeks once played with checkers boards with 25 squares but only 5 checker pieces for each player while another version of the game had boards with 16 squares and 4 checkers for each player. In those times the longest horizontal line dividing the board into two equal parts was called the "sacred line."

These historical records on checkers show that the game may have evolved from a very simple and crude board game and later improved as new rules, alternatives, and influences were introduced. From Egypt it found its way to Greece where it was thoroughly enjoyed as a logic board game and where more influences were introduced to it, especially the use of the term "sacred line." It was a line mostly used for refuge.

Then checkers came to Rome, first called "Latrunculi," wherein kings or crowned checkers were first introduced. In Rome something similar to a chess "stalemate" was observed. It was when the checker pieces of a player cannot move any place else on the board without being threatened for captured, while not being threatened by any capture at the moment. However, while a stalemate resulted in a tie in chess, it resulted in defeat for a stalemated checkers player.

The Roman version of checkers was "notated" in the collection of writings know as De Laude Pisonis which was authored by an unknown writer during the time of the dreaded Emperor Nero. But the writings are not accurate in rules, strategies, and procedures. But what it says clearly is that the Romans did enjoy their own version of checkers.

Most historical records on checkers agree that the game originated in Egypt, developed by the Greeks and introduced into the modern world by the Romans.