Rules of Play

According to George "Little George" Ramsey in his book, The Amazing World of American Pool Checkers, and Vladimir Kaplan in his book, Strive To Be Superior at American Checkers, the rules of play for American Pool Checkers are as follows:

   1.    The game Pool Checkers, is played on the dark squares only of a standard checkerboard of 64 alternating dark and light squares, (eight rows, eight columns) by two opponents having 12 checkers each of contrasting colors, nominally referred to as black and white.

   2.    The board is positioned squarely between the players and turned so that a dark squares at each players left side.  Each player places his checkers on the dark squares of the three rows nearest him.  The player with the darker checkers makes the first move of the game, and the players take turns thereafter, making one move at a time.

   3.    The objective of the game is to prevent the opponent from being able to move when it is his turn to do so.  This is accomplished either by capturing all of the opponent’s checkers, or by blocking those that remain so that none of them can be moved.  If neither can accomplish this, the game is a draw. 

   4.    Single checkers, known as men, move forward only, one square at a time in a diagonal direction, to an unoccupied square.   Men capture by jumping over an opposing man on a diagonally adjacent square to the square immediately beyond, but may do so only if this square is unoccupied.  Men may jump forward or backward, and may continue jumping as long as they encounter opposing checkers with unoccupied squares immediately beyond them.  Men may never jump over the checkers of the same color.

   5.    After the Checkers have been arranged, if a player whose turn it is to move touches a man, he must either move that man or forfeit the game.  When a man touched is not playable, the player is cautioned for the first offense and forfeits the game for any repetition.

   6.    Prior to the first move, either player may, on giving satisfactory notice to his opponent, arrange his own or his opponent’s men properly on the squares.  However, after the first move has been made, if any player touches or arranges any checker without giving satisfactory notice, he shall be cautioned for the first offense and shall forfeit the game for any subsequent act of this kind.

   7.   “Time” shall be called at the end of five minutes if a move is not completed, and if the move is still not completed at the end of another minute, than the non-mover shall forfeit the game through improper delay.

   8.   If any part of a playable man is moved over the angle of the square on which it is placed onto another square, the play must be completed in that direction.  If a player’s man touches the board while moving, whatever square the man touches shall be the square on which the man shall remain, unless his opponent permits him to do otherwise.

   9.   A man which reaches the far side of the board becomes a king.  However, if it reaches the far side by means of jump, and is able to jump backward away from the far side over another man or king, it must do so, and does not become a king.  A man reaching the far side by jumping becomes a king only if its jump or series of jumps terminates there.  When a man becomes a king the turn to move passes to the other player, who must crown the new king by placing a checker the same color atop it.  A player is not permitted to make his own move until he crowns his opponent’s king.

  10.   Kings move forward or backward any number of squares on a diagonal line to an unoccupied square.  Kings capture from any distance along a diagonal line by jumping, forward or backward, over an opposing man or king with at least one unoccupied square immediately beyond it.  The capturing king then lands on any one of these unoccupied squares (except as noted in rule 11) and continues jumping, if possible, either on the same line or by making a right angle turn onto another diagonal line.  Kings may never jump over checkers of the same color. 

  11.  Whenever a player is able to make a capture he must do so.  When there is more than one way to jump, a player may choose any way he wishes, not necessarily the one which results in the capture of the greatest number of opposing units.  When a king jumps over an opposing man or king with more than one with more than one unoccupied square immediately beyond it, it must land on a square from which it is possible to continue jumping, if there is such a square.  If there is more than one such square, any may be chosen.  However, once a player chooses a sequence of captures he must make all the captures possible in that sequence.  He may not leave one of more checkers uncaptured that he could capture simply  by continuing to jump.  A “huff” of a checker for failure to jump properly is not permitted as it was in the past.  The incorrect move must be retracted, and a correct move must be made.  If possible, the correct move must be made with the man or king originally moved incorrectly in order to record game correctly.

  12.  When one of the players, whose side appears stronger than the other, insists on  trying to win, he can be required by his opponent or referee to make changes within the aliment of his pieces or his opponent’s pieces within 40 moves.  In case the aliment changes, for example, a simple piece becomes a king or number of pieces is reduced the reading of 40 moves begins again.  If during these 40 moves, play becomes repetitious, (the same position is encountered 3 times) the game is considered a draw.

  13.  When one player has three kings and the other player has one king (and no other pieces), the player with the superior force must win before the player with the  lone king can count to 13.  In connection with this it must be realized that each jump counts as a move (except for a sliding jump which counts as one move).

  14.  Checkers is a Gentlemen's game. Be courteous. Play by the rules, and ask your opponent to do the same-in a kind way.