Checkers

Inducted 2003

Simple rules. Straightforward play. Sociability. These hallmarks have kept checkers popular even in an age of complex video games and colorful board games. Checkers, or draughts as people elsewhere know it, dates back several centuries. By the 1600s, people purchased the first checkers’ strategy book. Throughout its history, checkers’ simple equipment has included pieces made of colored stones, dyed slices of corncob, or painted wood. Boards could be scratched on the ground, carved in wood, or printed on cardboard. Machine-made wooden pieces replaced hand-carved ones in the 19th century, and plastic sets dominated in the following century. Pressman Toys, perhaps the leading manufacturer of checker sets, estimates it has sold more than 25 million since its founding in 1922. Today, players can compete against computer programs, clown around with jumbo sets, or take small, magnetic travel sets on road trips. Checkers endures because it captures the essence of play: a chance for people to step away from their normal lives and the demands of the workday world to a space that rewards calculation and strategy on the board and wit and humor off it.