Reducing Wasted Space in Checkers

Checkers is an abstract strategy board game with rules simple enough to be enjoyed by all ages and deep enough to keep people busy for some time. It's fun.

Checkers is played on a chessboard, an eight-by-eight black-and-white tiled square. Though chess makes great use of all 64 of these squares, checkers resides solely on the 32 black squares. The white squares are not even passed over, as the diagonal movement of checkers avoids all but the corners of white squares. This is wonderful for those who have a healthy appreciation for both games, a checkers devotee might see this as a waste of space. Though I am no such devotee, I sought to design a new board for checkers, one that not only reduces the dead space on the board but that also attempts to be a board designed for, rather than just used for, checkers.


Look at all the wasted space!

I started from the standard checkers setup. The white spaces need to go, but it's difficult to remove what is essentially white (negative) space. A solution I found natural was to expand the used spaces into the unused ones. Each black square grew larger and was rotated by 45 degrees to fill the white space, as illustrated below


First steps

This left several corners poking off of the edges of the chessboard, but because less space overall is wasted, the entire board can be shrunk without becoming too cluttered. The result is depicted below.



The unused area on this board amounts to only eight and a half squares, all of which are cut up and dispersed out of the way of the playing field. In taking away all the space which isn't checkers, several aspects of checkers become more obvious. The first thing that stood out to me were the pieces in the lower left and upper right: these two positions do not have the same movement options as every other space on the board. Though this is probably obvious to anyone with a decent amount of experience playing the game, this was the very first thing I observed and may be helpful to those who are either not experienced or not mindful.

I found the compactness striking. Because the squares grew closer to one another, it was convenient to keep the board, er, checkered. Due to the same compactness movement becomes more straightforward. Movement across corners becomes a more simple motion to an adjacent square. The simpler motion and the checkered playing field give a subtle visual cue to possible motions: any piece on a square of one color can move to (or jump over) any neighboring square of the other color.


A slightly more compact version made by trimming the edges

In cutting down the traditional board for checkers, we reveal a tidy, minimalist board that not only takes out everything that isn't checkers, but gives us something that more intuitively exposes the structure of the game, something that better shows what checkers is.