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Checkers, The Everlasting Game

Having always known about checkers you may sometime wonder about the beginning of this simple plan that set up the game.

In our world as children, the ‘an­cients’ in our lives were a granddaddy and grandmother who lived in the solitude of the mountains at a place called Hickory Tree. They often took one of us home with them for a week, to a place where there was no distractions, no phone, or other outside influences.

Once there, they had to find ways to entertain the young. So, each day, after Granddad finished gardening, you would see him walking up the path in his bib overalls, dabbing at his brow with an old railroad handkerchief, tired from tending the tomatoes, corn, green beans, and carrots, and digging potato hills. He’d go to the water bucket and get a big drink from the dipper, then turn and say, “Do you think you can beat me at a game of checkers, little one?”

In the midst of a checkers game, which you were only allowed to win fair and square, he might do one of his magic tricks, like reaching over and pulling a penny from be-hind your ear. The magic tricks and the checkers were things he could do to entertain without exerting too much energy.

We took checkers for granted and many years later, I had the urge to re­search the game. It was interesting to discover that a board game, much like the game of checkers, called Alquerque dated back to 6000 B.C. These boards were even found carved into stone slabs that form the roof of the temple of Kurna in Egypt. Then there was the game board found in the ancient ruins of the city of ‘Ur’ in Iraq, dating back to 3000 B.C.

The earliest game of checkers, as we know it, came from Egypt in 1400 B.C. Having learned early the competition with animals and other people for survival, human beings have always indulged in games. Games predate written history.

According to one source, the first known games were Hide and Seek, Tag, and King Of The Castle played by children of the caves. From there they graduated to who could throw a spear the straightest or who could throw a rock the longest distance.

Electronic games that involve television or computers have replaced most of the simple board games we played as children. One good thing about checkers is that no one can pull the plug on that game. Over the years, it’s amazing how much you could learn from playing checkers with your elders. As always, it isn’t whether you win or lose but how you play the game.

Kitty Maiden is a staff writer for Seniors Today.