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How to play Italian Draughts?

Italian Draughts, also known as “Dama” or “Italian checkers,” is a variation of checkers or draughts played mostly in Italy and other parts of Europe. While the game has much in common with International Draughts and American Checkers, there are some key differences.

Game Setup

The Italian checkers board is an 8 by 8 grid with 64 squares, each square with alternating light and dark colors. Each player starts the game with 12 pieces, which are placed on the dark squares of the first three rows. The pieces are the familiar ones: flat disks, often with ridged edges and are generally black and red or black and white. Pieces are placed and moved along the dark squares. Unlike most other checkers variants, the board is oriented so that the bottom right corners from both players' perspectives are dark squares.


The game of Italian Draughts is won when all of your opponents' pieces are either captured or blocked. A game can also end in a draw if both players agree or automatically if a position repeats three times with the same player having the turn each time.

Game Play

In Italian Draughts, pieces move diagonally on the board, but they can only move forward. The pieces can capture an opponent's piece by jumping over it and landing on an empty square on the other side. Multiple captures are allowed in one turn if the opportunity presents itself.


Men cannot capture backwards

Just like in American Checkers, in Italian Draughts men cannot capture backwards. All capture moves by men must bring them closer to the enemy's home row.

Mandatory Capture

Italian Draughts has a "mandatory capture" rule. If a player has a capturing move, they must make it. If there are multiple capturing moves available, they must pick the move that captures the most pieces. If multiple moves would capture the same number of pieces, they must make the capture with a king if possible. If there are still multiple possible moves, then the move that captures the most kings must be chosen. If this still leaves ambiguity then the capture sequence which captures a king earlier must be chosen e.g., a capture sequence which captures a king then a man must be chosen over a sequence which captures a man then a king. Beyond this any capturing sequence can be chosen. This rule adds an extra level of strategy to the game and makes forced captures more restrictive than in International Draughts.


In Italian Draughts, a piece can be crowned a king when it reaches the last row on the opponent's side of the board. Kings can move diagonally in any direction and can make multiple captures in one turn. If a king is captured, it is removed from the board, and the capturing player keeps the piece. Kings cannot be captured by men.

Differences from International Draughts and American Checkers

Capturing Kings

Only Kings can capture Kings in Italian Draughts which makes them significantly more valuable than in American Checkers.

Board Orientation

Italian Draughts is one of the only draughts variants that puts the dark square on the bottom right corner. This makes the game look vertically mirrored compared to most other variants.

Mandatory Capture Restrictions

Italian Draughts has some of the most strict rules regarding mandatory captures. American checkers has no rule limiting which capture sequence must be chosen and International Draughts only mandates choosing the sequence which captures the most pieces. In Italian Draughts, there are several additional rules to act as tie-breakers when multiple captures are available.

Italian checkers is a challenging and exciting game that requires strategic thinking and planning. With its unique rules, such as the mandatory capture rule, and the ability to crown pieces as kings, it sets itself apart from international and American draughts. Whether you are an experienced player or new to the game, Italian checkers offers hours of entertainment and a chance to hone your skills.