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DRAUGHTS (from AS. dragan, to draw)

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Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 548 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DRAUGHTS (from AS. dragan, to draw), a game played with pieces (or " men ") called draughtsmen on a board marked in squares of two alternate colours. The game is called Checkers in America, and is known to the French as Les Dames and to the Germans as Damenspiel. Though the game is not mentioned in the Complete Gamester, nor the Academie de jeux, and is styled a " modern invention " by Strutt, yet a somewhat similar game was known to the Egyptians, some of the pieces used having been found in tombs at least as old as 1600 B.C., and part of Anect Hat-Shepsa's board and some of her men are to be seen in the Egyptian gallery of the British Museum. An Egyptian vase also shows a lion and an antelope playing at draughts, with five men each, the lion making the winning move and seizing the bag or purse that contains the stakes. Plato ascribes the invention of the game of irec ol, or draughts, to Thoth, the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus, and Homer represents Penelope's suitors as playing it (Odyss. i. 107). In one form of the game as played by the Greeks there were 25 squares, and each player had 5 men which were probably moved along the lines. In another there were 4 men and 16 squares with a "sacred enclosure," a square of the same size as the others, marked in the exact centre and bisected by one of the horizontal lines, which was known as the " sacred line." From the incident in the game of a piece hemmed in on this line by a rival piece having to be pushed forward as a last resort, arose the phrase " to move the man from the sacred line " as synonymous with being hard pressed. This and other phrases based on incidents in the game testify to the vogue the game enjoyed in ancient Greece. The Roman game of Latrunculi was similar, but there were officers (kings in modern draughts) as well as men. When a player's pieces were all hemmed in he was stale-mated, to DRAUGHTS 547 use a chess phrase (ad incitas redactus est), and lost the game. Other explanations of this phrase are, however, given (see Les Jeux des anciens, by Becq de Fouquieres). The fullest account of the Roman game is to be found in the De laude Pisonis, written by an anonymous contemporary of Nero (see CALPURNIUS, Taus). Unfortunately the texts are full of obscurities, so that it is difficult to make any definite statements as to how the game was played. As early as the firth century some form of the game was practised by the Norsemen, for in the Icelandic saga of Grettir the Strong the board and men are mentioned more than once. The history of the modern forms of the game starts with El Ingenio o juego de marro, de punto o damas, published by Torquemada at Valencia in 1547. Another Spaniard, Juan Garcia Canalejas, is said to have published in 1610 the first edition of his work, a better-known edition of which appeared in 1650. The third Spanish classic, that of Joseph Carlos Garcez, was printed in Madrid in 1684. It is noteworthy that in an illustration inGarcez's book the pieces depicted resemble some-what some of those used by the Egyptians, and are not unlike the pawns used in chess. In 1668 Pierre Mallet had published the first French work on the game, and elementary though his knowledge of the game seems to have been, even in comparison with that of Canalejas or Garcez, the historical notes, rules and instructions which he gave, served as a basis for many later works. Mallet wrote on Le Jeu de dames d la fran(ai.se, which was almost identical with the modern English game. The old French game is, however, no longer practised in France, having been superseded by Le Jeu de dames a la polonaise. Manoury gives reasons for believing that the latter game originated in Paris about 1727. About 1736 a famous player named Laclef published the first book on Polish draughts, but the first important book on the game is Manoury's Jeu de dames a la polonaise, in the production of which it is said that the author had the assistance of Diderot and other encyclopedistes. This book, which appeared in 1787, was to the new game all that Mallet's was to the old French game, and until the appearance of Poirson Prugneaux's Encyclopedie du jeu de dames in 1855 it remained the standard authority on so-called Polish draughts. The Polish game early attained popularity in Holland, and in 1785 the standard Dutch work, Ephraim van Embden's Verhandeling over het Damspel, was produced. In German-speaking countries the progress of the new game was slower, and the works produced in the first half of the 19th century generally treat of the older game as well as the Polish game. This is also the case with Petroff's book published in St Petersburg in 1827; and similarly Zongono's, which dates from 1832, deals with the new game and with the older Italian game. In 1694 Hyde wrote Historia dami ludi seu latrinculorum, in which he tried to prove the identity of draughts with ludus latrinculorum. This work is historical and descriptive, but contains nothing concerning the game as played in Great Britain. The authentic history of draughts in England commences with William Payne's Introduction to the Game of Draughts, the dedication of which was written by Samuel Johnson. Payne's games and problems were incorporated in a much more important work, namely Sturges's Guide to the Game of Draughts, which appeared in 1800 and has gone through a score of editions. About this time the game was much practised in both England and Scotland, but the first important production of the Scottish school was Drummond's Scottish Draught Player, the first part of which dates from 1838, additional volumes appearing in 1851–1853 and 1861. In 1852 Andrew Anderson published his Game of Draughts Simplified. A first edition had appeared in 1848, but the later print is the important one, as it standardized the laws of the game, fixed the nomenclature of the openings, introduced a better arrangement of the play, and, since Anderson was one of the finest players of the game, excelled in accuracy. In Anderson's time little was known about the openings commencing with any move other than 11-15, and it was not until more than thirty years later that the other openings received more adequate recognition. This was done in Robertson's Guide to the Game of Draughts, and perhaps better in Lees' Guide (1892). Andrew Anderson was the first recognized British champion player of the game. He and Wyllie, better known as " the herd laddie," contested five matches for the honour, Anderson winning four to Wyllie's one. After his victory in 1847 Anderson retired from match play and the title fell to Wyllie, who made the game his profession and travelled all over the English-speaking world to play it. In 1872 he successfully defended his position against Martins, the English champion, and in 1874 against W. R. Barker, the American champion, but two years later he was beaten by Yates, a young American. On the latter's retirement from the game, the championship lapsed to Wyllie, who held it successfully until his defeat by Ferrie, the Scottish champion, in 1894. Two years later Ferrie was beaten in his turn by Richard Jordan of Edinburgh, who had just gained the Scottish championship; and the new holder defeated Stewart, who challenged him in 1897, and successfully defended his title against C. F. Barker, the American champion, to meet whom he visited Boston in 1900 and played a drawn match. In 1884 the first international match between England and Scotland took place, and resulted in so decisive a victory for the northerners that the contest was not renewed for ten years. The matches played in 1894 and 1899 also went strongly in favour of the Scots, but in 1903 the Englishmen gained their first victory. In 1905 a British team visited America and defeated a side representing the United States. The tournament for the Scottish championship has been held annually in Glasgow since 1893. The number and skill of the Scottish players have given this tournament its pre-eminence; but if the levelling up of the standards of play in Scotland and England continues, the competition which is held biennially by the English Draughts Association is likely to rank as a serious rival to the Glasgow tourney. The English Game.—Draughts as played now in English-speaking countries is a game for two persons with a board and twenty-four men—twelve white and twelve black—which at starting are placed as follows: the black men on the squares numbered 1 to 12, and the white men on the squares numbered 21 to 32 on the diagram below. In printed diagrams the men are usually shown on the white squares for the sake of clearness,
End of Article: DRAUGHTS (from AS. dragan, to draw)
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