Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Draughts, huffing and Happy Birthday to Us

According to my calculations, this blog is now a year old. To celebrate, I'm going to contribute something that appears to have some details missing from the sum total of the interweb. I'm going to talk about draughts.

Draughts (checkers, in some places) is, you might say, an old ladies' game. You'd be quite right, and if you've never played draughts against an old lady you've probably never been so comprehensively beaten at something in your entire life. One of the basic principles of draughts is than when an opposing piece has a space behind it, you can jump your piece over it, thereby removing if from the board. Old ladies can join five or six of these jumps together to deprive you of half your pieces in one foul swoop. You really do have to jump and remove pieces to get somewhere a game of draughts, but there's a variant on this that appears to be unique to Irish grandmothers, or at least my Irish grandmother (or possibly the Irish in general, it's that kind of a thing), and that I can't find any mention of anywhere else. It's called huffing. Huffing changes draughts from the mindless and inevitable plonking of pieces to a winner-takes-all game of bluff and daring.

It works like this: if you have a chance to jump any one of your opponent's pieces and you don't take that chance, the piece you would have jumped with is taken off the board -- provided your opponent notices and huffs you. You can't huff someone for not jumping if they've jumped somewhere else at the same time, but otherwise it's open slather. "But you would have...(done blah blah etc etc)" is not a valid excuse.

See? Daring, treachery, bluff and double-bluff. Try it with your grandmother sometime. Just don't be surprised if she beats you.

Now just in case Google doesn't notice this the first time around: Draughts rules huffing jumping checkers Irish grandmothers.

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