Are Chess and Checker Boards the Same?

Many people who’ve tried both games believe that chess is more complicated, but you probably can’t tell that this is the case just by looking at the grid itself. So, are chess and checker boards the same?

Yes, chess and checkerboards have the same pattern and grid size. However, there are a few differences in how we use the board for each game, including the setup and the common notation systems.

Do these differences matter? Can you still use the two boards interchangeably in a pinch?

That’s what we’ll cover in this article. Plus, we’ll take a look at other interesting games you can play on the same checkered grid, so stick around!

Checkers and Chess: Similar Grids

Both chess and checkers are played on an 8×8 grid of alternating dark and light squares. This creates a total of 64 squares on the board, with the count split evenly between the two colors.

But the square count and pattern aren’t the only similarities here. The dimensions are more or less the same.

Of course, the board sizes can change from one set to the other, and tournament regulations could also play a role. However, each square is usually around 2 inches.

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You can expect the squares on a United States Chess Federation (USCF) board to measure 2–2.5 inches.

That’s not too far off from the World Checkers Draughts Federation (WCDF) board, which has squares ranging between 1.8–1.9 inches (4.5 to 5 centimeters, to be exact).

Checkers vs. Chess: 3 Differences in the Board

Now that we’ve covered the similarities, we can check out what sets each board apart.

Some of the differences are subtle and shouldn’t disrupt the game all that much, like the colors. That said, other aspects can be vital, like the notation differences.

Common Color Schemes

While both checker and chess boards follow a pattern of alternating dark and light squares, the colors aren’t always the same.

Your typical chess set is wooden (with two shades of tan), outright black and white, or a mix of two contrasting colors (like buff white and green).

Checkerboards can be any of those options, but they are often red and black.

Fun fact: While the red and black board is quite popular among checker players, it isn’t the one that the WCDF recognizes. Instead, the regulations call for green and white color schemes in all major events!

Occupied Squares

Just because both boards have similar square counts doesn’t mean the arrangement is going to be the same.

Chess has more pieces per player (16) than checkers (only 12), but it also uses both colors on the board for the gameplay.

At the beginning of a chess game, each set takes up two full rows. This leaves the board with the middle four rows (32 squares) open for play.

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On the other hand, checkers players can only place pieces on the dark squares, which leaves half the board unusable.

If you can picture only the black squares numbered on the grid, you’ll see that spots 1–12 and 21–32 are all occupied by pieces at the starting position, leaving only two empty rows in the middle of the board.

Notation and Indices

Did you notice how we numbered the squares on a checkers board from 1 to 32? This means that moves are notated in a simple format like “11–15,” which is exactly what it sounds like. You shifted a piece from square 11 to 15.

Well, chess uses an entirely different notation system that combines letters on the bottom of the board and numbers on the left side. Some chess boards have the notations marked, while others don’t. You can still imagine it, though.

Naturally, since it’s an 8×8 grid, you’re working with values of 1–8 (ranks) and a–h (files) to describe where a square is on the board.

For instance, you can use “e4” to say that you’ve moved a pawn to the square on the fourth rank and the e-file.

To make matters a bit harder, you’ll have to include something in the notation that shows which piece was moved. After all, chess pieces aren’t all the same, unlike checkers. That’s why chess players add an abbreviation (K for king, N for knight, and so on) at the beginning.

The exceptions to the rule are the pawns—those don’t need an abbreviation. So, you can leave “e4” as-is or write “Pe4” if you’d like.

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Now, it’s worth mentioning that this is all just the algebraic chess notation. There’s also the descriptive system, which is even more complex!


Can you play chess on a checkerboard?

Yes, it’s doable. Since the square count is identical, you could use a checkerboard to play chess and vice versa.

In fact, some sets are even sold as a 3-in-1 model, where the chess side of the foldable platform doubles as a checkerboard, and the underside is used for backgammon.

What other board games can you play on a regular checkerboard?

Aside from using the 8×8 board for chess and checkers, you can also try it with other games, such as:

Are all draughts boards the same size as the traditional chess board?

No, international draughts (also called Polish draughts) are played on a large board with a 10×10 grid, but that’s not the only exception. The Canadian variation calls for a whopping 12×12 grid with 144 squares and 30 pieces per player!

Still, American checkers games use a regular 8×8 board.

Final Thoughts

To recap, a checkerboard usually has 64 squares, just like the typical chess grid.

However, it’s missing the nifty algebraic indices that you might notice on some boards specifically made for chess. That could be a bit of a hiccup for beginners who still need help with their notations.