Dear Eric van Dusseldorp,

I have read your description of Thai checkers and your "pseudo-plädoyer" for transferring a rule from Thai checkers to International checkers. I found both very interesting!

Your proposal of using the "king-halt"-rule in the International game is not new. According to the rules of "Central-South German checkers" the king has to stop at the square immediately behind the last captured piece, see J.Boyer & V.R.Parton: LES JEUX DE DAMES NON-ORTHODOXES, Paris 1956, ch.11. In that same book it is mentioned that the former Dutch champion A.-K.-W.Damme proposed this rule in 1922 for the game on 100 squares. Boyer/Parton remarks that 2 kings against 1 always win. Damme's proposal was rejected by B. Springer and other masters (controverses in Le feu de Dames, 1922). A.C.W. Wageningen remarked that in positions in the normal game lost for 3 pieces against 1 king, the 3 pieces would win easily. After these controverses Maxime Fayet came up with a new proposal preserving the essence of the project. The king-halt rule proposed by Mr. Damme should only be used in case of multiple captures. This idea was likewise abandoned.

None of these two proposals are exactly identical with yours. The king-halt rule used in Thai checkers appears to be the same as that described in a brochure, published in Hamburg 1951, as that used in Germany nowadays: i.e. that after ALL captures the king must be placed on the square immediately behind the piece(s) captured, not only after the last piece in case of multiple captures.
This rule has also been dominant in Denmark since the mid 20th century. I found the earliest evidence in a children's encyclopedia, published in 1941. According to Louis van Deven, Illinois, U.S.A. this rule is also used in Finnish checkers. An excange student, Tuomo Kasanen demonstrated to him how they played checkers in Finland. In the Danish/Finnish/German game 2x12 pieces are used on an 8x8 board, ordinary pieces do not capture backwards and there is no obligation of capturing the most, if there is a choice. L.v.Deven gives some examples, and thells that "one odd thing about this game is that 3 kings always win against 1 king, but 2 kings never do." (Het Nieuwe Damspel 1981). You may compare this statement with that of Boyer/Parton referred to above.

The king-halt rule was used in Germany already in the early 19th century. It is mentioned in ARCHIV DER SPIELE, Berlin 1819: I quote: "Deutsches Damspiel. Die einfachen Steine gehen nur einen Diagonal-Schritt vorwärts; aber niemals rückwärts, sondern bloss rechts und links. Eben so schlagen sie auch nur. Die Damen gehen vor- und rückwärts über die ganze Diagonal-Linie, so weit sie kommen können, und schlagen auch so, jedoch nur dergestalt, dass sie wie ein einfacher Stein die Dame unmittelbar hinter den geschlagenen Stein setzen müssen."  Several contempory German game book authors describe the rules of German checkers without this rule, so it was apparently not universally accepted.

I have downloaded several Zillions-implementations, which play varous checkers variants, including German checkers. The two German checkers programs I have tried follow different rules, one with and one without the king-halt rule. Both are made by German programmers. Thus, some Germans do still use that rule, when playing checkers.
Arie van der Stoep in his A HISTORY OF DRAUGHTS, Rockanje 1984, knows examples of this rule also from Austria and Argentina (p.164).

It is a very good question, how this rule was introduced in Thai checkers.

As you know, Jean-Bernard Alemanni has recently got some more detailed rules of the Thai game from a Thai player.
We must conclude that there is no evidence of Frisian checkers being played in Thailand, cf. the article "Fries(?) dammen in Thailand" door Arie van der Stoep, HOOFDLIJN mei 1997 nr.54, p.24-26.

Recently I have come across some rules of Czech draughts/checkers. I have already sent these to Jean-Bernard and now send them to you, too.

In an article by A.W. de Haan from 1957, reprinted in the newest issue of OER ALLES, I found some interesting pieces of information concerning the distribution of ortho-diagonal, or - in my opinion: rather in orthogonal checkers. The source of information was the former world champion, Herman Hoogland, Utrecht: "In vroeger tijden werd er in Duitsland ook "dwars en recht" gedamd. Maar ook nu nog gebeurt dit in Turkije, Griekenland, Bulgarije, Hongarije, Albanië, Egypte, Perzië, in een deel van Israël, in Abessinië, India en Indonesië, maar dan op een bord met 64 velden."
From other sources I know about orthogonal checkers in Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, and also in Kuwait, Bahrain and at the East African coast near the border between Kenya and Tanzania. Finally an orthogonal, perhaps ortho-diagonal variant is played in Armenia. Several countries on H. Hoogland's list are not mentioned in A.v.d.Stoep's 1984 book, or in K.W. Kruijswijk's from 1966. I wonder, if Hoogland's sources of information have been preserved in an evt. archive. According to A.v.d. Stoep (1984, p.162) Hoogland kept up a correspondence with a player in Ankara who made problems in Turkish checkers. It seems thus that the former world champion was really interested in that kind of checkers.

Best wishes,

Peter Michaelsen.