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This depends on the variation you're playing. A lot of variations allow capturing backwards with regular pieces (called men). The English variation is probably the most common that doesn't allow backwards capturing. By the international rules, capturing backwards is allowed (and mandatory if it results in the largest capture group). There's an extensive ...
No, the game does not become unplayable. Years ago, I regularly played without the forced capture rule, and found the experience enjoyable. There is also have the Huffing Rule variant, where the capture is not forced, but by not taking the capture you lose that piece after your turn.
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