I've been playing tournament chess for 20 years. Recently I started playing checkers (the American version).

In chess, tactics is about calculating the next few moves ahead. Strategy is the long-term kind of thinking, what to do when there is nothing to do tactically. I tried to apply these methods of thinking to checkers too.

After I read some books on checkers, I was pretty disappointed. While they all claim to teach strategy, all they contain are some openings and tactical positions. Nothing about strategy, positional guidelines or how to select your candidate moves. Only "if white moves here then red moves here" and so on.

The only strategical guideline I found was: "try to control the center", but again with a concrete game as an example. During a game, most of the time I have absolutely no clue who has the advantage, because I am missing a set of theoretical guidelines.

So, my question is: Is checkers "just" tactics, or is it more and I have overlooked something?

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    Checkers is a solved game. Two perfect players will always play to a draw. So in a sense there is one perfect strategy and it's just a test of tactical ability to see who makes a mistake first. (In tournaments it is normal to draw the opening moves out of a hat as mitigation.) – Affe Sep 9 '14 at 18:25
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    @Affe You switched context mid comment. A perfect player would never make a mistake. A human player couldn't know a perfect strategy. It makes no sense to say "there is one perfect strategy and it's just a test of tactical ability to see who makes a mistake first" – Rainbolt Sep 9 '14 at 21:09
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    I've voted to close this as primarily opinion based, as I think it's a question that's going to draw out opinion and discussion, and doesn't have an objectively correct answer. It's a fine question, but for a discussion site rather than here. – doppelgreener Sep 10 '14 at 1:54
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    @Affe i don't know if being solved matters. chess is certainly solvable (with a large enough computer). The optimal "tactic" is just to do whatever that hypothetical, very big computer says to do. – rrenaud Sep 10 '14 at 16:25

Checkers is defintely not just tactics! While checkers is not in the same strategic league as chess, there are clear strategic concepts. For example, controlling the long diagonal is somewhat similar to the idea of controlling the centre in chess.

Another example is playing to open one side, for the purposes of crowning pieces. This is analogous to the idea of king-side or queen-side pawn storms in chess.

Even choosing whether to commit to an exchange or not is strategic, just as it is in chess. You are weighing up not only the material consequences of the exchange, but the positional consequences as well, both short and long term.

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  • So how do I evaluate any random checkers position on who has any advantage? In chess there are clear and easy rules for this. But for checkers? Should I make this a new question? – dwo Sep 10 '14 at 9:32
  • It's a new question, although it's rather hard to answer. If you asked the equivalent chess question, that would be hard to answer too. Feel free to ask though. – ire_and_curses Sep 10 '14 at 18:31
  • Well, your wikipedia link on chess strategy answers the question pretty good. – dwo Sep 10 '14 at 21:48
  • And if a good player could not answer this question, it would prove my point of the main question :-) – dwo Sep 10 '14 at 21:50
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    Regarding strategic depth chess vs. checkers: former world champion Marion Tinsley has been quoted by the principal scientist that solved the game: "Playing chess is like looking out over a limitless ocean; playing checkers is like looking into a bottomless well." – TemplateRex Sep 14 '14 at 16:51

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