One of the problems of checkers is that it is played in a bazillion different variants in different countries. Chess is played with the same rules in all countries, and I strongly believe that this is one of the reasons that it is much more popular than checkers. In Europe, you cannot go from one country to another without changing rules: the board size (8x8 or 10x10), the capture rules (men can or cannot capture kings, men can or cannot capture backwards), the king movement (chess-king-like, flying in two different forms), the board orientation and the side to start the game can change. The last two items are essentially irrelevant, since they are just a convention - the game itself doesn't change if you change these rules, but of course it will appear unfamiliar to a player accustomed to another playing style.
Now, even without changing the possible moves, we can generate checkers variants: I'll take a closer look at two specific changes. The first is Kingscourt: the first side to make a king wins. If one player loses all pieces or cannot move, he loses. Another variant is Losing Checkers (also called suicide checkers): The side which loses according to normal rules wins.
The first thing to note is that Kingscourt cannot end in a draw; it must be a win either for black or for white. Losing checkers on the other hand has many drawn endgame positions, some of them are quite surprising! I'll return to this topic in my next post.