Emergo is a two-player abstract board game played on a square checkerboard that was invented by Christian Freeling and Ed van Zon in 1986. This game belongs to 'column checkers'  family of games, like Bashni and Lasca.


Emergo is played on a 9x9 checkerboard.

There are two players: the first one has 12 White and the second has 12 Black checkers before a game starts.

A smaller board (7x7) can also be used by beginners or for quick games. In this case both players have 8 checkers each.


The goal of Emergo is to capture all opponent's pieces.


Players move alternatively, starting from the player with the light checkers.

The game play consists of two phases:

  1. Entering checkers
  2. Moving checkers

During both phases there will be situations, in which a player will be able to capture an opponent's piece (or pieces).


During the game colums of men arise. These are called pieces. The color of the topman determines the owner. A single man may be considered a 'piece of 1'.

A piece can capture an enemy piece standing on a diagonally adjacent cell if the next cell in the same direction is empty. The capture can be made in all four directions by jumping over the enemy piece and placing the own piece on the next empty cell, taking along only the top man of jumped piece, as a prisoner underneath. When a single checker is captured the number of pieces on the board is reduced by one. If the same player's piece can continue capturing another enemy piece in any direction except where it came from, then it must do so. In the diagram the white man captures two black men:

Before the capture   After the capture

If the next checker in the stack is of a different color the captured topmost one, than the piece is considered to be "released" and can be used by its new owner on the next move:

Before the capture  

After the capture

The topmost dark checker was taken from the stack. The light checker beneath it was released.

Capture is mandatory. It means that if the player can capture an enemy checker (or checkers) on his turn then he must do so.

Majority capture precedes: if a player has a choice of jump sequences then he must choose the sequence that captures the most enemy checkers. In the process the capturing piece may visit a cell more than once as well as jump an opponent's piece more than once (going roundabout).

"Feeding": forcing your opponent to make a capture is called "feeding". It is a basic tactic serving a strategic goal: feeding multiple men to an opponent's piece is the only mechanism to create a stack of your own. Of course you should make sure beforehand that following the feeding you can liberate this stack by capturing the guard(s)!

Entering phase

During the "Entering" phase players place a single checker per turn in an empty cell of the board meeting the following conditions:

  • The Light player cannot place a checker in the central cell of the board (E5 on 9x9 board) on his very first move.
  • Feeding is not allowed, unless one or more of the moving player's pieces on the board are being attacked by his opponent: 

A Dark player cannot place his checker in the cells marked with "X"s because the Light player will be able to capture it on his next turn.


A Light player placed his third checker on the highlighted cell threatening to capture the dark checker. In this case the Dark player is allowed to place his next checker in any empty cell of the board (even those cells, which are attacked by the Light player).

A player may still have several checkers in hand while his opponent has all his checkers on the board. In this case the player must enter all his remaining checkers as one stack. This stack is called "the shadowpiece". This is always the result of one player entering while the other must capture. It is not at all unusual: creating a large shadowpiece is a very valid strategic goal, particularly for Dark player. 

Moving phase

After all 12 checkers are placed on the board the "moving" phase begins. During this phase each player, if not obliged to capture, must move any of his pieces to any empty diagonally adjacent cell on his turn.

End of game

The game ends up in one of the following situations:

  • A player wins if he captures all the opponent pieces.
  • A game ends in a draw if a player has no legal moves while having pieces on the board (i.e. all his pieces are blocked).

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