Marcus: The other day Pi Wen and I played checkers, for the first time. All was going well at first. I moved, she jumped. She moved, I jumped. We were required to make any jumps we could, but would cut each other some slack if we forgot a jump.
Eventually we got to the other end of the board and said those majestic words: "King me." I was happy, because I could now move forwards and backwards. Of course, I could only make legitimate moves--when I had a clear jump, and over the minimum number of squares at a time. Obvious! Suddenly Pi Wen, after she became king, began flying across the board to make a jump, not just plodding along. Huh? What was wrong with this woman? Where did she learn to play checkers?
Pi Wen: We were jalan-jalan'ing in the lobby of the Claremont Hotel when I saw this checker set on the table, begging anyone who would pay attention to "please play me!" Marcus and I sat down and started moving our pieces. It was all fine at first, we each moved one square at a time, and I would "eat" his piece or he would "eat" my piece. Once, he forgot to "eat" my piece so I reached over to forfeit his piece. He said "Oh, I forgot!" So I pang-chan and let him reverse his move so he could "eat" my piece.
Marcus made it to king first, but I soon followed suit. Then, to my surprise, his king only "ate" one of my pieces that was right in front of him. I thought he could have flown in a zig-zaggy pattern and finished three of my pieces. Hmm... okay, maybe he wasn't paying attention, let it be then. I'll have more chances to win. Next was my turn to fly my king to eat one of his pieces that was 3 squares away from my king.
Marcus protested immediately. "No, you can't do that!!"
"Why not? That's how we play checkers in Malaysia."
What's the point of being a king if you can only move one square at a time? How boring. By then, I saw that it would take us much longer to finish the game. And the remaining pieces showed that I was losing, so I conceded. Marcus was kind, he agreed to play a second round of checkers using my rules. This time, I won. But he was grouchy because he thought having "flying kings" gave too much power to the first person who becomes king; in this case, me. But I insisted that this was how we played in Malaysia and Singapore. What's the problem?
Conclusion: We were both right! Thanks to Wikipedia, we now know that the Malaysian/Singaporean game allows "flying kings" and requires a forfeit if you miss a jump. This is Pi Wen's version of the game. English checkers is what Marcus played growing up.
The next time you see someone who is breaking the rules, make sure you know whose rules you're using.
Jalan-jalan: a Malay word for taking a leisurely walk.
Pang-chan: a Hokkienist-English word that means "give him a chance."