men playing draughts, dirk jacobs ploegsma

The men in this scene seem to be having a good time, smoking their long clay pipes and playing a board game. The small pot on the table is a spittoon, in which the men could spit out the bitter tobacco juices from their pipes. It is assumed that the figure on the left is Dirk Jacobs Ploegsma, the painter who made this work. He is playing a game of Frisian draughts with a friend.

Dammende mannen, Dirk Jacobs Ploegsma, 1790

Men playing draughts, Dirk Jacobs Ploegsma, 1790

One of the differences with ordinary draughts is that the Frisian version is much faster because the players are allowed to capture the opponent’s stones by moving in all eight directions: forward, backward, to the left, to the right and diagonally. The Frisians are known to have played this version since the 17th century, and didn’t start playing the Dutch variant until around 1900, after which the name ‘Oer alles’ (in all directions) came into use to distinguish the Frisian version from the Dutch one .