On one of her visits to all libraries of the known world Scrabblette found a book called Win At Checkers by Millard Hopper. I had Checkers rated a 5 which on my interpretation of the BGG rating system means "I might want to play this again some day". It's only a small book so I started reading. Mr Hopper writes very nicely and pretty soon I was hooked.
Checking the user comments for Checkers at BGG reveals many comments like "hate this game", "broken", "solvable". Broken and solvable aren't true, unlike ZERTZ which has a known strategy for first-player win on the standard board yet is rated 7.55 compared to 4.77 for Checkers. Don't get me wrong, I like ZERTZ, but I think Checkers is rated very unfairly. Consider that ZERTZ took the "must capture" rule from Checkers, and GIPF took the "if you can't move you lose" rule from Checkers. It's true, Checkers is a simple game, but GIPF is simpler and is rated 7.09. A lot of the user comments also mention that Chess is better. Maybe so, but Chess is a totally different sort of game that just happens to be played on the same board.
I think Checkers suffers very badly from the "bottom of the toy box" syndrome. People grew up with a copy of Checkers and they never really understood it and it got dumped in the bottom of the toy box. They may not have understood the "must capture" rule, or had arguments with their siblings about the rules and hence associate the game with family arguments and lost pieces and their annoying aunt forcing them to play with their whiny little sister. Monopoly suffers from the same bad associations and is similarly despised at BGG.
After reading Mr Hopper's book about how to lure your opponent into traps, I dragged out my checker board and started working through some of the longer explanations (there aren't many of them). Scrabblette challenged me to a game. Of course Scrabblette wasn't clear on the rules and hadn't just been reading a strategy book... then the kid came to visit and he hadn't been reading a strategy book either. The book doesn't actually help so much, though. I can recognise a position where I can force you into a trap but I have to wait for you to put yourself into such a position. I also know basic strategy such as "attack gaps in the defence" and "attack along the single corner line", but putting those ideas together into a good game is beyond me. Of the 3 computer opponents I've played on the easiest level I've only beaten one of them.
I changed my rating for Checkers to a 7. If I play more and start to understand it that might go up. For a game that is so closely related to some of the great modern abstracts, Checkers sure has a poor reputation.