Better Half has found himself surrounded by out-laws (not quite in-laws) who like to get together and play games. My out-laws (BH's family) think this is hilarious, because of BH's reputation as a games-hater, which stems from several throwing-over-the-board-in-disgust incidents from when he was a child. When I met him, he was willing to play Connect Four with his godchildren, but only because he could still obliterate them. I count it as great progress that he now actually volunteers to play Yahtzee and Cribbage and will tolerate a few more games. (God, I've been good for him.) But games still remain a source of transatlantic miscommunication in the family since they, as we've seen already, frequently have different names in different places. The ones I'll cover in this series don't require a lot of discussion, hence my putting them all together like this.
Most of you will know that (BrE) draughts is (AmE) checkers. Or checkers is draughts -- I can't figure out whether I think the earlier term should go first or last in that equation, I can see the connotations going either way. You may also know that Americans spell draught as draft, reflecting the fact that the 'gh' is pronounced 'f', but while I have seen the board game sold as Checkers/Draughts in the US, I've never seen the BrE name of the game translated into AmE spelling. (I'm not going to get into the pronunciation of the vowel...suffice it to say that it too is different in different places.) Where do these names come from? It's a tricky question, since the OED, amazingly enough, includes neither draughts nor checkers. (No, what's amazing enough is my poor dictionary search skills in this instance--see the comments.) The Online Etymology Dictionary tells us that draughts is related to dragon and goes back to about 1400. Checkers, alluding to the appearance of the board, arose in America in the 18th century. That "OED" (shall I call it OnEtyD?) also notes that "British prefers [the spelling] chequer, but the U.S. form is more authentic." Another case (cf. -ise) of British spelling being influenced by French. So, (AmE) Chinese checkers is known (though not very widely, it seems) in BrE as Chinese chequers. (Chinese draughts seems much less common, and seems mostly to be used by non-native speakers).
BrE Ludo (left, from Wikipedia), from the Latin for 'I play', is the game that Americans call Parcheesi (right, from Robby Findler's software construction course), though as you can see their boards are slightly different. It derives from an Indian game, and the AmE name is based on the Hindi name--which has been spelled in many ways in English, with pachisi sometimes regarded as 'most authenthic'. Parcheesi is the most familiar spelling in the US, as that's how the game was marketed by Selchow & Righter, 'the house that Parcheesi built'.
Once you know about Ludo, it makes more sense that the game that is called Clue in AmE is called Cluedo in BrE. Cluedo came first, as it was named by its inventor, A.E. Pratt of Birmingham, in the 1940s. Since the pun wouldn't be appreciated in the US, it was marketed there as Clue. The game is the same, except for the names of some of the characters, weapons and rooms. There's a nice table of this at Cluedofan.com (click 'International'). The Hollywood film based on the game, incidentally, was called Clue internationally and used the American character names.
I've got other board games to cover under part 2--children's games. There may be a part 3 on card games, if I can find more to mention. E-mail me if you have any suggestions.