Board Games Classic Games

How to Play Chinese Checkers

Chinese Checkers: Strategies, Rules, and Fun Facts

Chinese Checkers is a timeless board game that combines simple rules with strategic depth. Played by two to six players, the game’s objective is to move all one’s pieces across the board to the star point directly opposite one’s starting point. This guide will walk you through the basics of Chinese Checkers, including its intriguing history, how to play, and strategies to become a formidable player.

The History Behind Chinese Checkers

Contrary to what its name suggests, Chinese Checkers was invented in Germany in 1892, originally named “Stern-Halma” as a variation of the American game Halma. The name “Chinese Checkers” originated from a marketing strategy in the 1920s to make the game seem more exotic and appealing in the United States. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the game’s engaging nature.

Setting Up the Game

Equipment

  • A Chinese Checkers board: A hexagram (six-pointed star), with each point having 10 holes.
  • 60 Pegs or Marbles: These are divided into sets of 10, each set having a different color, corresponding to the number of players.

Player Setup

  • For two players, each player starts with pegs in opposing points.
  • With three players, players control pegs at every other point around the star.
  • In four-player games, players form two teams, with each member starting at opposite points.
  • With six players, all points are occupied, and there are no teams.

Basic Rules and Gameplay

Objective

The goal is to be the first to move all your pieces to the opposing triangle across the board.

Moves

  • Single Move: A peg may move to an adjacent space or jump over another peg, regardless of color, into an empty hole directly beyond it.
  • Multiple Jumps: Multiple jumps over adjacent pegs are allowed within a single turn, making it possible to travel from one side of the board to the other in a single turn.

Starting the Game

Players decide the order of play. The first player moves one peg, followed by the player to the left, and so on.

Strategies for Winning

Plan Your Path

  • Shortest Route: Look for the shortest path to get your pieces across the board and into the opposing triangle.
  • Blocking: Place your pegs in a way that blocks your opponents’ paths while keeping yours open.

Mastering the Jump

  • Chain Jumps: Create opportunities for chain jumps that allow your pegs to move across the board quickly.
  • Hop Over Your Own Pegs: Use your own pegs to set up jumps and create shortcuts.

Variations to Enhance Play

Super Chinese Checkers

This version introduces one or two “super” pieces per player, which can move any distance in a straight line or perform a single jump over any distance, adding an extra layer of strategy.

Fast Chinese Checkers

In this fast-paced variation, players can move any piece out of their starting triangle from the beginning, speeding up the game significantly.


Chinese Checkers is a game of strategy, foresight, and sometimes, a bit of luck. Whether you’re playing a casual game with family or a competitive match with friends, the game offers a perfect blend of simplicity and complex strategy. With practice and strategic planning, you can master the art of Chinese Checkers and enjoy countless hours of fun.

By incorporating different variations and strategies, you can keep the game fresh and challenging, making every match an exciting new adventure. So, gather your friends or family, set up your board, and dive into the strategic world of Chinese Checkers.

Where to Buy: Find Chinese Checkerboards on Amazon ($19.99)

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