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Home > Traditional Games (Parlor Games) > Board Games > Chinese Checkers

Chinese Checkers
Rules and Strategy

Chinese Checkers is a traditional board game of strategy for 2 to 6 or even more players. Gameplay takes place on a specially-designed game board using 10 playing pieces per player.

The game does not really originate from China, or any part of Asia. Instead, the game is a variation of Halma, an American invention in the 19th Century.

Let's Play Chinese Checkers

A unique star-shaped game board using marbles as playing pieces.


What's Needed to Play a Game of Chinese Checkers:

* 2 to 6 (or more) Players

* A game board shaped as a hexagram (6-pointed star) containing 121 spaces

* 10 identical colored playing pieces per player

* Note: Improvised playing pieces can be made out of coins, tokens, or even flattened bottle caps

About The Chinese Checkers Game Board:

The Game Board is shaped as a 6-pointed star (known as a Hexagram). Each point on the star can be played, allowing a maximum of 6 players under normal game rules. Each point on the star contains 10 spaces, while the hexagonal area in the center contains 61 spaces, for a grand total of 121 spaces. Except for spaces that lie along the edge of the game board, each space has to 6 other spaces adjacent to it.

Objective of a Game of Chinese Checkers:

* Moving in turns from their starting points on the hexagram-shaped gameboard, the players are supposed to travel all 10 of their playing pieces to the opposite points of the 6-pointed star. Refer to Diagram Zero: Orange Player wins the game if he is the first to move his 10 checkers from the Orange Zone to the Green Zone.

Chinese Checkers Starting Position and illustration of moves
Diagram Zero: The Chinese Checkers Board
An illustration of moves by Player Orange:
From Starting Position, the Player moves in 4 turns (wherein the 2nd, 3rd and 4th moves are multiple hops). Lastly, the Winning Configuration is illustrated.

Moving the Checkers:

Each player starts with his 10 checkers positioned at one point of the hexagram.

Moving to an Adjacent Space: A player can move his checker to any vacant space adjacent to it.

Hopping over Adjacent Checkers: A player can hop over adjacent checkers of any color as long the space beyond the adjacent checker is vacant. Note: A player can jump over his own checkers.

No Captures: Unlike Draughts or Checkers, a game of Chinese Checkers does not involve capturing the playing pieces of your opponents.


Moving the Checkers: (continued)

Multiple Hops: Players are allowed to "chain" multiple hops. As long a further hop can be made from the newly landed square, a player can hop and keep on hopping at his discretion. Note: a player is allowed -- but not required -- to do multiple hops.

Playing with Less than 6 Players:

A fast game can be played when 2 players agree to use only 2 opposing points of the game board. Conversely, 2 players can play 4 points or even all 6 points of the game board, with each player controlling 2 or 3 sets of checkers.

For a balanced game with 3 players, each player should control 2 sets of checkers and the opposite point (or destination zone) should be controlled by an opponent. This is because a player who controls the opposite point can take advantage of multiple hopping, giving him an unfair advantage.

When 4 players participate, each player should control only 1 set of checkers (10 pieces per player), and the opposite point should be controlled by an opponent, rather than left vacant.

In a game with 5 players, one of the players will certainly have an unfair advantage over the others because he will be playing against an empty destination zone. Meanwhile, the other players have human opponents who can block and hinder their progress. Normally, this kind of advantage is given to a child or beginner.

Chinese Checkers Photo, in detail
Diagram 1: The Typical Chinese Checkers Board
The typical Chinese Checkers game board has indentations to represent the 121 spaces where the playing pieces (checkers) can rest. The typical checkers are colored marbles, although flat checkers (such as coins or tokens) can also be used.


Alternative Rules for Chinese Checkers:

Hop Across: (for Faster Gameplay)

Under this rule, checkers can jump across other checkers even if they are not directly adjacent. However, the hop needs to be symmetrical (in terms of the number of spaces traversed) from the checker that is hopped over. To illustrate: The player intends to jump over a checker located 2 spaces away (i.e., there is an empty space between the 2 checkers). For the jump to be valid, the jumping checker should land 4 spaces away from its original space (i.e., since there is 1 empty space between the original space and the checker to be hopped, then there should also be 1 empty space between the destination space and the checker that was hopped.) Hops can still be chained together for even quicker games.

Capture the Most Checkers: (for more than 6 players)

A variation of the game, here the winner is the player who manages to capture the most number of checkers. At the start of the game, all 60 checkers are placed in the middle hexagonal area of the game board, leaving the exact center of the board vacant. The players then take turns to "capture" adjacent checkers by using any checker on the game board. Captured checkers are removed from the board. The game ends when no more captures can be made with the remaining checkers on the board.

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Animated GIF FreeFree Printable Chinese Checkers Game Board
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Free Printable Game Board to play Chinese Checkers

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