- Chinese checkers
A typical pitted-wood game board using six differently colored sets of marbles as game pieces. Another popular arrangement uses differently colored pegs in holes.
Genre(s) Board game Players 2–6, not 5 Setup time Around 1 minute Playing time 10 minutes to 2 hours Random chance None Skill(s) required Tactics, strategy
Chinese checkers (alternate spelling Chinese chequers) is a board game that can be played by two, three, four, or six people, playing individually or with partners. The game is a modern and simplified variation of Halma.
The objective is to be first to race one's pieces across the hexagram-shaped game board into "home"—the corner of the star opposite one's starting corner—using single-step moves or moves which jump over other pieces. Others keep playing to establish 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and last place finishers. The game involves some strategy but is popular even among young children.
Despite the name "Chinese Checkers", the game is not a variation of checkers, nor did it originate in China or any part of Asia. (The lesser-known game "Chinese chess", or xiangqi, is from China.) The game was invented in Germany in 1892 under the name "Stern-Halma" as a variation of the older American game Halma. The "Stern" (German for star) refers to the board's star shape (in contrast to the square board used in Halma). The name "Chinese Checkers" originated in the United States as a marketing scheme by Bill and Jack Pressman in 1928. The Pressman company's game was originally called "Hop Ching Checkers".
The game was introduced to Chinese-speaking regions mostly by the Japanese.
The aim of the game is simply to enter all one's pieces into the star corner on the opposite side of the board, before opponents do the same. Each player has ten pieces, except in games between two players when 15 are sometimes used. (On bigger star boards, 15 or 21 pieces are used.)
In the "hop across", the most popular variation, each player puts his/her own colored pieces on one of the six points or corners of the star and attempts to race them all "home" to the opposite corner. Players take turns moving a single piece, either by moving one step to an adjacent unoccupied space in any direction, or by jumping in one or any number of available consecutive hops over other single pieces. A player may not combine hopping with a single-step move – a move consists of one or the other. There is no capturing, so hopped pieces remain active on the game board. Move turns proceed clockwise around the board.
In the diagram, Green might move the topmost piece one space diagonally downward. A hop consists of jumping over a single adjacent piece, either one's own or an opponent's, to the unoccupied space directly beyond in the same line of direction. Red might advance the indicated piece by a chain of three hops in a single move. It is not mandatory to make the maximum number of hops possible. (In some instances a player may choose to stop the jumping sequence part way, in order to impede the opponent's progress, or to align pieces for planned future moves.)
A basic strategy is to find the longest hopping path that leads closest to, or immediately into, "home" – the destination star point at the opposite side of the board. (Multiple-jump moves are obviously faster to relocate pieces than step-by-step moves.) Since either player can make use of any hopping 'ladder' or 'chain' created, more advanced strategy involves hindering an opposing player, in addition to helping oneself find jumps across the board. Of equal importance are the players' strategies for emptying and filling their starting and home corners. Games between experts are rarely decided by more than a couple of moves.
Differing numbers of players result in different game layouts. Each layout imposes a different best-game strategy. For example, if a player's "home" or destination corner is empty (not an opponent's starting corner), the player can freely arrange his/her pieces to serve as a 'ladder' or 'bridge' between the two opposite ends. But if a player's opponent occupies the home destination corner, the player might be better advised to play a "waiting game" until all pieces have moved out.
Can be played as six individual competitors, or three teams of two. When playing teams, teammates usually sit at opposite corners of the star, with each team member controlling his/her own set of pieces. The first team to relocate both sets to "home" – their destination corners – wins.
The four-player game is the same as the game for six players, except that two opposite corners will be unused.
In a three-player game, all players control either one or two sets of pieces each. If one set is used, pieces race across the field into empty, opposite corners. If two sets are used, each player controls two differently colored sets of pieces at opposite corners of the star.
In a two-player game, each player plays one, two, or three sets of pieces. If one set is played, the pieces usually go into the opponent's starting corner, and the number of pieces per side is often increased to 15 (instead of the usual 10). If two sets are played, the pieces can either go into opposite empty corners, or into the opponent's starting corners. If three sets are played, the pieces usually go into the opponent's starting corners.
Fast-paced or Super Chinese Checkers
While the standard rules allow only small hops (as in checkers), this version of the game allows pieces to catapult over multiple empty positions when hopping.
In the fast-paced or Super Chinese Checkers variant, played in Mainland China and popular in France, a piece may hop over a non-adjacent piece. A hop consists of jumping over a distant piece (friendly or enemy) to a symmetrical position on the opposite side, in the same line of direction. (For example, if there are two empty positions between the jumping piece and the piece being jumped, the jumping piece lands leaving exactly two empty positions immediately beyond the jumped piece.) As in the standard rules, a jumping move may consist of any number of a chain of hops. (When making a chain of hops, a piece is usually allowed to enter an empty corner, as long as it hops out again before the move is completed.)
Jumping over two or more pieces in a hop is not allowed. Therefore, in this variant even more than in the standard version, it is sometimes strategically important to keep one's pieces bunched in order to prevent a long opposing hop.
An alternate variant allows hops over any symmetrical arrangement, including pairs of pieces, pieces separated by empty positions, and so on.
In the capture variant, all sixty game pieces start out in the hexagonal field in the center of the game board. The center position is left unoccupied, so pieces form a symmetric hexagonal pattern. Color is irrelevant in this variant, so players take turns hopping any game piece over any other eligible game piece(s) on the board. The hopped-over pieces are captured (retired from the game, as in American checkers) and collected in the capturing player's bin. Only jumping moves are allowed; the game ends when no further jumps are possible. The player with the most captured pieces is the winner.
The board is tightly packed at the start of the game; as more pieces are captured, the board frees up, often allowing multiple captures to take place in a single move.
Two or more players can compete in this game, but if there are more than six players, not everyone will get a fair turn.
- ^ According to Hoyle® Puzzle & Board Games User Guide, five people can not play, because one player wouldn't have an opponent opposite him or her.
- ^ In Halma, a game piece has eight different directions it may move; in Chinese Checkers, only six.
- ^ a b Bell, R C; The Boardgame Book. Exeter Books (1983). ISBN 0-671-06030-9
- ^ a b Bernardo Johns, Stephanie; The Ethnic Almanac. Doubleday Publishing (1981). ISBN 0385141432
- ^ Simonds Mohr, Merilyn; The New Games Treasury. Houghton Mifflin Company (1997). ISBN 1-57630-058-7
- ^ Schmittberger, R. Wayne; New Rules for Classic Games. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (1992). ISBN 0-471-53621-0
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