Chinese Checkers, also called Sternhalma, is a German strategy board game that can be played by 2-6 players. It is a simplified version of a game called Halma (a strategy board game invented in 1883 or 1884 by George Howard Monks). My parents had the version pictured here, a round metal container that stored the marbles and checker pieces. Flip it over and it was a checkerboard.
This was really confusing, I thought maybe it was a game called Chinese and another one called checkers. This one was made by “The Ohio Arts Company, Ohio” from the 1950s to 1960s and measures 12.5″ across x 1″ deep. This was a game that I would play with my parents all the time.
Hoppity eventually made its way to Germany, where it abandoned its British squareness and adopted a six-pointed star for the board. Dubbed “Stern-Halma” (“Halma” being the German name for Hoppity, and “Stern” being “star”) modern Chinese Checkers was born.
It would be until the American toy company Pressman Co., obsessed with the “Oriental mystique”, released their version of Stern-Helma under the name “Hop Ching Checkers.” It was a hit, released in 1928 with its Chop-Suey style font and dragons. In 1941, Milton Bradley patented the name “Chinese Checkers” for their release.
To win you must move all your 10 marbles (or pegs) all the way, straight across the board, to the opposite triangle. If at any point, you cannot move a piece, you lose. You can move your piece one spot at a time. You can also hop over other pieces to an empty space.
The color of the piece you’re hopping over does not matter. When hopping over a piece it remains an active game piece. You can hop until you run out of possible hops. You can move to any open spot, even the ones in unused triangles if you wish. Once in the opposite triangle, you cannot move that piece back out.
The strategy involves setting up long hops, getting your pieces across the board faster. Also, blocking these long hops can play into your strategy also. With only two players you can choose to play one, two, or three triangles each. If only playing one each then 15 pieces are sometimes used.