How to Play Chinese Checkers

Published April 29, 2010 | Updated August 13, 2015

Chinese checkers is a popular variation of the game checkers and, contrary to popular belief, did not originate in China. The game was originally named "Halma" and actually came from Europe. It has been played in the United States since the 1920s. The object of Chinese checkers is to move your game pieces from one side of the board to the opposite end before your opponents do. The game, designed for two to six players, involves simple strategy, so it's a good board game for children as well as adults. Whether you want to learn the game or simply brush up on the rules, keep reading to learn how to play Chinese checkers.

Playing Chinese Checkers:

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  • Set up the Board

    Have each player choose a color of marbles or pegs (depending on the board type). Place the game pieces into the triangles of the same color.

  • Flip a Coin

    In order to decide who begins the game, do a coin toss. If there are more than two players, keep flipping until one person is left. The winner of the coin toss starts the game, and the other players then take turns in a clockwise pattern.

  • Move One Piece per Turn

    You may move to an empty adjacent spot or jump another piece if there is a space on the other side. You can only jump one piece at a time but may continue to jump over other pieces as long as there are spaces on the other side of each one you jump. Your move ends after you can no longer move the piece or choose not to.

  • Plan Your Strategy

    Imagine where your opponents will move and block their moves by positioning two or more marbles in their path. Be careful not to move your marbles so far into a side triangle that you must use up your turns just to get them back in the center of the board.

  • Win the Game

    You win the Chinese checkers board game by moving all of your pieces into the triangle across the board from your starting triangle. A game of Chinese checkers typically takes about 30 to 45 minutes.