The Mystique of Chinese Checkers

You may have grown up playing with one. And, if you rummage through your attic, chances are you may still find that game board with the six-pointed star called Chinese checkers. Despite its simplicity and popularity with people of all ages, the curious thing about Chinese checkers is that it is neither Chinese in origin nor a game of checkers.

The origin of Chinese checkers can be traced to "Halma," that became popular in Great Britain in the 1870s, and which in turn was based on an older British board game called "Hoppity." The six-pointed star, or "Stern," was later introduced in 1892 into the board by the German game company, Ravensburger, and called the game "Stern-Halma." Then, in 1928, latching on to the interest in the Oriental mystique sweeping the world at that time, such as the introduction of Mah Jong in 1923 and the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922, J. Pressman & Co. called it "Chinese Checkers." A craze for the game hit America in the 1930s. Despite the popularity of the game, its past was not totally obliterated and is still called Halma in Germany where it is still played under the original rules.

Each of the six points of the star, which has its own color, contains ten marbles of the same color. Because the star on the board layout has six points, up to six players can play the game. The goal of each player is to get all his marbles to his opponent's star point directly facing him. The most common way of moving the marbles is by hopping across one space on the board one marble at a time, or by jumping over one of his marbles, or his opponent's to quickly move across the board.

A player may set up the board for two and play each side to practice how to move his marbles across the board or try jump combinations and new strategies. Chinese checkers is so simple that children can easily learn it. With the help of the game, parents can teach their children learn critical thinking and motors skills. Even a child who is poor in basic arithmetic will be able to play the game because it does not involve any dice throwing, counting or scoring.

Chinese checkers is not only excellent for the young, but for the old as well, whose poor eyesight prevents them from playing games that involve a lot of complex rules or reading. That is why Chinese checkers are inexpensive and ideal tools for keeping seniors in nursing homes busy, mentally alert and entertained. So, why don't you bring down from the attic that game board and have some quality and fun time with your family moving those marbles.