Chinese checkers (alternative spelling Chinese chequers) is a board game that can be played by two to six people. It is a variant of Halma; the objective of the game is to place one's pieces in the corner opposite their starting position of a pitted hexagram by single moves or jumps over other pieces.
Despite being called “Chinese Checkers”, the game did not originate in China or any part of Asia, nor is it a variation of checkers. (The less well-known game "Chinese chess", or xiangqi, is.) The game was invented in Germany in 1892 under the name “Stern-Halma”, as a variation on the older American game of Halma. The “Stern” (German for star) refers to the star-shape of the board (in contrast with the square board of 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 mostly introduced to Chinese-speaking regions by the Japanese.)
The aim of the game is simply to enter all of one's ten marbles into the opposite "Home base" (star point) on the opposite side of the board before any other player in the game finishes entering his/her pieces likewise.
In the "hop across", most popular variation, each player puts his or her own colored marbles on one of the six points or corners of the star and attempts to relocate them all to the opposite corner. Players take turns moving one marble, either by moving it one single adjacent step or moving a chain of one or any other number of available hops or 'jumps', as they are often called. A step consists of moving a marble to an adjacent unoccupied space in any of the six available directions. In the diagram at right, Green might move the topmost marble diagonally one space down and to the left. A hop consists of jumping directly over a single adjacent marble, either one's own or an opponent's, to the unoccupied space directly over and beyond the adjacent marble. In the diagram at right, Red might advance the indicated marble by a chain of three hops in one single move. It is not mandatory to advance the marble by as many hops as is possible in the chain. In some instances a player may choose to stop the move part way through the chain to impede the opponent's progress or to align their marbles for planned future moves.
Essentially, the basic strategy is to find the longest hopping path that leads closest to, or immediately into, the "home" base (star point) on the opposite side of the board instead of moving step by step, as it obviously requires fewer moves to finish when using multiple jumps in one single move. However, since one or more players can make use of whatever hopping 'ladders' an opponent creates, more advanced strategy requires a player hindering opposing players in addition to helping himself or herself find jumps across the board. Of equal importance are the players' strategies for emptying and filling their origin and destination triangles. Games between experts are rarely decided by more than a couple of moves.
In the fast-paced variant, which is played mainly in Hong Kong, game pieces may hop over non-adjacent pieces. A hop consists of jumping over a distant marble to a symmetrical position on the opposite side. For example, if there are two empty spaces between the moving marble and the marble over which it is hopping, it lands on the opposite side with a gap of two empty spaces. As before, a single move may be a chain of hops, as shown in the diagram at left.
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