Chinese Checkers is a board game that can be played by 2 to 6 people. The object of one of the game is to place your pieces in the starting position of the opponent, by moving them through jumps over other pieces. The game does not actually originate from China, but was given that name in the US to make it sound more exotic. When it was first released in Germany, it was called Stern-Halma, as it is exactly like the older game of Halma except that the board is star (stern) shaped.
The Chinese Checkers board is laid out in a six point star like the star of David (it is a coincidence, the game is unrelated to Judaism). The game pieces are usually 6 sets of colored marbles, 10 in each color. The 10 marbles are arranged as a triangle in the starting position in one of the corners of the star.
There are basically two games played on the game set. But each of the games has an original and a fast-paced version.
1) Hop across
Each player puts his or her own colored marbles on one corner of the star. Each takes turns to move the pieces across the field into the opposite corner. The player who finishes first is the winner. The piece can be moved one step at a time, or it can hop over another piece like in Western checkers, with the exception that the hopped over pieces are not removed from the board. The piece can be moved only one step at a time, conversely, hops can be strung together in one move. Hops and steps cannot be played in the same move. The main strategy is to find the longest hopping path instead of moving step by step.
e.g. one can move the piece "1" from
where O denotes an empty spot and X denotes a game piece.
Or one can move the piece 1 from
the game piece can only move into an empty spot.
In the fast-paced version, which is mainly played only in Hong Kong, game pieces can catapult across the field like an ICBM. e.g. one can move the piece "1" from
only if the empty spots on each side of the catapult are symetric. However,
cannot take the same move due to a blocking piece on the path. The chaining of hops is allowed as in
in one sequence of hops.
Usually, in the fast paced version, game pieces are allowed to enter into an empty corner in transition, but it must leave before the move is over.
The game layout can vary according to how many players are involved.
In a six player game, each player plays with one set of marbles. The pieces move into one of the opponents' corner. If your opponent refuses to move a piece out of the starting corner, you are out of luck to win the game because if he doesn't come out, you cannot finish.
In a five player game, the situation is same as the six player game except that one player moves his pieces into an empty corner. So he is in an advantageous position, usually a weaker player (e.g. a younger kid) would take that position.
The four player game, is same as the six player game except two opposite corners are unused.
In a three player game, the player can play one set or two sets of marbles. If one set is used, the game pieces are moved across the field into an empty corner. If two sets are used, each player starts with two color sets at opposite corners.
In a two player game, each player can play one, two or three sets of marbles. If one set is played, the pieces usually go into the opponent's corner. If two sets are played, the pieces can either go into the player's own opposite corners or into an opponent's corner. If three sets are played, the peices usually go to the opponent's corner.
Each layout takes different game strategy. For example, if your pieces go to your own corner, you can arrange your own pieces to serve as bridges between the two opposite ends. On the contrary, if your opponent occupies your target corner, you have to play a waiting game until he moves all his pieces out.
All 60 game pieces are put in the hexagonal field in the center of the game board. The one hole in the center of the board is left unoccupied so that the game board starts out with a symtrical hexagonal pattern. The players take turns to hop any game pieces over other game pieces on the board; the hopped over pieces are captured and collected in the player's bin. At the end of the game, 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 and multiple captures can often take place in one move. In this game, two or more players can participate. There is no upper limit to the number of players in this game, however, if there are more than six players, not everyone would get a fair turn.
The fast-paced version of this game allows the game pieces to catapult over multiple empty spots (same way as described in the other game above), the original version only allows small hops like in the western checkers.
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