How to Follow the Rules of Chinese Checkers

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Chinese checkers was invented in Germany, not China as the name suggests, in 1893. The rules of Chinese checkers are very straightforward and easy to follow. The playing board is in the shape of a 6-pointed star with each player's "home base" being one of the points. The object of Chinese checkers is to be the first to move each of your 10 playing pieces into the other player's home base.

Things You'll Need

  • Coin, dice or playing cards
  • Set up the board according to the rules of Chinese checkers. Each player chooses a color of marbles or pegs that will be his playing pieces. For games with 2, 4 or 6 players, place all 10 of the pieces in triangles that are opposite each other. When 3 people are playing together, use the triangles that are equidistant from each other.

  • Choose an equitable way of deciding who will make the first move of the game. Flip a coin, roll dice or select a playing card. Be sure all the players are in agreement about whether high or low wins the first move when using cards or dice.

  • Follow the rules of Chinese checkers by moving only 1 of your 10 playing pieces during each of your turns. This simple rule makes it challenging for you to decide which piece to move each time.

  • Move Chinese checkers playing pieces to a directly adjacent spot. You can move forward, backward or sideways but the spot has to be next to where the piece originally was located. Moving a piece to a random spot on the board without jumping other pieces is not allowed.

  • Follow the rules of jumping to advance across the board quickly. Chinese checkers rules allow a player to jump over his own pieces as well as those of an opponent. The only stipulation with jumping is that there has to be an empty space on the other side of each piece you are jumping. That means you can jump any number of pieces as long as you jump them one at a time.

  • Keep all playing pieces on the board during a game of Chinese checkers. Unlike traditional checkers or chess, pieces are not removed when they are jumped.

  • Learn the rules regarding swaps. Sometimes a player will intentionally keep 1 of her pieces in her home base area so her opponent is unable to complete the game with 10 pieces in the goal area. If you decide to use a swap rule in this scenario, the player who has 9 pieces in the goal area first is able to swap out her final piece with the opponent's piece that has never moved out, so that she can win the game.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you play Chinese checkers regularly with the same partners and have made up your own rules regarding swaps, write them down. Keep the piece of paper with your Chinese checkers set so it will be handy the next time you play. This is a way to avoid future disputes over the swap rules.
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