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Chinese Checkers: 24 Fun / Interesting Facts (Trivia, Gameplay,…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Chinese Checkers is played by young and old around the world, and it is a multi-faceted game that can be simple or highly complex, depending on the strategies employed. It also has benefits for players far beyond their expectations.  

The basic rules of Chinese Checkers provide players with the framework in which to play, but there are also some fun facts, as well as interesting ones. They will add to your experience and assist when playing Chinese Checkers, hopefully helping you to win more games.

Assuming you have played Chinese Checkers, you will know the concept behind the game and what you can and cannot do. What you may not know, and which we will let you in on, is the history of the game, its origins, and a host of facts, tips, and ideas that go a lot further than the basic rules.

1. The Origins of Chinese Checkers

The Chinese Checkers game didn’t come from China, and it’s not derived from checkers. Invented in Germany in 1892, it was based on the American game of Halma. Halma was played on a four-sided board, while the new game used a six-pointed star-like board and was initially called Sternhalma (“Star Halma”).

2. How Chinese Checkers Got Its Name

The name “Chinese Checkers” was coined by brothers Bill and Jack Pressman, who discovered the game in 1921 (mysteriously, they never disclosed from whom). Originally called The Hop Ching Checker Game, it was renamed, it is said, due to the obsession with all things oriental caused by the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. 

3. The Name “Chinese Checkers” Was Never Trademarked 

Chinese Checkers was a massive success for the company. Still, they never protected the name for some reason, so the game was produced in various versions by several different game companies throughout the United States.

4. The Evolution of Chinese Checkers 

Original boards were wooden, and many are still manufactured in this material. But Pressman, the game’s originators, now produce a set with a folding cardboard board, with plastic pegs in place of the traditional glass or wooden marbles.

While traditionalists won’t be happy with plastic equipment, it’d be best for packing into travel bags, and the pegs are much easier for young fingers to handle than round marbles. 

5. There Are Only Fourteen Opening Moves In Chinese Checkers

It’s surprising but true that there are only fourteen possible opening moves, and these are mirrored, so in effect, there are only seven unique moves.

6. The Most Common Opening Moves In Chinese Checkers

 The most common moves are The Sidewinder and The Cross Caterpillar.

  • The Sidewinder entails taking your outermost marble and moving it diagonally away from the centerline.
  • The Cross Caterpillar is a similar move, but you move your marble towards the centerline.

7. In Chinese Checkers, The First Move is The Most Important

Experienced players use no more than four or five opening moves as it’s been established that these are the most effective way to start your attack.

8. It’s A Mistake To Rush your Moves In Chinese Checkers

Don’t allow your opponents to pressure you into making a move before you’re ready. Visualize the results of your action before you make it and what your next move should be.

9. Attack In Chinese Checkers Is Better Than Defense

Especially with three or more players, a defensive game is unlikely to succeed as it leaves too many options for your opponents. Plan attacking moves from the start.

10. Keep Your Marbles Together To Win Chinese Checkers

Keeping the spaces between your pieces to a minimum is a better strategy than spreading them across the board.

11. Blocking Can Be Dangerous In Chinese Checkers

While it is important to stop your opponent from developing a long chain, blocking slows down your game, so keep it to a minimum.

12. Building Bridges Is The Best Tactic In Chinese Checkers

Rather than moving forward in single steps, try to establish a chain or bridge which will allow you to jump several spaces in one move. 

13. Jumped Pieces Stay On The Chinese Checkers Board 

You are not allowed to remove any pieces from the board during a game. Even if you jump your opponent’s marbles, they still remain in play. Your opponent can still use these marbles to block any future moves from your side. 

14. Stragglers Will Cost You A Win In Chinese Checkers

Keep moving forward and keep your marbles in the center of the board to increase your chances. If you leave a marble behind, you may not have time to retrieve it before your opponent gets all their pieces into their target triangle.

15. There Can Be More Than One Winner In Chinese Checkers

If two or more players succeed in getting all ten of their marbles into their target triangles in the same round, the game is drawn or tied. With experienced players, that happens quite often.

16. Home To Target – The Quickest Path In Chinese Checkers

The least moves it takes to move all ten marbles across the board from the home triangle and fully into the target triangle is twenty-seven. That’s with only one player on the board and can’t happen in a real game.

17. There Are Six Traditional Colors In Chinese Checkers

More by tradition than by design, all Chinese Checkers boards use the same six colors for the sets of marbles and the corresponding triangles: yellow, red, green, white, black, and blue.

18. Chinese Checkers Helps To Develop The Brain

By learning to solve problems, plan strategies and employ logic, players of Chinese Checkers will develop neural pathways in the brain that will, in turn, allow them to overcome issues in their daily lives.

19. Chinese Checkers Is Also Good For Your Body 

By playing Chinese Checkers at least once a week, a player reduces stress levels, and stress has been proved to have serious adverse effects on an individual’s physical and mental health. Increased relaxation, forgetting the daily pressures for a while, will help you live a longer and happier life.

20. Chinese Checkers Can Combat Mental Decline

A study in France over twenty years showed conclusively that board games such as Chinese Checkers, played regularly, resulted in greater mental acuity in the elderly, less depression, and a decline in the incidence of Alzheimer’s.

21. Children Benefit From Playing Chinese Checkers

Children of four and above enjoy playing Chinese Checkers, and it has a positive impact on their reasoning skills, memory, and cognitive skills. Moving the marbles around the board also helps develop their fine motor skills.

22. Chinese Checkers Helps Develop Social Skills

It’s great to spend “together” time with friends and family, and playing a board game with others develops important communication and social skills in young children from the age of four. 

23. Chinese Checkers Can Be Played Online

If you cannot get together in person, you can still compete with others by learning and playing the game online. You can even play against AI. Simply access Chinese Checkers online.

24. Chinese Checkers is Fun!

It’s not only therapeutic but also great fun to play – so much so that it can be addictive!

In Closing

Chinese Checkers has been played worldwide for many years by people of all ages, and it remains trendy. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, but it challenges even the most skilled players. Whether you want to fill a few hours of leisure time, test your brainpower, or give your children a stimulating, healthy game to play, there is every reason to get the board out and start playing. Enjoy!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.