Let’s start with what Chinese Checkers isn’t – it neither came from China, nor is it a variation on the game of checkers. The game was originally called Halma and is of European descent. But Halma sounds more like a medical condition than a really fun game, so American game manufacturers gave it a more exotic moniker and the rest is history.
The history of the game is somewhat murky, with some giving credit to a late nineteenth century Victorian Englishman and others recognizing German game manufacturer Ravensburger as the creator. However Halma began, it evolved over time from the original board into one in the shape of a six-sided star (or stern, in German) with a no man’s land in the middle.
Although played here and there in America as early as the late eighteenth century, it wasn’t until legendary game magnate J. Pressman brought it out of obscurity in 1928 that it entered the public conscience. Realizing that young tykes might not line up to play Halma, he cleverly changed the name. Other companies began coat-tailing on Pressman’s success, among them L. G. Ballard, who introduced “Star Checkers” and Milton Bradley with their own version in the early 1940s.
Anywhere from two to six players can play Chinese Checkers (excluding five). General rules give each player ten colored marbles arranged like bowling pins located in one of the star’s points. The object of the game is to marble-by-marble move your way across the hexagonal landscape and fill the star point opposite from the one where you started.