Official Rules for Chinese Checkers

By Nicholas Pell
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Chinese checkers don't originate in the Orient. The game has its roots in a British game known as "hoppity." Whether playing a friendly game on your back porch or competing in a tournament, it's important to know the official rules for Chinese checkers. Knowing the official rules of the game allows you to avoid wasting time arguing over the rules.

Initial Set Up

The Chinese checkers board is in the form of a six-pointed star with small divots for the pieces. Pieces are usually marbles, but sometimes pegs are used. Players start with their ten pieces all in the corner corresponding to their color. In a two-player game, players should play colors laying opposite one another. When three players compete, players must leave one empty space between each other. Chinese checkers cannot be a five player game, since this leaves one player competing against an empty side of the board.

Beginning the Game

Players may decide among themselves who will begin the game of Chinese checkers. If players prefer not to decide among themselves, a coin toss is the only method provided by the official rules of the game to decide what player will begin.

Movement

Each turn, every player may move one of her pieces to a space adjacent to it. Players also have the option to jump over marbles occupying adjacent spaces. While players may move only one of their pieces one space, players are allowed to make as many jumps as they like. In Chinese checkers, jumped pieces are not removed from the board. When a player's marker moves into the point of the opposite color, it cannot move out of this point. However, the piece can be moved within the point normally. Players can move pieces into the finishing points on the board that are not in use or the starting points of opposing players.

Winning

The first player to move all ten of his tokens to their destination has won the game. The official rules for Chinese checkers do not address situations where a player blocks the last remaining target space of a player who would otherwise win the game. However, Masters Games recommends that players in this situation be allowed to swap pieces on a move. Alternately, you can allow a player to win when all available object spaces are occupied. Again, the official rules of Chinese checkers make no reference to this rule one way or the other.

About the Author

Nicholas Pell began writing professionally in 1995. His features on arts, culture, personal finance and technology have appeared in publications such as "LA Weekly," Salon and Business Insider. Pell holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.