Chinese Checkers

Chinese Checkers

Synopsis of Toy

For your own edification, Grant really is buried in Grant’s tomb. But Chinese Checkers aren’t really Chinese, that’s just a name that sounded a lot catchier to game manufacturers in the late 1920’s. And you can’t really blame them either, because originally this little number was called “Halma,” a word that sounds more like a medical condition than a game.

Anyway. Halma was a European leisure time diversion that was developed in the late nineteenth century, some say by Victorian Englishmen and some say by the famous German game company Ravensburger. Whoever was responsible, Halma made its way across the Atlantic and was played a bit on U.S. shores in the late 1800’s, but in 1928, early game guru J. Pressman introduced it in earnest. Re-christened Chinese Checkers, the game became a veritable craze in the 30’s. As the years passed, other companies made the game as well, including L.G. Ballard, who made a version of the game called “Star Checkers,” and Milton Bradley, who produced it the early 40’s.

Chinese Checkers could be played by two, three, four or six people. Each player started the game with a set of colored marbles (usually ten) that were gathered at one of the star’s points. The goal was to move all your pieces across the board and to the star point opposite you. A player could move his marble to an adjacent square, or hop his marble over other pieces, including those of his own color. This “jumping” movement was what tied the game to regular checkers, except unlike checkers, a player didn’t pick up the opponent’s pieces after jumping over them. In Chinese Checkers, all the marbles stayed on the board—and your enemies’ pieces were there not to collect, but to leap frog over. The beginning of each game held limited movement possibilities, but later, when the marbles reached the middle of the star, the jump lengths increased. Double jumps, triples, and on up…if you were the type who could see the big marble picture. The player to get all of his marbles across the board first was declared the winner.

Having fully entered "classic game" status, Chinese Checkers is played widely today. You can’t bark out “King Me!” like you can in traditional checkers, but that clack-clack-clack sound of your marbles jumping from spot to spot on that wood playing board is still pretty nice.

Release History of Toy

1928 - Chinese Checkers

Sub Categories of Toys

board games

Toy and Game Manufacturer

Pressman, Milton Bradley, various

Other Toy Links