This week at our adult’s club we played Chinese Chequers. This is not a game which can be traced back to Ancient China: it was invented in 1893 in Germany. It was originally called ‘Stern-Halma’ as a variation on the older American game of Halma. ‘Stern’ means ‘Star’ as the game board looks like a six-point star, and ‘Halma’ comes from the Greek word to ‘jump’. In 1928 a marketing scheme in the USA saw ‘Stern-Halma’ renamed as Chinese Checkers. In the UK we use the spelling Chequers.
We played a two-player game, although the game can be played by up to 6. The winner is the first player to move all their pieces from their home point to the opposite point of the star. Movement is either by step or by jump. A step is from one point to the next point along a line. A jump is along a line, and can be over your own pieces or your opponent’s pieces. Steps and jumps cannot be combined. The strategy is to build ladders so you can move your pieces quickly across the board. We also discovered a nice way of zigzagging along a straight line of pieces.
We followed this game with Five Field Kono, a lovely replacement game from Korea. As with Chinese Chequers the winner is the first player to move all their pieces from their side to the opposite side of the board. There is no jumping over or capturing, just pure movement in space as each player moves one piece from an intersection to the next empty intersection. Players can move forwards and backwards, and will at some point have to move backwards when the other player blocks their path.
We had a few minutes left at the end, so we played Brainline, a 4 in a row game, and Picaria, a 3 in a row game.