Number of players
Chinese checkers may be played by 2, 3, 4 or 6 players.
The chinese checkers board is shaped like a star with 6 points. Each player starts the game with 10 marbles filling all 10 spaces in their point of the star. This is their home point. The color of the player’s marbles matches the color of their home point. Sometimes pegs or other types of playing pieces are used instead of marbles.
When 2 players play, they set up in points opposite each other. When 3 play, one empty point is left between each player. When 4 play, each player must be directly opposite an opponent. Five players cannot play since the game will not be balanced. That is, one player would be opposite an empty point.
The object of the game is to move all your marbles into the point of the star directly opposite your home point. The player that does this first is the winner.
Starting the game
Players decide among themselves who will start. When only two players are playing, players may flip a coin to decide who starts. Some boards are actually capable of spinning, depending on the company that makes the board. If this is the case with your board, you can use it pick the starting player. Place a single peg in any given slot and spin the board. Players take turns, clockwise.
Moving and jumping
The player may move one marble to any adjacent space. Or the player may jump over an adjacent marble to the space immediately past that marble. A player may make as many consecutive jumps during the same play as is possible. Marbles may be moved in any direction. The player can jump over any colored marble.
Unlike checkers, players do not capture a marble when they jump over it. Nothing happens to the marble that was jumped over. No marbles are removed from the board during the game.
Once a marble has entered the destination point, that is, the point directly opposite the home point, it may not be moved out of that point. It can only move within that point.
For what it’s worth, there are a lot of similar games you can play online like roulette, bingo or craps, all of which you can read more about. Nevertheless, if you want to play Chinese checkers, the best thing to do is to watch the video below for a visual explanation of how to jump marbles and play the game.
The main variation for Chinese checkers is Super Chinese checkers. This setup allows for much bigger hops/jumps and is also known as Fast Chinese Checkers. The idea is to try to finish the game quicker. The basic rules are the same. But when it comes to jumps, the pegs do not have to be adjacent. However far away the peg to be jumped over is, there must be an equal number of empty spaces behind it. This is why you really have to pay more attention to what’s available to you and your opponent for potential moves. Depending on house rules as well, you might or might not be able to jump 2 pegs that are adjacent in line. In the standard rules, you cannot make such a jump.
For example, you may see your own peg two spaces away from the peg you want to move. With the standard rules, the peg you want to move is a “stray”. But with Super Chinese Checkers, as long as there are two empty spaces on the opposite side of the peg to be jumped over, it’s a valid move. The actual distance doesn’t matter as long the spaces are all empty. You could very well get to the other side of the board with a single hop!!
Next, take that same example and imagine more pegs in between each other. Yes, you can hop over pegs as in the standard rules. But if a peg at a distance manages to line up as well for a longer hop, it’s all still within the same hop/single move of the peg you moved.
Another variation is playing multiple sides, when there are only two players, at the same time. Each player can play up to three sides at the same time. This makes for a much slower but much more difficult game. You not only have to track your own and your opponent’s moves as good strategy, but now you have to do so with up to three sides of pegs. This is a variation that really requires you to pay attention. And while trying to move your own pegs, make sure you don’t block yourself!
There are versions of Chinese checkers available for both the iOS and Android devices. As of this writing, only the Android version was tested. The Android version listed here happens to be the highest rated Chinese checkers game for the platform. It uses the Super Chinese Checkers variation. And yes, the AI is quite good. The AI is designed to find the largest hops it can make at any given time. When you try the normal difficulty mode or higher, be prepared to see some serious long distance moves!