Skip to Top of Page Skip to Navigation Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer

How to Play Chinese Checkers

Maddy Marcus / April 9, 2020
How to Play Chinese Checkers

Whether you are playing with one friend or with five, Chinese Checkers can be a challenging game for any player. While learning how to play Chinese Checkers can be intimidating, it is an extremely fun time once you learn how to play. The board looks like a six pointed star, with each player presiding over a triangle of marbles or pegs. The object of the game is simple: to get your colored marbles or pegs to the opposite side of the board. 

The rules broadly stay the same, no matter how many players are involved. When you’ve got more than three players, the players are separated by an empty triangle and you move clockwise when taking turns. 

These pieces can move across the board in a number of ways, but you can only move one piece at a time. Players can move into the next adjacent space or even jump over marbles that are right next to them. Once you’ve got all your pieces out of your triangle, the race is on to get them to the opposite side of the board, before the other players. 

Chinese Checkers Tactics

Keep it together. This is one of the most basic yet important concepts when learning how to play Chinese Checkers. One of the simplest strategies involves keeping your marbles close together as you move them across the board. Keep your marbles together, with limited spaces separating them. This sets you up for some quick hops over other marbles as you advance across the board. Bunching your marbles together means you can move the board at a quicker pace, but move strategically! You don’t want to leave any marbles behind.

Block others out. When taking on other players, you should do all you can to spoil their movements across the board, while also being aware of what other players may do to limit your movements. Blocking, or spoiling, involves a player leaving one of their marbles in their home triangle. This automatically takes up a spot the opponent is aiming for, thus spoiling their chances of winning. 

Move in the middle. When playing Chinese Checkers, it can be tempting to use the whole board, but it’s best to keep things centered. Avoid moving too far left or right and keep those marbles down the middle. As much as it’s one of the most effective ways of playing, it’s likely that your opponent will be playing in a similar way and this can make for a very exciting battle across the middle of the board. 

The Benefits of Learning How to Play Chinese Checkers 

Chinese Checkers involves a good amount of analytical thinking. There are tactics to consider, as well as how the other player may play. The game is also in constant evolution, with players having to react to how the other player moves their marbles. Constantly checking the play strategy and best routes across the board is an important part of learning how to play Chinese Checkers.

Depending how the game is going, it can also teach important problem solving skills. Games can quickly descend into tight matches where marbles are snarled up in the middle of the board. Once the obvious moves run out, players have to consider how they can escape the traffic jams. It teaches the importance of evaluating your surroundings and planning ahead. If your opponent moves one way, how will you respond?

Where to Play Chinese Checkers

Chinese Checkers might be a game that’s more than 120 years old, but it’s still as fun as ever. Best of all, learning how to play Chinese Checkers takes very little time! Want to get some practice in? You can play for free at Coolmath Games. You can test your mettle against the computer or other players! And you can also explore similar games - such as Checkers, Chess, or Four In A Row. All of these games are a fun way to get some mental exercise.