Chinese Checkers aren’t from China

I have been working on an artist’s book for the March #areyoubookenough_hexagon challenge on Instagram. It includes a game of Chinese Checkers.

In doing some research I discovered that Chinese Checkers are not Chinese at all.

From the Wikipedia entry:

Despite its name, the game is not a variation of checkers, nor did it originate in China or any part of Asia (whereas the game 象棋 xiangqi, or “Chinese chess”, is from China). The game was invented in Germany in 1892 under the name “Stern-Halma” as a variation of the older American game Halma.[6] The “Stern” (German for star) refers to the board’s star shape (in contrast to the square board used in Halma).

If you would like to play Stern-Halma and don’t own a board, you can print a small version. (This is the smaller board used in Japan and Korea.) Download either Chinese Checkers Colour or Chinese Checkers B&W and print. You will need to use either the ‘Fit to page’ setting or the ‘Center’ setting, depending on your printer. The files will print on either A4 or 8.5 x 11″ stock. If you print on card stock your board will be more durable, but regular copy paper is fine. The black and white version is suitable for hand-colouring.

Playing pieces can be made from a variety of things you likely already have around the house: buttons, beans, washers, coins, Chinese lucky stars folded from magazine pages… (The Chinese lucky stars were the easiest to handle when playing. You can find instructions for folding them here.)

If you are using white beans, you can colour them with felt pen, or watercolours, or even nail polish if you have some distinctly different colours. I marked some navy beans with felt pen. (They were somewhat difficult to handle. A larger bean, like a white kidney bean, would be better.)

You will need a minimum of six pieces —and a maximum of ten— per player. Set up six pieces like this. If you have ten, you can fill the next row as well. Decide the order of play by flipping a coin.

The object of the game is to move all of your pieces from their home triangle to the same colour triangle on the opposite side of the board. Pieces may only be moved along the paths indicated by the diagonal lines on the board. The two possible first moves if starting with the centre piece are shown below.

When a path is blocked by an opponent’s piece or pieces, you may jump them.

Opponent’s pieces may be jumped, as in checkers, but the jumped piece stays in place.

This jump is not allowed.

The winner is the first to get all their pieces in their opposing triangle.

For a more detailed introduction to the rules of play, read the Wikihow article (with illustrations, the Wikipedia article, or watch any of the multiple instruction videos.

In other book arts news:

I finished G is for Geography this week. (No, really, this time I did finish it!) It has joined other works in the map case and I am currently contemplating which of several works I will make next. The photo below is one of a series I took while I was deciding on the final positions of the stamps.


If you would like to tackle binding a book with multiple signatures, Karen Hanmer has kindly made available a downloadable copy of Agatha Christie’s first published novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

This might be just the time to tackle the project.

In knitting news:

I completed another silk scarf this week, using noil silk singles that I had hand plied. I knit most of the scarf plain, then finished with a pattern that is part of the border of Dee O’Keefe’s Ruxton Shawl. Here’s the O’Keefe pattern,

and here is the border of my version.

If you are a knitter and are looking for projects, O’Keefe is currently giving away three free shawl patterns (in different weights) as her community gesture of solidarity with other knitters. You can pick your patterns here.

About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than twenty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004.
This entry was posted in artist's books, book arts, bookbinding, DIY, free printable, instructions, knitting and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Chinese Checkers aren’t from China

  1. barleybooks says:

    Oh what a beautiful scarf! And when I can play with my grandson again we will colour-in the board and play Chinese Checkers. You are so generous; thank you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.