The Rules of Halma
The Rules of Chinese Checkers
of the game:
"What is unique about HALMA, CHINESE CHECKERS,...., is that the game play consists of jumping pieces--your opponents and your own--without removing the jumped pieces from the board; moves to adjacent spaces without a jump are also allowed." (Bruce Whitehill)
Strategy guide (from WikiBooks Chinese Checkers strategy guide) by Darren A. ChiltonOpening Moves
Knowledge of openings is very important to playing Chinese Checkers well -- similar to chess. In play among experienced players there are only a few openings that are commonly seen. Although there are 14 possible first moves (7 if you eliminate symmetrical moves for the first player), experienced players play only two.
By far the most common first move is to move one of the two marbles on either end of front row of the four forward marbles one space forward and towards the center (as illustrated by green in the picture). This is the first move of the two most common openings the "sidewinder" and "cross caterpillar", there are many other less common openings.
A much less common first move sometimes played by advanced players is to move one of the marbles in the front row one space forward and away from the centerline (the red marbles in the picture nearby show these moves). This first move leads into "Squad's opening" and other similar openings.
Get as far as possible
One of the most basic strategies of the game is, of course, to get as far as possible. However, during play, it is not always the best move to go to the very end of a jump; sometimes you have to block your opponent. Although they may not like this, it is a real advantage to block them. Of course if you imagine a computer player, they will do this automatically if they think one extra move ahead!
Keep moves near a center line
If you split up your pieces at the wrong moment you'll find that you will be left with a lonesome piece that will take you a lot of wasted moves to get to the end. Also, there are always more pieces in the center line than near the edges. So keeping your pieces near the center line is an important advantage as you can always move your pieces.
Get into the goal area
If you have your pieces inside the goal area, it is also easier to feed following pieces in. The two outer edges seem to be more of an advantage. Often you may shuffle the pieces inside the goal to get more in, but don't overdo it; you have to get the external pieces in the shortest number of moves.
The piece furthest away from goal
This is a major help in play. You should always check your last piece because it can quite rapidly become stranded and you will lose the game. Basically, before making a move always check if you can get the last piece up.
What is the shortest possible game of Chinese Checkers?In 1979, David Fabian found a complete game of two-person Chinese Checkers in 30 moves (15 by each player) [Martin Gardner, Penrose Tiles to Trapdoor Ciphers, MAA, 1997]. This solution requires that the two players cooperate to generate a win as quickly as possible for one of them. The 15-move game begins with 10 men on each side.
Gardner also talks about the fastest way to transport one set of 10 men to the opposite side of the board (a 1 player version of the game) and gives a solution in 27 moves. This solitaire version was found by Octave Levenspiel in 1971.
George I. Bell has published a paper where he proves these findings mathematically and by help of a computer game:
INTEGERS: ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF COMBINATORIAL NUMBER THEORY 9 (2009), #G01: SHORTEST GAME OF CHINESE CHECKERS AND RELATED PROBLEMS (PDF)