This site is for anybody, including stargazers. What else are they going to do on a cloudy night other than play Star Checkers, also known as "Chinese Checkers?"
Perhaps this game is nostalgic for you too, due to perhaps your grandparents having brought out such a board from under their sofa during Holiday family gatherings.
It's an awesome board game that perfectly accommodates 2, 3, 4, & 6 players. Why not five? Well, five can theoretically play, but then it's not perfectly balanced or fair.
These game boards can be some of the most visually striking of any board game out there! The six pointed star's area is basically comprised of 12 equilateral triangles, six of which are disguised within the central hexagonal "field of play." The star usually consists of 121 holes or divots to hold either pegs or usually marbles. Since each player plays with 10 marbles, there are only 61 vacant holes or divots during 6 player contests, making the hexagonal area congested during mid-phase of game.
I'm usually a traditionalist when it comes to the rules of play, especially with a game as classic as this one; therefore, I'm not one to be easily swayed from the original rules of any game, but this case is definitely an exception. I've adopted a slight variation, or enhancement rather, to the rules of play. As far as I'm concerned, it's the only way to play Star Checkers for optimal appreciation of the game. Are you ready to learn it? If so, please continue to read below:
Each player plays with ten marbles. The starting position for the ten marbles is within one of the equilateral triangles, consisting of 10 divots/holes, which constitutes one of the six points of the star. Upon start and completion of a game or contest, each 10 marbles set is inherently arranged in a bowling pin configuration. No extra marbles should be anywhere on the star during play of game. In other words, the number of marbles in play on the entire board should equal the number of players times ten. Unlike the game of Checkers, no pieces (marbles) are ever removed from the Star Checkers board. Each player's marbles are distinguished from other players' marbles by their color. For contests consisting of 2, 4, or 6 players, each player is always playing opposite of one other player. For three players, each player is initially playing opposite of an empty triangle. In other words, upon start and completion of the three player contest, the 30 total marbles are collectively situated within every other equilateral triangle or star-point. This allows for balanced play over the entire star/board. Each game or contest is basically a race. The object of the game is for each player to relocate his or her 10 marbles from the closest triangle to the opposite triangle before the other player(s) does/do the same from their respective triangle(s). To determine which player or marble color starts the game, one of the players can mix or jumble marbles, one from each player, within his or her closed cupped hands to then allow another player to draw one marble from his or her hand. Players' turns are in the usual clockwise rotation. Due to the nature of permitted moves, each player's first move will emanate from either the first row, consisting of four marbles, or the second row, consisting of three marbles. For each turn, each player moves only one marble. There are basically two types of moves: a one-step move, or a jump move. For the one step move, a player can move anyone of his or her 10 marbles in any direction, but only to an adjacent vacant hole, as long as such hole is not located within one of the four triangles that neither constitutes the triangle the player is vacating nor the triangle the player is destined. Obviously, any vacant adjacent hole within the central hexagon is always fair game. For the jump move, which is sometimes a succession of multiple jumps within a single turn, a player may have one of his or her marbles jump over ANY (including opponents') adjacent marble in any line-directed angle or direction per jump, as long as each jump is over one marble at a time. Now, this is where the rule variation I alluded to earlier on this web-page potentially comes into play. Each jump, even within a secession of multiple jumps within a single turn, may vary in length. In other words, each stationary marble jumped over by the jumping marble does not necessarily have to be immediately adjacent to the marble jumping over it, as long as it is the only marble jumped over per leap, not per turn. For example, a marble may also jump a marble two or more holes away, as long as the marble doing the jumping can land an equal distance of holes beyond the stationary marble it jumped over. In other words, each stationary marble being jumped over must bisect the distance of the jumping marble's leap. If you have your marble jump another marble three holes away, your marble must land in the third hole beyond the marble that was jumped over. This requires the holes on either side of the marble that is jumped over to be vacant, accordingly. Obviously, the opportunity for such super jumps are increasingly limited per the increased number of additional permitted players. A complex multiple jump move within a single turn may allow a marble to pass through any triangle, as many times necessary per turn, as long as the turn doesn't end with the jumping marble resting in any one of the four respectively forbidden triangles mentioned earlier. Got it? Now, go get yourself a board and play!
First of all, the larger the board, the better it is, to an extent, for accommodating four or especially six players; however, it's not so much the overall size of the board that matters, but rather the actual size of the star itself. I judge the size of the star based on the center spacing between adjacent holes. That's the distance from the center of one hole to the center of the next adjacent hole. If the board is precision made, the hole spacing will be exactly consistent. The spacing on the boards pictured on this site is about 1.375", which translates into an exceptionally large star/board. Spacing ranging from 1.125" to 1.25" is more typical and adequate, especially 1.25", which is ideal. The largest spacing I've seen is 1.5", which is a board that is at least 24" in diameter if it's a circular board. Too large of a board can make reaching across it rather awkward or uncomfortable.
Okay, the second quality I look for is whether or not the board has directional lines between the holes. They are not essential, but are beneficial to beginners just learning the game.
The third characteristic I look for is for the central hexagon to be distinctly colored from the triangles. Also, I prefer the dividing line between the central hexagon and the adjoining triangles to be about half way between the rows of holes flanking the divide and not along a directional line.
The boards pictured on this web page feature all of these characteristics I look for in any Star Checkers game board. These boards were custom made by a craftsman (not me), and they are some of the best Star Checkers game boards I've ever seen.
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