That’s right. You heard me. The popular game we all remember from our childhood is called by a name that is altogether mythical and misleading. It did not, as its name suggests originate in China (or anywhere in Asia, for that matter) nor is it a variation on checkers. We here at Monkey Pod games want to shed light on the true history of this fun and exciting game of strategy. The game was actually invented in Germany in 1892. It was originally called “Stern-Halma” and was an adaptation of the older American game Halma invented by a Boston surgeon named Dr. George Howard Monks sometime between 1883 and 1884. The word “stern” in German means star, referring to the star-shape of the board, in contrast to the square board of the Halma.
So where did the name Chinese Checkers come from you ask? A popular game manufacturer first published the exact same Star-Halma game in the United States in 1928. Two brothers at the company made up the name “Chinese Checkers” shortly thereafter as a marketing strategy intended to appeal to America’s growing interest in all things oriental (this was around the same time as the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 and the introduction of “mah jongg” in 1923). In the 1930s, a Chinese Checkers craze swept across the nation with several other manufacturers starting to make the game. It did not even reach China until more than a decade later, most likely brought there by the Japanese.
Now you are ready to impress everyone with your vast knowledge of the true history of Chinese Checkers. Simply gather your friends and family around our beautiful wooden version of this game and casually ask everyone if they know why it is called Chinese Checkers. We bet they’ll be so intrigued by your myth-busting facts, no one will even notice as you quickly jump over their pieces and make your way to home base. Dr. Monks would be so proud!
Source: History of Halma and Chinese Checkers