Original game - England, 1880s

Halma starts on a 16x16 board with the following setup:

  • BASE - The player's base is the set of cells occupied by his stones before the game starts.
  • MOVE - On each turn, each player moves one of his stones. A stone may:
    • Move to an adjacent (orthogonal or diagonal) empty cell
      • However, if a stone is inside the enemy base, it cannot be moved out of the base, but may move within the base.
    • Jump another adjacent stone of either color, landing on the immediate empty cell. 
      • Jumps are multiple, a jumping stone may continue to jump a different stone if it possible. A stone may jump the same piece several times in a jumping sequence. 
      • Jumps are not mandatory.
      • Jumps do not capture, there are no captures in Halma.
  • GOAL - Wins the first player that moves at least one of his stones to the enemy base, while that base is totally occupied.

The goal is stated this way to prevent that players keep some of their stones on their own base, to achieve trivial draws. However, other trivial draws are still possible, check the second example. In this case, a further fix to the goal must be added. A proposal from David Ploog is the following:

"A player wins if he cannot move any of his stones nearer to the opposing corner and if all of his stones left his base."

Then he adds: [...] use "nearer" with respect to geometric distance of cells. So if one player has a piece trapped while his opponent doesn't, then he may as well resign. If both players have pieces trapped the games is drawn because neither of them will open a path for his opponent. In any case it is a bad idea to keep pieces behind on purpose. [...] The aesthetic point is this: When you declare a game as won when the base is full (regardless of inhabitants) you cover still not all possibilities. Hence there's need of another rule. But I tried to state this additional in such a way that it also covers ordinary games.

Ralf Gering notes: I would like to describe another solution to the problem which is known in Germany for at least half a century: "If one player has left his base, the other player must also leave his base (or move towards the exit of his base). Other moves are not permitted." The beauty of this solution is that the original winning condition of Halma remains unchanged.

A Jumping sequence

The black marked stone can jump over one or more stones. The numbers show a possible jumping sequence until cell [4]. 

Trivial draw strategy

If Black uses the marked stone to move to the cell with the red dot, and then back, White is totally unable to win the game.


There is a ZRF to play Halma and (Chinese Checkers) with Zillions, both games are included in the Zillions original game set.

Wayne Schmittberger in New Rules for Classic Games, refers a variant called Super Halma, where a stone jumps at any distance, provided that the jumped stone lies at the exact midpoint of the jump (this jump rule is popular in France). Another well known variant, played on a star-shaped board, is Chinese Checkers (btw, the game is not Chinese - it's German (or Sweden...)- and it's not even a variant of Checkers :-)

Another curious variant of Halma, is Top Secret, where each player drops in turns their 18 stones on the central 6x6 square area of the 16x16 board. Then, after all drops were made, the goal is to be the first to remove all stones moving or jumping over the board.

A simple variation is Le Grec (by Dominique Huguenin and Yves Chédel) played in the next diagram. The rules: (1) Move one friendly stone (orthogonal or diagonal) to an empty cell, or jump over an enemy stone (no jumps over friendly stones) landing on the immediate next cell. Every move/jump must be forwards or sideways never backwards. (2) Wins the player that moves his stones to the last two rows. 

Renpaarden is played on a 9x9 square board: Both players start with the first two rows filled with friendly stones (so, 18 stones each). Stones  move like chess knights: either to an empty square, which ends the turn, or to a square with an opponent piece. In the latter case, the piece must make another jump or jumps (there is no capturing) until it lands on an empty cell. Winner is who has all his stones at the two rows at the opposite of the board. Check wag's page.

Le Zug is played on the following 17x17 board. Below is a initial setup (the stones on the second row can be placed at any column where they are diagonally adjacent to the first row stones). Stones move diagonally forward and can jump diagonally over stones of either color (jumps can be multiple and are not mandatory). A piece which performs a jumping move, whether single or multiple, is allowed to make an additional diagonal step. All steps and jumps are forward only. The first four rows of each side is considered the camp of that player.  No piece may be moved into an enemy camp while their are still friendly pieces in their own. Wins the player that first occupies the last row, and place the remaining three stones at the penultimate row.

According to L. Lynn Smith the title appears to be an amalgamate of French and German. Its meaning "The Course".

Carrera de Caballos, from Héctor Canteros, is played on the next board, where pieces move like non-capture chess Knights, i.e., they jump to one of the nearest cells not in the same column or row.  

Check also Hexma (by Cameron Browne) a variant of Chinese Checkers with a connection touch: "a player wins by completing a chain of their pieces between their home and away board edges"  (it should be use one of the mechanisms explained above to remove drawish strategies). The same game on a typical hex board:

Caeser game is an old variant (c.1900) when Halma was a game with lots of followers. Here are the board and the rules taken from GARD, the gamesboard database:

Each player places their 17 stones into his half of the board (only the central three cells start empty) and try to move his army to the other side. Pieces may not move backwards and a blocked player must pass his turn.