Halma Help  

[Help Contents]

[Game Help Contents]


Halma is a strategic game dating from the early 1880's, invented by George Howard Monks. The game is played on a square board which is typically 8x8 or 10x10 for two-player games (here at Pocket-Monkey we use the larger 10x10 board), with each player having 15 pieces. The idea is to move your pieces across the board into your camp before your opponent does. (Note the similarity to "Chinese Checkers" [which is neither Chinese, nor is it Checkers]. In fact, "Chinese Checkers" is just the American name for a game called "Star Halma" which is a four- or six-player version of Halma on a star-shaped board.)



Move all of your pieces across the board into your camp before your opponent does. In the normal case, you win by getting all of your pieces into your camp before your opponent gets their pieces into their camp. However, if your opponent leaves some pieces sitting in your camp, you can still win by filling all of the spaces in your target camp that your opponent isn't occupying.


  • Layout
    The game is played on a 10x10 board which has three parts: Your camp in the upper left-hand corner; your opponent's camp in the lower right-hand; and no-man's land in-between. The squares making up the camps are shown in a solid color with either a lighter ("white") or darker ("black") star (lighter for Player 1's camp, darker for Player 2's), like this:

    The Halma Board (with no pieces on it)
    The Halma Board (with no pieces on it), seen from Player 1's perspective

    Each player has 15 pieces, which start out arranged in the opponent's camp, like so:

    Halma Starting Layout (from Player 1's perspective)
    Halma Starting Layout, seen from Player 1's perspective

  • Movement
    There are two ways you can move in Halma: Either just move your piece to an adjacent unoccupied spot, or jump over an adjacent piece to a blank square on the other side. (Note that in Halma, you can jump both your opponent's pieces and your own.) You can move or jump in any direction, including backward. If you move, you can only move one space and that's the end of your turn. If you jump, though, you can keep jumping as long as you still have jumps you can make with that piece. (Unlike some games, you're not required to jump if you can; you can either jump or move, whichever you like, and if you jump you can stop jumping any time you like, even if there are more jumps available.)

    Here's an example of a piece moving, in this case a white piece moving diagonally upward and to the right -- because this is a move, not a jump, it can only move one square and that's the end of the player's turn:

    A Halma piece moving

    Here's an example of a piece making two jumps and then stopping, even though the player could have kept jumping if desired (because there's another black piece available to jump):

    A Halma piece jumping twice and stopping

    Note that pieces are never "captured" or taken off the board in Halma, even when they're jumped.

    Also note that jumping is never required, it's always optional.

  • Winning
    To win, get all of your pieces across the board into your camp before your opponent does. Normally, that means getting all of your pieces into your camp, but you can still win if your opponent leaves pieces behind in your camp; in that case, you only have to fill the empty spaces in your camp to win.

  • Passing
    You cannot pass your turn if you can move or jump. If your opponent has all possible moves and jumps blocked (which is fairly unlikely), then you must pass your turn.

  • Draws
    It's possible, but very unlikely, for Halma games to end in a draw and so the site shows the Offer Draw button. Don't offer a draw unless you genuinely believe that the game is a draw -- e.g., that neither of you can win. If your opponent offers a draw and you don't agree, simply decline the draw to send the game back to your opponent.

  • Moving Out of Your Camp
    Most rules don't describe any limits on where you can move or jump, and so there are no such limits here on Pocket-Monkey -- you can move or jump with any piece, at any time (provided the piece can move or jump at all, and it's your turn!). Some people believe that once you have a piece in your camp, you shouldn't be allowed to move it out of your camp again. Because most rules don't describe any such limitation, we don't use it here at Pocket-Monkey.

  • Moving Out of Your Opponent's Camp Within X Turns
    Some online sites have added a rule to Halma saying that you must get all of your pieces out of your opponent's camp within X turns (typically 50 turns on a 10x10 board, 30 for an 8x8 board). We don't use this rule at Pocket-Monkey, because it's not a rule you'd be likely to use sitting across the table from your opponent (e.g., you wouldn't count turns). Instead, we use the rule saying that you only have to occupy all of the unoccupied spaces in your camp to win. That way, your opponent can't keep you from winning by keeping a piece back in your camp (which is what the turn limit is trying to prevent). This rule appears on some non-online-site rules pages for Halma, and is a more natural style of play.