‘Chinese Checkers’ sure is a funny name for a board game that comes from Germany and has nothing to do with checkers.
There is a bit of historical uncertainty about the origins of the modern game. Most sources can agree that it first appeared as a game called “Hoppity,” which was popular in Great Britain in the latter part of the 19th century. Like Chinese Checkers, the game allowed for more than two players (in this case, four) each playing from the corner of the board.
Hoppity (which, by the way, is the most 1890’s British name for a board game imaginable) eventually made its way to Germany, where it abandoned its British squareness and adopted a six-pointed star for a board. Dubbed “Stern-Halma” (“Halma” being the German name for Hoppity, and “Stern” being “star”) modern Chinese Checkers was born.
But it wasn’t Chinese yet. It would be until the American toy company Pressman Co., obsessed with the “Oriental mystique” and more than a bit racist, released their version of Stern-Helma under the name “Hop Ching Checkers.”