HALMA, a battle game in which your only weapon is your ability to plan ahead, was an extremely popular board game invented during the second half of the nineteenth century. Its name is derived from a Greek word meaning “to jump.” Played by both children and adults, Halma has the advantage of com¬bining very simple rules that can be learned in a few minutes with the strategic possibilities of moves found in Checkers and Chess.

In the game, each player tries to block, out-maneuver, and outwit his or her opponents and capture the opponent’s side of the board by occupying it with all of his or her own pieces. An early advertisement for Halma claimed:

It has, as a game, the advantage which Dr. Holmes attributes to rowing, as an athletic exercise-you can put into it just as much or as little strength as you choose. Children of eight or ten like it, and the most intellectual people of my acquaintance are delighted with it.In the United States, Halma was published by the Milton Bradley Company until 1889, when the Halma Company took over its production and sale.


  • OF PLAYERS.-Two, three, or four. The game is best played with either two or four players, each player playing for him- or herself. Four players can also play as partners, but three players must play separately, although in such a case a balanced game is difficult.
  • OBJECTIVE.-To move all of one’s own pieces into the “yard” diagonally across the board from one’s starting position. The first player or pair of players to achieve this objective wins the game.
  • MATE ut wt.s.-A square board divided into 256 squares, 16 by 16. Each corner of the board is separated by a line into a “yard” of 13 squares.

Two of the yards, diagonally opposite each other, contain an additional six squares, marked off by another line. These two yards with tq squares are used when two players play the game. When three or four players play, only the original 13 squares in each yard are used.