Chinker-Chek Adds Local History To Olde Glory Days


Chinese Checkers is a board game of European origin that can be played by two to six people, competing individually or with partners. A version of the game, called Chinker-Chek, “The Game For All Ages,” was developed and manufactured in Clinton by Lawrence W. Brown.
On Friday and Saturday of Olde Glory Days, July 5 and 6, the Henry County Museum is hosting a Chinker-Chek tournament in the museum’s Adair Annex, 203 W. Franklin.There is no cost to enter and no pre-registration required for the tournament, which will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. both days. There will be prizes.
The idea of the tournament is to add a bit of local history to the annual Clinton Fourth of July celebration, now in its 31st year. It also arose as an alternative to tours of the ante-bellum Dorman House, which is in the final stages of a renovation and may not be ready for visitors, according to museum director Susan Jones-Hard. Members of the Henry County Historical Society, which operates the museum, hope the tournament will bring people into the museum annex, which is air-conditioned.
There will be no entry fee to the gallery/meeting room of the annex, and discount coupons will be available for those who want to tour the other rooms of the museum in adjacent buildings.
Lawrence W. Brown (1881 - 1960) of Brown Manufacturing, Clinton, Mo., is one of three Americans credited with creating the fad for Chinese Checkers in this country. Brown started experimenting with a variation of the game in 1935, and filed for a patent in 1937, but his and other applications were never granted, due to the similarity of the game to existing games.
The Henry County Museum has a newspaper article with a photograph of Clark Gable and Vivian Lee playing Chinker-Chek during a break from filming “Gone with the Wind,” in 1939. The game was also played by members of the armed forces during WWII. That game can be played by up to six people made it popular in situations where there were an odd number of people, and you didn’t have fourth to play four-handed card games.
Chinese Checkers is played with marbles on a six-sided star. The points of the star are different colors, corresponding to the colors of the marbles of each player. Each player has 10 marbles, placed in holes in one of the star points. The object is to be the first player to move your marbles across the board to the opposite triangle, either by moving a marble to the next open space or jumping an opponent’s marble. The marbles may be moved in any direction on a line, and the players may jump their own or others’ marbles. Unlike Checkers, the jumped marbles are not removed from the board.
A vintage Chinker-Chek board made by Brown Manufacturing, described as two-sided with a “great patina” and “lovingly worn,” sold on for $45, without marbles. A checkerboard was painted on the back.
Brown sourced his marbles from West Virginia for the 4,000 boards that were manufactured and shipped daily from Clinton. The game, initially marketed mainly on the East Coast and in the upper Midwest, was popular in the United States into the 1950s.
Olde Glory Days 2024 is July 3 through July 7. Most activities are on the Clinton Square, 200 S. Main St., Clinton, MO 64735. There will be live music on the main stage on the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m every night. Bring a lawn chair.
Wednesday, July 3: Delisa Dawn and Route 66 playing Western Swing, Classic Country and Gospel)
Thursday July 4: Eastern Heights playing America country and variety band music.
Friday, July 5: Brass Rewind, a jazz and rock horn band.
Saturday, July 6, The Rock Gods, a tribute band to rock and roll stars.
For more information about the Chinker-Chek tournament, call the Henry County Museum, 660-885-8414.