Nine Men's Morris

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Nine Men's Morris is an abstract strategy board game for two players that emerged from the Roman Empire.[1] The game is also known as Nine Man Morris, Mill, Mills, Merels, Merelles, and Merrills in English.

Three Men's Morris, Six Men's Morris and Twelve Men's Morris are similar games; see below.


Rules of play

Each player has nine pieces, or "men", which move among the board's twenty-four spots. The object of the game is to leave the opposing player with fewer than three pieces or, as in checkers, no legal moves.

Placing the pieces

The game begins with an empty board. Players take turns placing their pieces on empty spots. If a player is able to form a row of three pieces along one of the board's lines, he has a "mill" and may remove one of his opponent's pieces from the board; removed pieces may not be placed again. Players must remove any other pieces first before removing a piece from a formed mill. Once all eighteen pieces have been used, players take turns moving.

Moving the pieces

To move, a player slides one of his pieces along a board line to an empty adjacent spot. If he cannot do so, he has lost the game.

As in the placement stage, a player who aligns three of his pieces on a board line has a mill and may remove one of his opponent's pieces, avoiding the removal of pieces in mills if at all possible.

Any player reduced to two pieces is unable to remove any more opposing pieces and thus loses the game.


In one common variation, once a player is reduced to three pieces, his pieces may "fly", "hop"[2][3] or "jump"[4] to any empty spots, not only adjacent ones. Some sources of the rules say this is the way the game is played,[3][4] some treat it as a variation,[2][5][6][7] and some don't mention it at all.[8] A '19th Century Games Manual' calls this the "truly rustic mode of playing the game".[2]

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