Posted by: briellethefirst | February 12, 2011

Merelles or 9 Man Morris

9 Man Morris

9 Man Morris

9MM, aka Merelles

9MM, aka Merelles

12 Man Morris

12 Man Morris

3 Man Morris

3 Man Morris

Andrew is good at puzzles, likes playing in invisible boxes (mime) and is trying to learn games. So far we’ve learned rock/paper/scissors, I spy with my little eye, shut box, checkers, dominoes and tic-tac-toe. He just turned 6 and his biggest problem has been a temper when he thinks he’s loosing. He’s starting to understand that a setback is a learning opportunity and loosing a move or two doesn’t mean you’re losing the game. No matter, tonight we discovered he’s a wiz at 9 Man Morris. Look out world!

What is 9 man morris? It’s an ancient form of tic-tac-toe, only more interesting. There are several versions. 9 holes, tic tac toe, 5 man morris, 9 man morris and 12 man morris. In tic tac toe you know the rules, 3 in a row etc… In the others you play on an expanded board with ea. player usually starting with the number of pieces in the title of the game. The markers/pieces can be stones, checkers, coins, whatever happens to be handy. Players take turns entering pieces on the  points on the board trying to make a mil (3 in  a row). Every time a player makes a mil they get to remove an opponent’s piece. A mil is 3 in a row. If there’s a choice of taking from an opponent’s mil or set of 2 or a single marker they must take from a non-mil first. Once all pieces are entered on the board players can start moving pieces along the lines to form more mils. Play continues until one player either gets down to 2 pieces or their pieces are blocked and can’t move, then that player has just lost. So…

1 board, 2 players, 9 markers each. Take turns and play nice! I know I have a 9 holes, 5 man morris and a 12 man morris board around somewhere, I just can’t lay hand on them just now. 9 holes is just a square divided into 9 parts with a tic tac toe grid, or tic tac toe with a box drawn around it. The 5 man morris is just like the 9 man morris but without the 3rd outer square.

Morris games have been found scratched into stones making up ancient monuments in Egypt, Greece and Rome as well as beams in European castles and cathedrals built in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Since it was known to the Romans it was certainly played in King Arthur’s time and possibly before the Romans got to Britain, which is why it’s included in my Arthur category. It seems it was an easy pass-time that was easily improvised during lunch or while waiting for someone to happen before your part of the building went up. It can be a fun way to get in touch with a part of history and it’s certainly more entertaining than regular old tic tac toe. Whether you make it yourself or find a commercial set to buy, have fun!


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