Monday, March 15, 2010
How to Play Nine Man Morris
Nine Man Morris is an ancient game over 3,000 years old. An interpreter at Mystic Seaport told me about it. It was played by American Indians from the Inuit to the Pre-Columbians, by the vikings, the Ancient Egyptians, and early Europeans. There are different designs you can use for the board, but we chose this one. (Use google to find other versions.) My seven-year-old and I drew the lines on a piece of scrap masonite using a silver uni-pen and colored them in with markers. You can use paper and pen, chalk and a sidewalk, or whatever you want. You could make a beautiful game with a wood burning set and a nice piece of wood.
We decided to play Nine Man Morris, (there are variations for twelve, six, or three men.) We picked nine acorn caps and nine tiny snail shells for the playing pieces.
Take turns placing your men on the intersections of the lines.
As you go, try to form "mills." A mill is three men in a straight line. See the illustration below. Every time you get a mill, you get to remove one of your opponent's men for the rest of the game. Even if you make two mills at the same time, you can only take away one of your opponent's men. When removing one of your opponent's men, don't take a man out one of his mills unless there is no alternative.
Once you have placed all your men, take turns moving them along the lines of the board. You may only move one space per turn, and you may not hop over pieces. Keep trying to make mills! You win if you surround your opponent so that he can no longer move, or when he only has two remaining men.
It sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? But it is actually a wonderful game of strategy, and you will discover its levels of complexity as you play. My husband was fascinated. My son could hardly stop laughing! Let me know if you have any questions!