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!


kristin said...

i love the idea of being able to play this game outside on the sidewalk. looks interesting, thanks for sharing.

Gabriele Kubo said...

Dear Beth,

we call this game "Muehle", simply means "mill". Have to get it out again!
How nice that your husband has time to play with his boy! Seldom thing here in Japan......

Sharon Lovejoy said...

I love this!!! and I love the photo of the two of them deeply engrossed in their game.

Thanks for this dear Beth,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

P.S. I included two pages of native American games in my new book. I found them in old books years ago and one I discovered in a museum. Fascinating!

softearthart said...

Sounds like an interesting game, I have never heard of it. Cheers Marie

farmama said...

Hi Beth,
I've never heard of this game. Thanks for the lesson. I bet my sons will like it a lot, they love strategy games like chess.
Hope you are well!
sending love,

gardenmama said...

I have never heard of this game but I can imagine my son would enjoy it! Thank you for sharing this creativity!

larissa said...

So much fun! my boys love new games - and even create their own games or modify rules often. We will definitely try this game. Thanks for sharing - you are such a great mama.

OmMommy said...

Love this! Thanks for posting! Your blog is always such a joy to visit.

Appleshoe said...

Wow. Thank you. I know what Bear and I will be doing this weekend. (We have shut the TV off, probably for good; with the exception of the rare movie).