Nine men's morris

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This is a defined set of rules for the game of Nine Mem's Morris, written having studied this game for the past fifteen years, both archaeologically and historically.

The Board

This consists of three successively smaller squares one inside each other with four connecting lines thus creating 24 points at junctions and corners.



It is a game for two players; each player starts the game with nine counters, each player having a different colour.

The Play

First phase

The game begins with each player taking turns to place one counter on one of the points continuing until all eighteen (each players nine) have been placed on the board. The object being for one player to try and form a straight line; following the lines marked on the board; of three counters (not diagonally or around a corner), this is called a ‘mill’ and allows the player to remove one of their opponents counters from the boards. There are only sixteen possible mill positions. The player can remove any counter with the only exception being counters that themselves form a mill. When all eighteen counters have been placed the game moves to the second phase of play.

Second phase

During this phase each player takes turns to move one counter from the point on which it is on to any free adjacent point following the lines marked on the board with the intention of forming a mill and thus be able to further remove an opponent’s counter, again excluding those themselves in a mill. One rule concerning this movement is that you cannot move a counter out of a mill and then immediately the next turn move it back into the same mill, you have to move an alternative counter before returning to that counter. If at any time you are entitled to remove an opponent’s counter and all theirs are in mills then you have to relinquish that opportunity. This continues until the game is won.


The game can be won in one of two ways, first by successfully removing seven of the opponents counters thus leaving them with only two and therefore unable to form a mill, the second way is to have moved your counters to surround your opponents counters such that during their turn they are unable to move a counter and therefore have to surrender (a much rarer outcome).


  1. There is no ‘jumping’ this is a later addition to the game.
  2. This is a wargame, with the intention of weakening your opponent so that they cannot fight back or surrounding them putting them in an untenable position.
  3. There are many variations on the game both in size and play but this represents the most likely game played during our period.
  4. I have kept these rules short to avoid any confusion. Any queries about the game feel free to ask me.

Seg Giddings of Hwicce.