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Nine Men's Morris (Mills, Mill Game, Meres, Merelles, Morelles, Marelles, Ninepenny Marl, Cowboy Checkers)



Ancient, Medieval


Southern Asia, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe


Board, Space, Line.


Popular since at least the Roman Empire, Nine Men's Morris is an alignment game that is still played today. It appears in texts from Roman authors such as Ovid, and potentially may date to Hellenistic Greece.


Played on a board of three concentric squares, with a line bisecting the perimeters of each square on each side, but not extending inside the perimeter of the central square. Play occurs on the intersections of the lines and the corners of the squares. Each player has nine pieces. Play begins with each player placing pieces on empty points. If they make three in a row along the lines, they can remove one of the opponent's pieces. They cannot remove an opponent's piece that is in a three-in-a-row formation unless there are no other options. Once all pieces are placed, players take turns moving pieces one spot to an adjacent point along the lines. If a player makes three in a row, an opponent's piece is removed as in the first phase of the game. Once a player is reduced to three pieces, that player may move to any open space on the board. The game is won when the opponent is reduced to two pieces.

Murray 1951: 43.



Ludeme Description

Nine Men's Morris.lud


Murray 1951: 45–47

Evidence Map

5 pieces of evidence in total. Browse all evidence for Nine Men's Morris here.

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Berger, F. 2004. 'From circle to square to the image of the world: a possible interpretation of some petroglyphs of merel boards.' Rock Art Research 21: 11–25.

Golladay, S. M. n.d. Alfonso X’s Book of Games. Translated by Sonja Musser Golladay.

Kleiss, W. 1979. Bastam I: Ausgrabungen in den urartäischen anlagen 1972-1975. Berlin: Bergn. Mann Verlag.

Murray, H.J.R. 1951. A History of Board-Games Other Than Chess. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Rybina, E. 2007. 'Chess Pieces and Game Boards.' In M. Brisbane and J. Hather (eds), Wood Use in Medieval Novgorod. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 354–359.




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