little bit of history
is probably one of the oldest games still played today.
Boards have been found in and on many historic buildings
throughout the world. Traces occur on objects from the
first city of Troy and another from a bronze age burial
site in Ireland. The earliest one that can be dated was
found on the Gokstad
Viking ship burial of 870AD.
Britain, many buildings have boards in positions where
play would be impossible, so it is assumed that stonemasons
played on them before using the stone in the construction
- an example can be seen on a pillar in Pickering Church
(Yorkshire, England). Separate boards exist at Helmsley
Castle, Whitby Abbey and the medieval village of Wharram
Percy. An early wooden example was found cut into the
top of a barrel on the Mary
first saw this game being played outdoors in Cochem, Germany
(a super place to visit) where the game is called Muhle,
which interestingly, means mill. Just so I could learn
the rules, I kept challenging anyone for a game and to
the great amusement of the local "experts" was
beaten hands down, time after time.
Rules of the game
sometimes called Nine Men's Morris is a game for two people,
played on a special board with nine pieces, pegs or counters
board has three 'concentric' squares linked at the mid
points of their sides. This provides 24 intersecting points
arranged in 16 lines of three.
is divided into three stages, but the object throughout
the game is to get three pieces in a line - called a mill.
On forming a mill, one of the opponent's pieces is removed
from the board and the game is won by the player who reduces
an opponent's remaining pieces to two.
opening stage begins with an empty board. Each player
has nine pieces which are placed one at a time in turn
on any vacant point on the board until both have played
all nine. If a mill - a line of three - is made, the player
making it removes any one of the opponent's pieces that
is not itself part of a mill. Throughout the game, pieces
forming a mill are therefore safe from capture.
a piece is removed from the board it takes no further
part in the game. It is important to note that mills can
only be made along the horizontal and vertical lines on
the board, never across the diagonals where no lines are
middle stage starts when all the pieces have been used.
Play continues alternately with the opponents moving one
piece to any adjacent point. A couple of tactics are often
used in this stage.
once a mill is formed it may be opened by moving one piece
from the line and closed by returning it to its original
position in the next move. Alternatively, in a running
mill opening one mill will close another one so that an
opponent's piece is removed on every turn.
player who is blocked, i.e. is unable to move any piece,
loses the game, this is the way that many games are won.
end stage allows a player with only three pieces to jump,
i.e. to move one piece to any empty point on the board
regardless of position. The other player must continue
to move normally unless both are reduced to three pieces.
The game ends when one player is reduced to two pieces
and so can no longer form a mill.
For further information or advice on
playing, please send mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to play Merrills (also known
as Morris) against your computer see lobstersoft.com.
page of Morris can be found at Traditional
Games by James Masters.
World Merrills Association ran the World Championships
annually at the Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton le Hole, York,
last competition was a one day event on Sunday 7th September
1997 with a 100ukp first prize.
seniors competition has been suspended due to lack of
entrants but the junior competion is still held.
are two classes for juniors entrants; up to school year
8 and school years 9 - 11.
is in Hutton le Hole near York, England. Tel. 01751 417367
are always lots of things to see for all the family and
Merrills day is no exception!
well as watching Championship play you can:
to play Merrills!
Listen to the band
Dance around the Maypole
Refresh yourself in
the tea tent
Watch craft demonstrations
Have a go at over
20 traditional games!
range of games include:
Devil among the Tailors
Whip and Top
Many thanks to Cliff
Hamer for the contribution.