Nine Men Morris

Nine Men Morris is a two-player ancient abstract strategy board game that originates in Roman Empire. The close relative of this game is Twelve Men Morris (also called Morabaraba).


9 Men Morris is played on a special board with 24 circle cells placed on three concentric squares. The circles are connected with lines as shown on the following picture:


There are two players: the first one has 9 White and the second has 9 Black men before a game starts.

The goal of the game is to capture 7 opponent's men or to block them so the opponent has no any legal move on his turn.


A "Mill" - a row of three men of the same color on any straight line drawn on the board (i.e. the lines between the following circles: A1-A4-A7 or B2-D2-F2).

"Capturing a man" - removing one of the opponent's men from the board during the game. The captured man is removed from the board and cannot be reused later in the game. If the opponent's man  is a part of a mill  then it cannot be shot. The only exclusion is when all opponent's men are in mills. In this case any opponent's man can be shot.


A game begins with an empty board. Players move alternatively, starting from the player having White men.

The game play is divided into two phases:

  1. Placing men
  2. Moving men

During the first phase players place a single man per turn in any empty circle on the board. If by placing a man the player forms a new mill (or several mills) of his color then he gets a right to capture one of opponent's men. The player can also skip capturing and pass the turn to his opponent if he wants.

After all 9 men are placed on the board the second phase begins. During the second phase each player can move any of his men to any empty adjacent circle along the drawn lines. As in the first phase, if moving a man forms a new mill then player gets a right to capture one of opponent's men. Players are allowed to break their own mills and remake them repeatedly by moving their man back and forth. Each time the mill is formed the player is allowed to capture another opponent's man. But keep in mind that breaking own mills exposes the men which were in a mill to the risk of being captured by the opponent on his next turn.

When a player remains with only three men they are turned into "flying men". These player's men are allowed to "fly" to any empty circles, not just adjacent ones.

End of Game

The game ends up in one of the following situations:

  • If one of the players cannot move then his opponent wins the game.
  • If one of the players captures 7 of the opponent's men (i.e. the opponent remains with just two men) then this player wins the game.
  • If both players have only three men each and neither player captures a man within ten moves then the game ends up with a draw.


There are several variations of the game rules:

  • if a player breaks some mill to form a new mill then it is illegal to form the same mill again on the player's next move;
  • if a player forms two mills simultaneously then the player gets the right to capture up to two opponent's men.

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