Traditional Board Games

Twelve Men's Morris

Twelve men's morris is a strategic three-in-a-row game. Two players each have twelve pieces, and play on a board of 24 points. The players strive to make rows of three along the marked lines, first by placing the pieces on the board one at a time (as in tic-tac-toe), and then by moving the pieces from one point to another along a marked line. Forming a row of three pieces allows a player to remove an enemy piece. A player wins the game by reducing the enemy to two pieces.

History of Eleven and Twelve Men's Morris

Eleven and twelve men's morris were developed from the more widespread game of nine men's morris. The board was altered by adding diagonal lines, joining the concentric squares at their corners. In early forms of the game, the diagonal lines were for movement only, but in the modern form, it is permissible to form mills upon them.

Twelve men's morris was the game taken to New England by the first settlers in the 17th century. It is possible to achieve gridlock during the placement phase of this game, where the 24 men exactly fill the 24 points; if nobody has made a mill then the pieces may not move and the game is drawn. This may be the reason for the development of eleven men's morris; with 22 pieces on the 24 intersections there should always be room for at least one player to move.

Rules for Eleven and Twelve Men's Morris

Rules for Eleven and Twelve Men's Morris
1. Eleven and twelve men's morris are played by two players, with pieces placed on the points of the lined board shown.

2. The board starts empty, each player holding all his pieces in hand. In eleven men's morris the players have eleven pieces each; in twelve men's morris, twelve.

3. At first, each player in turn puts one piece on the board, at any vacant point.

4. Once all pieces are on the board, a player instead moves one of his pieces along a marked line to an adjacent empty point.

5. If a piece placed or moved as in rules 3 or 4 forms a row of three along a marked line (called a mill), he can take one of his opponent’s pieces, so long as that piece is not itself part of a mill.

6. If when capturing as in rule 5, all opposing pieces form mills, then any of the pieces may be captured.

7. When a player is reduced to four pieces, his pieces are free to move to any unoccupied point, instead of being restricted to adjacent points as in the rest of the game.

8. A player wins the game when the opponent is reduced to 2 pieces and is thus unable to form a mill or make further captures.

9. Twelve men's morris may be drawn if the board is filled in the first phase, and no pieces taken, as the second phase will be gridlocked with neither player able to move.

Twelve men's morris: try it out!


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