Morris, Mill, Merelles, Mühle, Morels
The History of Morris
Morris is one of the oldest games which is still played today.
Boards have been found in and on many historic locations of the world, carved into the stones of the buildings.
So morris boards can be found at the temple of Kurna, Egypt (~1440 BC), first city of Troy and with some variations in board design even in Asia.
The game was played by roman soldiers, who carved the board in wooden pieces and Ovid mentioned the game in his "Ars amatoria".
Since the Middle Ages Morris was played on the hole European continent.
Shakespeare mentioned the game in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Act 2, Scene 2 - "The Nine Mens Morris is filled up with mud".
In the "Book of Games" (Libro dos Juegos), produced under the direction of Alfonso X (1221-1284), King of Castile (Spain) in the 13th century, a version of Morris is mentioned, which is played with dices.
So people in those days played Morris in a lot of different variations.
More information on the history of Morris can be found at the following pages:
Games of the Viking & Anglo-Saxon Age
The Rules of the game
Today's version if the morris game is played on a grid with 12 corners and 12 crossings.The crossings and corners are called fields.
Each player has 9 pieces (either white or black) which are beside the board at the beginning of the game.
The grid looks like this:
The game can be won in 2 different ways:
Whenever a player aligns 3 pieces in a row (this formation is called a mill), he can permanently remove an opponent’s piece from the board. Only pieces that are not part of a mill can be removed. A mill can be opened (by moving a piece away) in order to close it again one move later and to remove an opponent’s piece again.
The following picture shows a red and a green mill:
- By removing 7 opposing pieces from the board
- By completely blocking the opponent during his moving phase
The game is divided into 3 different phases.
Phase 1: Putting the pieces on the board
At the begining of the game, both players put their pieces on the board by turns. Both players can already try to form a mill in order to remove enemy pieces. Pieces can be put on crossings and on corners of the grid that is painted on the board (called "fields")
Phase 2: Moving your pieces
Phase 2 begins as soon as all your pieces are on the board. Pieces can only be moved to adjacent free fields. It is not possible to move a piece onto another one or to jump over other pieces. During the moving phase, both players can form mills in order to remove enemy pieces or try to win the game by blocking each other. If a player is completely blocked so that he cannot make any move, he loses the game.
Phase 3: Jumping
If a player has only 3 pieces left, he can move his pieces to any free field on the board instead of moving them only to adjacent free fields, like in Phase 2. He cannot be blocked anymore, but loses the game if his opponent manages to build a mill. As soon as you get into Phase 3, your only chance to win is to remove enough enemy pieces. Be careful. Just one more mistake will make you lose the game.
The game ends when
-a player has only 2 pieces left
-a player is blocked and cannot move any pieces (this can only happen while is in phase 2 of the game)
Morris - the game with the thousand names
So how do you call this game?
Here is how other people name the game:
Nine Mens Morris,
Jeu de Moulin,
As you can see, the name has many related names in different languages.
The names could have been derived from the old french word "merel" - the word for coin or counter (marker).