Nine Men's Morris
Nine Men’s Morris is one of the world’s most ancient games
The game has many names: Nine Man Morris, Mill, Mills, The Mill Game, Merels, Merills and so on.
The game is so ancient that no one knows its origin. From the stones of ancient Kurna in Egypt, to the stones of Bronze age burial sites in Ireland, the pattern for the board has been found in many ancient contexts.
The earliest known board for the game includes diagonal lines and was cut onto the roofing slabs of the temple at Kurna in Egypt 1400 BC.
By medieval times the game had spread far across the three continents of the world.
It was the game of choice for many particularly bored monks and priests, who carved its board into the stones and seats of their abbeys and cathedrals.
The board consists of a grid with twenty-four intersections or points. Each player has nine pieces, usually colored black and white. Players try to form 'mills' allowing a player to remove an opponent's man from the game. The aim of the game is to reduce the opponent to two pieces, rendering them unable to form any more mills.
In the great game of Assassin's Creed III, developed by Ubisoft (https://www.ubisoft.com), you can play Nine Men's Morris against the Barman.
The board consists of a grid with twenty-four intersections or points. Each player has nine pieces, or "men", usually coloured black and white. Players try to form "mills"
(three of their own men lined horizontally or vertically) allowing a player to remove an opponent's man from the game. A player wins by reducing the opponent to two pieces (where they could no longer form mills and thus be unable to win), or by leaving them without a legal move.
The game proceeds in three phases:
Placing men on vacant points
Moving men to adjacent points
Endgame or "Flying":
Moving men to any vacant point when the player has
been reduced to three men
Phase 1: Placing pieces
The game begins with an empty board.
The players determine who plays first, then take turns placing their men one per play on empty points. If a player is able to place three of their pieces on contiguous points in a straight line, vertically or horizontally, they have formed a mill and may remove one of their opponent's pieces from the board and the game, with the caveat that a piece in an opponent's mill cannot be removed.
(Note that the official rule only allows pieces from mills to be removed if no other candidates are available. This version of the game deviates from that rule and keeps mill integrity intact)
After all men have been placed, phase two begins.
Phase 2: Moving pieces
Players continue to alternate moves, this time moving a man to an adjacent point. A piece may not "jump" another piece. Players continue to try to form mills and remove their opponent's pieces as in phase one. A player can "break" a mill by moving one of his pieces out of an existing mill, then moving it back to form the same mill a second time (or any number of times), each time removing one of his opponent's men. The act of removing an opponent's man is sometimes called "pounding" the opponent. When one player has been reduced to three men, phase three begins.
Phase 3: Endgame or "Flying"
When a player is reduced to three pieces, there is no longer a limitation on that player of moving to only adjacent points: The player's men may "fly" or "jump" from any point to any vacant point.
Flying was introduced to compensate when the weaker side is one man away from losing the game.
During the Endgame, if no pieces have been removed after 10 moves, the game will suggest to offer a draw. When declined, the game continues and the "No Progress" counter is reset to 0.
At the beginning of the game, it is more important to place pieces in versatile locations rather than to try to form mills immediately and make the mistake of concentrating one's pieces in one area of the board.
An ideal position, which typically results in a win, allows a player to shuttle one piece back and forth between two mills, removing a piece every turn.
About the author
Ben Kalkhoven is a retired Dutch ICT professional with years of experience as Oracle DBA and Developer with additional skills in Visual Studio Visual Basic .Net and Web Development.
After retirement Ben had too much free time on his hands and started to build FreeWare applications under de name of ‘Nice SoftWare!’ with an web presence at www.nicesoftware.nl
This is a non-profit sort of a hobby horse with no other goal as to keep the OAP busy.
All programs that Nice SoftWare! create are Freeware and are donated to the Public Domain.
Contents of Help:
This can be another person or test your skills against the AI's algoritm which is built in the game. The AI follows certain priorities and strategies and may be hard to beat because it is very consequent in it's actions.
The Undo Option
This game offers a limited Undo option. It is only available when playing against a human opponent and then only directly after a move has been made and the turn went over to the next player.
If your move led to the closing of a mill, undo is deemed unnecessary and will be greyed out.
Selection of a piece before a move has been made, can be undone by clicking the same piece again thus causing the selection symbol to disappear.
You can then choose another piece to move.