3 Men's Morris

Picture with a square on it.  In the square is an X from corner to corner. There is also a line cutting both horizontally and vertically through the X. There are circles drawn where the lines intersect.  A total of 9 circles.
Here is what your game should look like once it is completed.  The board game can be drawn on paper, on a sidewalk with chalk and in even in the dirt.  Have fun!

NPS Photo

Three Men’s Morris

An Improved Version of Tick-Tac-Toe.

History – This game was played in ancient Egypt. One of these game boards was found cut into a roofing slab at the temple at Kurna in Egypt [c. 1400-1333 B.C.] Three Men’s Morris was very popular in the 14th century. Game boards have been found in cathedrals carved into cloister seats by monks. Washington’s soldiers could have easily drawn a board in the dirt and used rocks or nuts for playing pieces.

This is an easy game to learn. It’s quick and simple, but still challenging. Take a couple minutes to play a piece of history.

Here's how to make the game :
  • Draw a square on paper making a box.
  • Draw two lines across the inside of the from corner to corner making a big “X”.
  • Draw two lines from the center of the sides of the box that pass through the center of the “X”.
  • Your box should now look similar to the flag of England [United Kingdom].
  • Draw a circle at every spot where the lines intersect. There should be a total of nine spots. Eight around the outside of the box and one in the center.
  • You need a total of six playing pieces [three for each player]. You can use coins, rocks, nuts, anything that will fit on the board.
9 Men's Morris game being played with 3 quarters and 3 pennies as playing pieces.
9 Men's Morris set up and ready to be played using quarters and pennies as playing pieces.

NPS Photo

How to Play the Game

Part One

Each player has three tokens or game pieces.

Taking turns, each player places one token at a time at any intersecting point on the board. There are nine intersections.

The first person to get three tokens in a straight line wins the game.

Part Two

If after all the pieces have been placed on the board, and no one has won, then players take turns moving their pieces.

The players take turns moving one of their tokens to an unoccupied point next to their token following the marked lines.

Only one token may occupy any point at a given time. If a point is occupied, you may not move to that point.

You cannot jump over tokens.

Some pieces may become trapped and cannot move.

Players take turns moving a piece until someone gets three in a row.

The first person to get three tokens in a straight line, known as a “mill,” wins the game.


Last updated: April 23, 2020

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