Saturday, November 18, 2006

Nine Men Morris

This is a game that my son brought home from school. I'd never heard of it before. It is simple enough for a child of 6 or 7 to grasp the rules, but it has the potential for enough fiendish cunning ansd strategy to keep an adult interested. I haven't mastered the finer points of it yet.

Each of two players has nine pieces. White starts and places a piece at any of the intersections or corners of the grid. Black places a piece and you take turns until all the pieces are on the board.

The aim is to get three of your pieces in a row. When you manage that you can choose any piece belonging to your opponent to remove from the game (you cannot take one that is already in a row of three). So you are also trying to stop your opponent gettingthree in a row. Once all the pieces are on the board you take turns moving your pieces one space at a time, still aiming to get three in a row. Usually one person's pieces get decimated fairly quickly, but there is a fall back position. Once you are down to just three pieces you can hop one of your pieces wherever you like on your turn. This can turn your game around. The game ends when one person is down to two pieces and can no longer form a row.

The beauty of this game is that you can play it anywhere. At the beach you could draw the grid in the sand - (three concentric rectangles connected by the four vertical lines) - and use pebbles versus shells as pieces. At home you can draw the grid on paper and use beans or bottletops.

My six year old has mastered the rules and has even on occasion caught me unawares, when I've been trying unobtrusively not to win too easily or to allow her to get ahead, she's suddenly knocked me right out of the game with no mercy. My son of course goes all out to win on all occasions and makes unashamed use of the strategy of moving a counter in and out of a row of three picking off my counters turn after turn. Once I've worked out the secrets of success maybe I'll share them with you...or then again maybe I'll keep them to myself in a devious ploy to win all tournaments when it gets played on the internet!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I could see getting hooked on this. Except that the 5 year old will feel left out if I teach the 8 year old to play. Maybe in a year or so.

    But what does "HH" stand for in the center square? At first, I figured it was some form of home base, and that the counters were heading for it. Or is it your son's initials?


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