Merels was a very popular game played on a simple board with each player starting with either 3, 6 or 9 pieces. In all versions of Merels, the goal is to make a mill, or to get three pieces in a row connected by lines. Any player making a mill is allowed to remove one of his or her opponents merels. In Three-Man Merels, the first player to make a mill is declared the winner.
Several other variations of Merels were played including a 12-man version with a more complicated board. This game, also known as Morabaraba in South Africa, is so popular today that it has been designed a sport in that country.
Rules for Nine-Man Merels
- Two players each start with 9 merels (pieces) each.
- Players draw lots to determine who will start.
- The first player places one piece on any of the intersections on the board.
- Players alternate placing pieces on the board until all 18 pieces are in play.
- Once all pieces are in play, each player alternates and moves one piece to another intersection along any of the lines.
- Each time a player forms a mill (three pieces in a row), he or she may remove an opponents piece.
- Winning: The first player to remove enough pieces to prevent his or her opponent from making a mill wins the game. In other words, when one player has only two pieces remaining, his or her opponent is the winner.
Rules for Six-Man Merels
- Two players each start with 6 merels (pieces) each.
- Game can be played on the same board as Nine-Main merels by not using the outer square.
- Played with the same rules as Nine-Man Merels above.
Rules for Three-Man Merels
- Played on a three by three board.
- Two players start with 3 merels (pieces) each.
- Flying, the act of moving pieces to a space not adjacent to it’s original location, is allowed in some variations.
- Winning: This version is won when either player makes a mill.
Singman, J. L., & McLean, W. (1995). Daily Life in Chaucer’s England. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.