Merels

Nine Men's Morris with dice in Libro de los juegos

Nine Men's Morris with dice in Libro de los juegos

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

Nine-Man-Merels Board

Nine-Man-Merels Board

  • 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

Six-Man's Merels Table

Six-Man's Merels Table

  • 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

Thee-Man Merels Board

Thee-Man Merels Board

  • 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.

References

Singman, J. L., & McLean, W. (1995). Daily Life in Chaucer’s England. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

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