hist-games: Nine men's morris

Christian Joachim Hartmann lukian at Null.net
Fri Aug 28 06:40:02 PDT 1998

At 06:52 26.08.98 -0400, Jeff Singman wrote:
>The only actual description of the rules known to me prior to Willughby

Then Willughby is the exception of the rule! According to Zollinger's
bibliography there's no (printed) rule or Morris before 1700 -- I guess
the game was considered too easy to be described.

> is
>Alfonso, who gives a rather fuzzy version with dice and a fairly clear one
>without them.

I'm actually on Alphonse's account trying to make sense of the rules given
there. In my opinion, the rules with dice are not that fuzzy and the rules
of the game without dice aren't that clear.
There's the usual problem: Alphonse's account is written by an for people
who already knew the period rules of Morris. Some aspects of the rules
are just not given.

In general, the inconsistent rules of Morris are these:

* The shape of the board (with or without diagonal lines in the corners).
  May one make rows on the diagonal lines?

* The number of men (Nine vs Twelve Men's Morris).

* Is one allowed to capture men from an existing row?
  On what condition?

*  Does a player also win if he manages to immobilize his
   opponents men?

* Is it allowed to jump if a players is reduced to 3 (4) men.

* Is it allowed to form and reform the same row of three in
  consecutive moves?

I think that's them. For a collection of the different rules
and boards see

>Supposedly there is also a body of 'problem'
>literature from the Middle Ages on the game (associated with collections
>of chess problems), which would probably also shed light on the rules of

That is true. I read that both the "Civis Bononiae" as the "Bonus socius"
collections of chess problems also contain 'Morris-problems' -- but I
haven't been able to get to a printed edition of these.

**       Christian Joachim Hartmann 
**       lukian at Null.net
**       christian.hartmann at uni-duesseldorf.de

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