The game of Merels is more commonly known today as Nine Men's Morris. The game has also been known as Merelles, Merrills, Merreles, Merrels, Merrelus, Marels, Marelles, Marrills, Muhle, Muller, Morell, Morelles, Molenspel, Mills, Mylla, Mlynek, Mylta and Morris. It is a simple board game for two players. From period documents and illustrations, it is known that it was very popular in the 1300s. However, variations of this type of game date back to BC times.
The game is played on a square board made up of three concentric squares connected by intersecting lines in the center of each of the square's sides.
Each player starts with nine pieces or men, off the board. The two sets of men must be different colors.
The players decide who starts first. Then they take turns placing one man at a time on any unoccupied point on the board. There are 24 points (marked with dots in the illustration) that men may be placed on.
Once both players have placed all of their men on the board, they take turns in moving their men (one at a time) already on the board. Men can only be moved to adjacent points along the marked lines. Only one man may be placed on any point. If a man is already on a point, another cannot be moved there.
The object is to form mills. A mill consists of a straight row of three of the player's own men along a straight marked/connecting line. If a player succeeds in making a mill, they may capture an opponent's man. This is done by removing an opponent's man from the board. Once captured, men cannot be brought back into play.
Whenever possible the captured man should NOT be taken from an opponent's existing line of three (mill).
Players must move a man if they can (even if it would be to their disadvantage). A player who cannot move a man loses the game.
It IS allowed to move a man out of a mill, then move back the following turn.
Once a player has been reduced to two men, and therefore is unable to form a mill which lets them capture their opponent's men, they lose the game.
A common variation of this game is to require that one intervening move must be made before a piece may be moved back into the same mill. No such restriction applies if a mill is being formed along a different line, or using different pieces.
The nine-man version of this game is the most well known, however there were many alternative versions that used a different number of men.
These include Five Men's Morris, Seven Men's Morris and Twelve Men's Morris.
Each have their own board, but the playing rules are the same.
Five Men's Morris board
Seven Men's Morris board
Twelve Men's Morris board
Permission to Print.
H.L. Modar Neznanich, CLM, CSH, CT, CCC
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