How to Play Nine Men's Morris

Nine Men's Morris is a classic board game that has been enjoyed for centuries. With simple rules and strategic gameplay, it's a great way to challenge your mind and have fun with friends. We'll guide you through the basics of Nine Men's Morris, from setting up the board to advanced strategies for winning. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player, you'll find valuable tips and tricks to improve your gameplay.

Overview of the Board and Pieces

The Nine Men's Morris board is a square board with three concentric squares with lines connecting them, forming a total of 24 intersections. Each player starts with nine game pieces of a different color. The pieces can be placed on the board at the intersections of the lines.


The gameplay of Nine Men's Morris is divided into three phases: placement phase, movement phase and "flying" phase.

Placing Pieces

Placing pieces phase is the first phase of the game in Nine Men's Morris. In this phase, each player takes turns placing their pieces on the intersections of the board, one at a time, until all 18 pieces (9 for each player) have been placed.

The goal during this phase is to create "mills" – a mill is a straight line of three pieces of the same color, connected along the board's lines. When a mill is formed, the player who created it can remove one of their opponent's pieces from the board.

During the placing phase, players should try to place their pieces in strategic positions that will allow them to create mills and block their opponent from doing the same. It's important to pay attention to the overall structure of the board and plan ahead to create the best possible positions for your pieces. Once all 18 pieces have been placed on the board, the game moves on to the "moving pieces" phase.

Moving Pieces

In the second phase of the game, each player takes turns moving one of their pieces along the lines of the board to an adjacent intersection, with the goal of creating mills and removing their opponent's pieces.

If a player creates a mill during their turn, they can remove one of their opponent's pieces from the board.


Once a player is reduced to only three pieces left on the board, they can "fly" – that is, they can move their pieces to any open intersection on the board, rather than only to adjacent ones.

The flying phase is an important strategic opportunity for players who have lost many of their pieces and are trying to come back in the game. The player still only gets to move one piece per turn.

Basic Strategies for Beginners

The key to winning in Nine Men's Morris is to form mills. Look for opportunities to place your pieces in a way that will create a mill, and try to block your opponent from doing the same.

Try to place your pieces in a way that will allow you to form multiple mills. Placing your pieces at the intersection of two lines is a good strategy, as it allows you to potentially form two mills with one piece.

Try to keep your pieces connected on the board, as this will make it harder for your opponent to capture them. If your pieces are not connected, your opponent can easily isolate them.

Try to anticipate your opponent's moves and block their attempts to form mills. If you see that your opponent is about to form a mill, try to block it by placing your piece in a strategic position.

Advanced Strategies for Experienced Players

In some situations, it may be advantageous to sacrifice a piece in order to gain a strategic advantage. For example, if sacrificing a piece will allow you to form two mills at once, it may be worth it.

The double mill strategy involves placing your pieces in a way that allows you to form two mills simultaneously. This can be a powerful strategy, as it puts a lot of pressure on your opponent.

The intersections at the center of the board are the most important ones, as they allow you to form mills in multiple directions. Try to control these intersections and block your opponent from doing the same.

Force your opponent into a "pinch". A pinch is a situation where your opponent has two pieces adjacent to each other, with no room to move. If you can force your opponent into a pinch, it gives you a significant advantage, as they will be unable to move one of their pieces.

As the game progresses and there are fewer pieces on the board, it becomes more important to plan your moves carefully. Try to anticipate your opponent's moves and position your pieces in a way that will give you the best chance of winning.

Make the Board and Pieces at Home

If you want to make a Nine Men's Morris board and pieces at home, here are some tips:


You will need a piece of wood or cardboard for the board, and small pieces of wood or plastic for the pieces. You will also need a ruler, a pencil, and some paint or markers.


Start by drawing three concentric squares. Then draw the nine intersections. Use a ruler to ensure that your lines are straight and evenly spaced.


Cut small pieces of wood or plastic into uniform squares, and then sand the edges to create smooth corners. You can then paint or color the pieces in two different colors, to create two sets of pieces.


If you want to add a storage compartment for the pieces, you can cut a second piece of cardboard or wood to fit over the top of the board, and then cut out holes to hold the pieces.

In conclusion, Nine Men's Morris is a fascinating game that has been played for centuries. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player, there are many strategies that you can use to improve your game and increase your chances of winning. By mastering the basics of the game, learning advanced strategies, and practicing regularly, you can become a skilled Nine Men's Morris player and enjoy hours of challenging gameplay. So, gather a friend and a board, and give this ancient game a try. Who knows, you may just discover a new favorite pastime!