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Prof. R. VASANTHA
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nine men's morris 1 nine men's morris 2

Nine Men's Morris is a two-player strategy game with a long history. The pattern of the board is found twice, as graffiti, in the 1300BC Egyptian temple, the Ramesseum in Kurna in Egypt. Each player has nine pieces which move between the twenty-four intersections of three interlocking squares. The game is thought to be a direct ancestor of tic-tac-toe.

This is a game of alignment and configuration. This is a game for two players, each with nine, eleven or twelve pieces. Men are entered one at a time, in alternate turns, each player attempting to form a row along one of the vertical or horizontal lines of the board, and sometimes the slant lines, and to confine opponent’s men so that they cannot move. Each row entitles a player to remove an opponent’s piece. Sometimes this may not be one in a row. When all pieces are entered they can be moved one step at a time along a line to a neighboring empty point. The winner either blocks all the opponent’s men so that they cannot move, or reduces their number so that they cannot form a row.

Games of alignment or Row games

nine men's morris 3
nine men's morris 4
nine men's morris 5
Fig.1 Mooru mane ata
Fig.2. Paggada ata
Fig.3. Paggada ata

Sl.no

Name

Local name

Location

Population groups

Literary sources

Living game/not

1

Games of alignment or row games

1.Paggada ata
2.mooru mane ata(in kannada)
3.char pur (in telugu)

1.hemakuta jaina temples
2.under the boulders
3.underground temple
4.hazara rama temple
5.Vitthala temple
6Pattabhi rama temple
7.Practically everywhere

Played by masses (also agriculture class) as pastime

1.Ramanath charite by Nanjunda Kavi – 1525 AD
2.Simhasana Dvaitrimshika by Gopiraju- 1398 AD

 

Living game

Fig.1.

This game is drawn on the floor of the outer mandapa of Hazara rama temple. This variety (row game) is played only by children of 5-7 years of age. It is termed as simpler game and is for beginners.

Two players, each with three counters – pebbles or marbles, place a counter one at a time onto one of the intersection of two lines (which is one of the nine points), during alternate turns of play. Each player is attempting to make an orthogonal row before the other player does this. When all the counters have been placed, the game continues, and during alternative turns, a player can transfer one of his/her counters to any vacant intersection until a row of three is made.

Figs. 2 & 3

Practically both figures are same; the difference lies only in the central intersection in the second figure. Perhaps this might have been the mistake of the engraver or difficulty in engraving on a granite stone or the skill of the engraver to combine the first and the second game in one figure.

The first figure is found almost everywhere at Hampi, but the second figure is found only on the floor of the Vithala temple.

Rules: this is for two players, each with nine pieces. Pieces are entered one at a time, in alternate turns, each player attempting to form a row along one of the vertical or horizontal lines of the board, and to confine opponent’s pieces so that they cannot move. Each row entitles a player to remove an opponent’s piece. When all pieces are entered they can be moved one step at a time along a line to a neighboring empty point. The winner either blocks all the opponent’s pieces so that they cannot move, or reduces their number so that they cannot form a row.

Rule variation: two players, each with nine pieces. Players are not entitled to remove any pawn. The winner is the one who blocks opponent’s moves or form a row first. (Simhasana Dvaitrimshika by Gopiraju- 1398 AD- this rule is still in use at Hampi)

 
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