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Nine Men's Morris/Fox and Geese
Nine Men's Morris
History. Nine Men's Morris, or Mill (Mühle), is one of the oldest board games known. The board pattern has been found on ancient Egyptian roofing tiles, Roman and Greek buildings, an English wall dating from 1200, and even choir stalls in old English cathedrals. The game has been and continues to be popular in many countries. It is the best of the so-called row-of-three games, the simplest of which is, of course, Tic-Tac-Toe.
Placing. The board begins empty, and the two players each use nine stones of their own color. They take turns placing one stone at a time on the intersections of the board. The objective is to get three stones of one's own color in a line on any three adjoining spots, vertically or horizontally. The three diagonal spots at the corners do not count as a row because they are not connected by lines.
Capturing. Whenever a player forms a row of three, called a "Mill," that player removes one of the opponent's stones from the board, provided that a stone may not be taken from a Mill.
Moving. Once all the stones have been placed, the players take turns moving one of their stones along the lines to an adjacent open spot. Anytime a player manages to close a Mill (form a row of three), the player removes an opponent stone. A Mill which is opened and then closed again on a later turn is considered a new row. Players may not pass a turn; a stone must be moved, even if it is to the player's disadvantage.
Jumping. When one player has only 3 stones left on the board, that player may jump to any open spot on the board, instead of moving to an adjacent spot. This freedom gives the player greater mobility to block the other player from forming a Mill.
Winning. The player who first is reduced to only two stones remaining, or who cannot move any stone on the board, loses the game.
Strategy. Blocking the opponent from getting three in a row by placing a stone in the opponent's line is the most direct approach. Forming combinations where you can get a Mill in two different directions such that your opponent can block only one of them is a little more subtle. And maneuvering to block in all of the opponent's pieces is the most devious way to win. The most powerful spots are the middle spots of the second square, because they are the entry points for moving to the inner or outer square.
Fox and Geese
Starting. One player has 17 white geese, arranged on the board as shown at right (Figure 1). The other player has one black fox, starting on the center of the board or on any space desired.
Moving. The fox moves first, one step in any direction along the lines to an adjacent empty spot. The fox may also jump, as in checkers, over a goose to an empty space immediately on the other side of the goose along the same straight line. The fox may make multiple jumps but does not have to jump. A jumped goose is removed from the board. The geese may move only along the lines one step at a time and may not move backwards. The geese may not jump.
Objective. The goal of the geese is to pen in the fox so he cannot move. The goal of the fox is to take enough geese to prevent them from penning him up.
Variations. If you find that under the above rules the geese usually win, omit the two front geese. If the geese are still too strong, play it so that the geese may move only forward or diagonally, not sideways.
Chinese Checkers Variant
Starting. Set up 12 pieces for each player as shown in the diagram at right (Figure 2).
Moving. Pieces may slide one space to an adjacent empty circle in any direction along the lines except backwards, or jump over other pieces following the lines, if the space directly on the other side of the piece being jumped is empty. Multiple jumps may be made. Jumps may go in any direction as long as the piece does not end up farther back than where it started that turn. Jumped pieces stay on the board.
Objective. The first player to get all 12 pieces into the other player's start position wins.
The traditional French 37-space board. This jumping puzzle starts with every spot on the board covered by a stone, except for the center (Figure 3, right). Jump stones over each other as in checkers, always over a single stone to an empty space immediately on the other side of that stone, and only along the lines on the board. Every move is a jump. Jumped stones are removed from the board. The objective is to end up with only one stone (a solitary stone, hence the name Solitaire) remaining on the board, preferably on the center spot. What is your best score for fewest number of moves? For a more difficult challenge, make no diagonal jumps.
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