Saturday, January 31, 2015

Nine Men's and Thee Men's Morris

On how nine men's morris is played without dice

This nine men's morris is played in another way, without dice by skill. The players take all their pieces in their hands and they roll to determine who plays first. And he that is to play first has an advantage because in placing the pieces he always takes the first space he likes, the quicker to make a mill as we said and take one piece from his opponent each time or prepare how to trap him so that he does not have anywhere to go with any of his pieces.

And if perchance the first player should err in placing his pieces well, he is defeated because one piece remains to the other player and puts it wherever he can cause hindrance to the other and line up his pieces just as we said and thereby wins the game

And this game they call nine men's morris because the pieces with which it is played with are nine of each color. And this is the diagram of the millboard and of its pieces, and this is its explanation.

This is another alquerque of three

There is another alquerque game and they call it that of the three and they call it thus because it is played with six pieces, three of one color and three of another. In this one dice do not have a part and he who plays first wins if he should know how to play it well.

And the play of it is this: he who should more quickly place his pieces in a row wins.

And since the one who plays first should place his piece in the center of the millboard, and the other player will place his wherever he should wish.

And he who played first should place his second piece in such a manner that the other player is perforce to place his in a row he has placed. Then the first to play will have to play perforce lined up with those two enemy pieces and all his pieces will be placed. And if in this way he should have placed them so that wherever the other player puts his remaining piece he loses. And if the one how  (sic) plays first should not play it like this, the other will be able to tie the game or defeat him.

And because of the tie and the markings where the pieces are placed tables and chess have a part there, because of the pieces with which it is played that resemble its pawns. And this is the diagram of the board and of the pieces.

Musser Golladay, Sonja. 2007. Los libros de acedrex dados e tablas: historical, artistic and metaphysical dimensions of Alfonso X's Book of Games. Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA: UMI Dissertation Services, from ProQuest Co. 

Alphonso's alquerque of three differs from Three Men's Morris  in that in the latter game players may continue to move pieces after all have been played.

"This document combines Sonja Musser Golladay's translation of the original text and Charles Knutson's facsimile copies of the original images. I originally prepared it as a teaching document to help me write a class on medieval games, but I have now posted it online for any and all who are interested to peruse and study as they wish."

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