Nine Holes

Nine Holes is a simple board game which has been found scratched on the floor of medieval cathedrals and Japanese temples, probably by young apprentices who were waiting their turn to serve. Although the game's rules are very simple, it can take a lot of strategy to beat an experienced opponent. A board can be easily drawn on a piece of paper or cardboard, or can be made as easily as scratching in the dust with some pebbles, seeds or coins as counters.

Age: Adults and older children

No. of players: 2

Equipment: Board; six counters (three black and three white, or other colours)

Time: 5 minutes+

Aim: To be the first player to get three counters in a row.

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1. One player holds a black counter in one fist and a white counter in the other fist. The opposing player chooses one hand. Whoever gets the black counter uses that colour and starts first.

Nine Holes board

2. Each player takes it in turn to put one counter on any of the nine points on the board. They should try to get three of their counters in a row (either vertically or horizontally), while preventing their opponent from doing the same.

3. Once all six counters are on the board (assuming no player got three in a row), players take turns to move one of their counters along a line onto a vacant point. Play continues until one player wins by getting three counters in a row.

4. For variations of this game, see Achi and Gobang.


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