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Things From Another World
Puzzle Master
by (Web published)
Player Count

Player Ages

Playing Time
20 minutes
  • Abstract Strategy
  • Designers
  • (Uncredited)
  • Mechanisms
  • Point to Point Movement
  • Family
  • Morris
  • Combinatorial
  • Rating: 6.9/10 from 1 users


    Shax is a traditional game from the Horn of Africa. It belongs to the Morris family. Like other games from that family, its origins date back to antiquity. The game is played by nomadic shepherds and city dwellers where a class of professional players has emerged.

    Shax is played on the same board as Nine Men's Morris, but with twelve pieces for each player. Play consists of two phases: the setup phase and the movement phase. In the setup phase, players take turns putting one piece on the board. Unlike in Nine Men's Morris, no pieces are removed when a jare (three-in-a-row, mill, literally: "cut") is formed during the setup. It is only noted who formed the first jare.

    In the movement phase, the player who formed the first jare moves first (if no jare was formed in the setup phase, the second player starts). He does so by removing one arbitrary piece of the opponent in order to create space for movement. The opponent does the same. Then players take turns moving their stones as in the other Morris games.

    If a jare is formed in the movement phase, the player removes a piece of the opponent. Note that - again unlike other Morris games - pieces in a jare are never protected against capture. Another important difference is that blocking does not constitute a win. If a player is locked in, he may demand that the opponent moves his stones until the blockade is removed. No advantage may be taken from these extra moves. In particular, if a jare is formed during these moves, then no capture is performed. There is no "flying phase" when a player is reduced to three pieces or less. The player who loses all his pieces loses the game.

    Numerous references to Shax exist in proverbs and Somalian literature. Favorable patterns of stones have got their own names.

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