Nine holes is a 3 in a row game for kids. It had been widely played in England since the middle ages. It is traditionally played with holes (hence the name) and pegs, but my kids and I fashioned an easy DIY paper and token version of this simple abstract strategy game.
Nine holes is a precursor to the popular Nine Men's Morris (there are also Three and Six Men's Morris versions), but is much simpler and thus very easy for young children to learn. Even preschoolers can play, although their strategy skills may still need some encouragement and refinement!
Nine holes is a great alternative to tic tac toe when you are on the go with the kids. Pull out a pen, paper and six coins and you have an instant boredom buster and brain builder. Plus, surprise, surprise, playing games like this can help kids build a strong foundation for learning future skills like coding and mathematics.
How to play Nine Holes
- Game board with a three by three grid. (see photo) The dots at each intersection represent the "holes".
- 6 tokens, 3 each of two types. We used chips and pegs. You could use two different kinds of coins, or buttons, etc.
- 2 enthusiastic players.
To be the first player to make a row with 3 tokens. Diagonal rows are not allowed.
Players alternate placing their tokens on the game board. Once all tokens have been placed on a "hole", players take turns moving tokens, one at a time, along the lines (from "hole" to "hole") in an attempt to get three in a row.
Watch the video to see it in action:
More to explore:
- Tapatan: a three in a row game from the Philippines.
- Dara: three in a row with a twist! From Nigeria.
- Len Choa: a leopard hunt game from Thailand.
- Peg solitaire
- All our game posts!