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Some Games That May Be Nice or Nasty for Two

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Here’s a game to play with a grown-up!



How do you play?
You'll need a grown-up to play with.
You’ll also need a 1−6  dice, or even a 0−9  dice if you have one. You could use a spinner instead of a dice. You could also use the interactive dice here.

Each of you draw a set of four boxes like this:



Or you could print off a scoring sheet.

Game 1
Take turns with the grown-up to roll the dice and decide which of your four boxes to fill. Do this four times each until all your boxes are full. Read the four digits as a whole number. Whoever has the larger four-digit number wins.

There are two possible scoring systems:
• A point for a win. The first person to reach 10  wins the game
• Work out the difference between the two four-digit numbers after each round.
The winner keeps this score. First to 10000  wins.

There are also some variations...

Game 2
Whoever makes the smaller four digit number wins. See if you can come up with a suitable scoring system.

Game 3
Set a target to aim for. Then throw the dice four times each and work out how far each of you is from the target number. Whoever is the closer wins.

There are two possible scoring systems:
• A point for a win. The first person to reach 10  wins the game
• Work out the difference between the two four-digit numbers and the target number after each round. Keep a running total. First to 10000  loses.

Game 4
This game introduces a decimal point. The decimal point will take up one of the cells so this time the dice only needs to be thrown three times by each player. The winner is the one closer to the target. Choose a target.

Two possible versions:
• each player decides in advance where they want to put the decimal point before taking turns to throw the dice
• each player throws the dice three times and then decides where to place the digits and the decimal point.

Again, two different scoring systems are possible.

Game 5
This is the nasty version!

Play any of the games above. This time you can choose to keep your number and put it in one of your cells, OR give it to the grown-up and tell them which cell to put it in! It's really important to take turns to start each round if this game is going to be fair.

What winning strategies can you come up with?
Why are some cells more significant than others?
Notes for grown-ups
These games are thought provoking and very engaging. They encourage discussion of place value and strategic mathematical thinking.

Easier version: start with two or three boxes. Choose the easiest scoring system, or use a calculator to keep score.
Harder version: try using more than four boxes, or use more complicated scoring systems.

There's a classroom version of this game here.