Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
The number of plants in Mr McGregor's magic potting shed increases
overnight. He'd like to put the same number of plants in each of
his gardens, planting one garden each day. How can he do it?
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
A counter is placed in the bottom right hand corner of a grid. You
toss a coin and move the star according to the following rules: ...
What is the probability that you end up in the top left-hand. . . .
A game for 2 players. Set out 16 counters in rows of 1,3,5 and 7. Players take turns to remove any number of counters from a row. The player left with the last counter looses.
A game for 2 players with similaritlies to NIM. Place one counter on each spot on the games board. Players take it is turns to remove 1 or 2 adjacent counters. The winner picks up the last counter.
This article for teachers describes several games, found on the
site, all of which have a related structure that can be used to
develop the skills of strategic planning.
A game for 2 players
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
Euler discussed whether or not it was possible to stroll around Koenigsberg crossing each of its seven bridges exactly once. Experiment with different numbers of islands and bridges.
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
A collection of games on the NIM theme
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the
patterns of play are similar.
Start with any number of counters in any number of piles. 2 players
take it in turns to remove any number of counters from a single
pile. The winner is the player to take the last counter.
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
We can show that (x + 1)² = x² + 2x + 1 by considering
the area of an (x + 1) by (x + 1) square. Show in a similar way
that (x + 2)² = x² + 4x + 4
Four bags contain a large number of 1s, 3s, 5s and 7s. Pick any ten numbers from the bags above so that their total is 37.
The triangle OMN has vertices on the axes with whole number co-ordinates. How many points with whole number coordinates are there on the hypotenuse MN?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
The aim of the game is to slide the green square from the top right
hand corner to the bottom left hand corner in the least number of
Imagine starting with one yellow cube and covering it all over with
a single layer of red cubes, and then covering that cube with a
layer of blue cubes. How many red and blue cubes would you need?
Start with any number of counters in any number of piles. 2 players take it in turns to remove any number of counters from a single pile. The loser is the player who takes the last counter.
The opposite vertices of a square have coordinates (a,b) and (c,d). What are the coordinates of the other vertices?
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
A 2 by 3 rectangle contains 8 squares and a 3 by 4 rectangle
contains 20 squares. What size rectangle(s) contain(s) exactly 100
squares? Can you find them all?
If you can copy a network without lifting your pen off the paper and without drawing any line twice, then it is traversable.
Decide which of these diagrams are traversable.
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
What would be the smallest number of moves needed to move a Knight
from a chess set from one corner to the opposite corner of a 99 by
99 square board?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
A game for two people, or play online. Given a target number, say 23, and a range of numbers to choose from, say 1-4, players take it in turns to add to the running total to hit their target.
A red square and a blue square overlap so that the corner of the red square rests on the centre of the blue square. Show that, whatever the orientation of the red square, it covers a quarter of the. . . .
Rectangles are considered different if they vary in size or have different locations. How many different rectangles can be drawn on a chessboard?
Imagine an infinitely large sheet of square dotty paper on which you can draw triangles of any size you wish (providing each vertex is on a dot). What areas is it/is it not possible to draw?
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
Charlie likes tablecloths that use as many colours as possible, but insists that his tablecloths have some symmetry. Can you work out how many colours he needs for different tablecloth designs?
If you continue the pattern, can you predict what each of the following areas will be? Try to explain your prediction.
Can you dissect a square into: 4, 7, 10, 13... other squares? 6, 9,
12, 15... other squares? 8, 11, 14... other squares?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
The sum of the numbers 4 and 1 [1/3] is the same as the product of 4 and 1 [1/3]; that is to say 4 + 1 [1/3] = 4 × 1 [1/3]. What other numbers have the sum equal to the product and can this be so for. . . .
Find some examples of pairs of numbers such that their sum is a
factor of their product. eg. 4 + 12 = 16 and 4 × 12 = 48 and
16 is a factor of 48.
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
Imagine a large cube made from small red cubes being dropped into a
pot of yellow paint. How many of the small cubes will have yellow
paint on their faces?
List any 3 numbers. It is always possible to find a subset of
adjacent numbers that add up to a multiple of 3. Can you explain
why and prove it?