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.
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?
Caroline and James pick sets of five numbers. Charlie chooses three of them that add together to make a multiple of three. Can they stop him?
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?
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
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.
Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?
Problem solving is at the heart of the NRICH site. All the problems
give learners opportunities to learn, develop or use mathematical
concepts and skills. Read here for more information.
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
What is the ratio of the area of a square inscribed in a semicircle to the area of the square inscribed in the entire circle?
Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?
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.
Choose any 3 digits and make a 6 digit number by repeating the 3
digits in the same order (e.g. 594594). Explain why whatever digits
you choose the number will always be divisible by 7, 11 and 13.
Can you find the area of a parallelogram defined by two vectors?
Can you explain how this card trick works?
Many numbers can be expressed as the difference of two perfect squares. What do you notice about the numbers you CANNOT make?
Charlie and Abi put a counter on 42. They wondered if they could visit all the other numbers on their 1-100 board, moving the counter using just these two operations: x2 and -5. What do you think?
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?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
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.
A game for 2 players
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
How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
Sets of integers like 3, 4, 5 are called Pythagorean Triples, because they could be the lengths of the sides of a right-angled triangle. Can you find any more?
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
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?
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.
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like
to eat chocolate. Multiply this number by 2...
Jo has three numbers which she adds together in pairs. When she
does this she has three different totals: 11, 17 and 22 What are
the three numbers Jo had to start with?”
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges?
Choose four consecutive whole numbers. Multiply the first and last numbers together. Multiply the middle pair together. What do you notice?
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the
patterns of play are similar.
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how
Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
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?
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
A little bit of algebra explains this 'magic'. Ask a friend to pick 3 consecutive numbers and to tell you a multiple of 3. Then ask them to add the four numbers and multiply by 67, and to tell you. . . .
Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to
explain why this is possible.
The opposite vertices of a square have coordinates (a,b) and (c,d). What are the coordinates of the other vertices?
You can work out the number someone else is thinking of as follows. Ask a friend to think of any natural number less than 100. Then ask them to tell you the remainders when this number is divided by. . . .
Can you show that you can share a square pizza equally between two
people by cutting it four times using vertical, horizontal and
diagonal cuts through any point inside the square?
Janine noticed, while studying some cube numbers, that if you take
three consecutive whole numbers and multiply them together and then
add the middle number of the three, you get the middle number. . . .
The diagram shows a 5 by 5 geoboard with 25 pins set out in a square array. Squares are made by stretching rubber bands round specific pins. What is the total number of squares that can be made on a. . . .
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
An account of some magic squares and their properties and and how to construct them for yourself.