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?
Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
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.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
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.
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
Can you explain how this card trick works?
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
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.
Many numbers can be expressed as the sum of two or more consecutive integers. For example, 15=7+8 and 10=1+2+3+4. Can you say which numbers can be expressed in this way?
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.
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how
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.
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. . . .
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
A game for 2 players
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
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?
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.
Rectangles are considered different if they vary in size or have different locations. How many different rectangles can be drawn on a chessboard?
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?
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
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.
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
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.
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.
A collection of games on the NIM theme
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.
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
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
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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. . . .
Three circles have a maximum of six intersections with each other.
What is the maximum number of intersections that a hundred circles
Choose a couple of the sequences. Try to picture how to make the next, and the next, and the next... Can you describe your reasoning?
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. . . .
With one cut a piece of card 16 cm by 9 cm can be made into two pieces which can be rearranged to form a square 12 cm by 12 cm. Explain how this can be done.
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
In how many ways can you arrange three dice side by side on a
surface so that the sum of the numbers on each of the four faces
(top, bottom, front and back) is equal?