A collection of games on the NIM theme
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
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 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.
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind maths trails.
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
A game for 2 players with similarities 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.
Think of a number, add one, double it, take away 3, add the number you first thought of, add 7, divide by 3 and take away the number you first thought of. You should now be left with 2. How do I. . . .
The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written different fractions.
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.
This task encourages you to investigate the number of edging pieces and panes in different sized windows.
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
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 moves.
Spotting patterns can be an important first step - explaining why it is appropriate to generalise is the next step, and often the most interesting and important.
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
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
Watch this film carefully. Can you find a general rule for explaining when the dot will be this same distance from the horizontal axis?
Make some loops out of regular hexagons. What rules can you discover?
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges?
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
These tasks give learners chance to generalise, which involves identifying an underlying structure.
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
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?
Rectangles are considered different if they vary in size or have different locations. How many different rectangles can be drawn on a chessboard?
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
Can you find a way of counting the spheres in these arrangements?
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 country has decided to have just two different coins, 3z and 5z coins. Which totals can be made? Is there a largest total that cannot be made? How do you know?
Can you figure out how sequences of beach huts are generated?
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.
Draw a square. A second square of the same size slides around the first always maintaining contact and keeping the same orientation. How far does the dot travel?
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?
Triangular 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.
This article for primary teachers discusses how we can help learners generalise and prove, using NRICH tasks as examples.
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?
Find a route from the outside to the inside of this square, stepping on as many tiles as possible.
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.
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?”
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?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled ropes...
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there are in different sized boxes?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes there would be if hundreds of people met?
Dave Hewitt suggests that there might be more to mathematics than looking at numerical results, finding patterns and generalising.
15 = 7 + 8 and 10 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4. Can you say which numbers can be expressed as the sum of two or more consecutive integers?
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?
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how it works?