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. 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.
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?
This task encourages you to investigate the number of edging pieces and panes in different sized windows.
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges of these multiplication arithmagons?
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.
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges?
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
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.
Can you explain how this card trick works?
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
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
Consider all two digit numbers (10, 11, . . . ,99). In writing down all these numbers, which digits occur least often, and which occur most often ? What about three digit numbers, four digit numbers. . . .
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how it works?
A collection of games on the NIM theme
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.
Triangular numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
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?
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.
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the patterns of play are similar.
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?
Investigate the different ways that fifteen schools could have given money in a charity fundraiser.
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. . . .
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?
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.
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
A game for 2 players
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
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?
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
Rectangles are considered different if they vary in size or have different locations. How many different rectangles can be drawn on a chessboard?
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.
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?
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?
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.
Take any two positive numbers. Calculate the arithmetic and geometric means. Repeat the calculations to generate a sequence of arithmetic means and geometric means. Make a note of what happens to the. . . .
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
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.
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.
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
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.
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?”
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?