## Mathematics and Games (Kangaroo Math 2014)

On Sunday, March 23rd, 2014, I gave a talk to parents of kids writing the 2014 Kangaroo Math contest. The slides are available here: Kangaroo 2014 Slides. The content of the talk was a discussion of Tic-Tac-Toe in disguise, and a proof of the winning strategy for Nim.

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After the talk I had several very good questions from the audience.

*Why are games helpful for learning mathematics?*

Good strategy games encourage logical reasoning, and build mental stamina. Both of these skills are essential for doing mathematics. Some games, such as the 15 Game or Nim, involve mathematics in very concrete ways. Others, like Chess or Go, develop mathematical talent more subtly. I feel that for many children and working mathematicians ‘thinking’ consists of ‘playing’ with ideas. Playing strategic games helps develop this ‘playing’.

*Where can I learn/play some strategy games online?*

igGameCenter has hundreds of games waiting to be played.

*Where can I get the books mentioned at the end of the talk?*

Amazon has all the books mentioned for order. See the links below:

For the practical players / problem solvers:

- Your Move — Silverman
- A Gamut of Games — Sackson

For the mathematicians:

- Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays — Berlekamp, Conway, Guy
- The Dots and Boxes Game — Berlekamp

*Which games appeared in the presentation?*

All links below refer to Wikipedia, unless stated otherwise.

- Backgammon
- Poker
- Chess
- Go
- The 15 Game
- Nim
- Peg Solitaire
- The Rubik’s Cube
- Sprouts
- Hackenbush
- Amazons
- Catchup (BoardGameGeek)
- Slither (BoardGameGeek)
- Hex

Two nice facts about games. | Parker Glynn-Adeysaid, on 2014/03/29 at 13:20[…] giving my talk last week about games, I’ve been on a bit of a mathematical gaming kick, and would like to share some […]