Real Mathematics – Numbers #10

A game for kids who would like to get better at arithmetic operations, decimal system and numbers in overall:

European Championship

  • Only materials needed for this game are a twelve-faced dice, pen/pencil and a piece of paper.
  • Game consists of encounters between two players.
  • In each encounter players roll the dice four times in order.
  • Outcome of a rolled twelve-faced dice is like the following:
  • For every player only ambition is to write the biggest possible four-digit number.
  • Difference of players’ four-digit numbers decides the winner.

Scoring of the game

Player with the bigger number would get:

  • 4 points if the difference is a four-digit number.
  • 3 points if the difference is a three-digit number.
  • 2 points if the difference is a two-digit number.
  • 1 point if the difference is a single-digit number.

If the difference is zero; meaning that the numbers are equal to one another, then both players get no points.

Every encounter finishes when one of the players gets to 7 points.


In case there is enough number of students, it is possible to construct a league version of the game that finishes after playoffs. For instance if there were 20 students we could divide them into 4 groups with 5 teams. In each group every player would play 4 games and after the group stage group leaders would go onto the playoffs where the champion can be decided after semi-final and final games.

World Cup

In this version of the game players would roll the dice three times and write the biggest possible three-digit number. Although this time winner gets to be decided like following:

  • If the difference is odd, biggest number wins.
  • If the difference is even, smallest number wins.
  • Winner gets 3 points as loser gets nothing. Differences are kept as averages.
  • If numbers are the same, players get 1 point each.

M. Serkan Kalaycıoğlu

Real Mathematics: Game #2

In school, mathematics is being used to help kids gain problem-solving skills. Even though I love arithmetic aspect of it, problem-solving is usually focused on arithmetic more than developing strategies for the problem itself. This causes kids to focus on the answer and act without thinking. I can’t emphasis this more: Thinking is integral if you’d like to learn mathematics.

When a kid solves all 100 problems from his/her math textbook, it really doesn’t tell much about his/her problem-solving skills. It only shows that kid knows how to do arithmetic. Unfortunately for that kid, arithmetic is not enough when he/she will face an original problem in future.

Space Racing

Creating new strategies has a positive impact on problem-solving. In order to achieve that one should stop worrying about arithmetic so much and focus on thinking about the problem itself.

Boşluk yarışı

It is very important to show kids problems that don’t include arithmetic within themselves. Space Racing is a kind of game that looks like it has nothing to do with mathematics. But in truth, it is a real mathematics problem. You should always remember this: a math answer can be just a paragraph.

Space Racing is a multiplayer game which requires only a paper and a pen. Players put X on empty boxes in order. Player A wins if the last two empty boxes are adjacent. Player B wins if the last two empty boxes are apart from one another.

There are so much to think about this problem:

  • Does it matter if player A starts first or not?
  • Does it matter how many empty boxes there are in the drawing?
  • Would anything change if players put two Xs in each turn?
  • Is there a strategy for player A to maximize his/her chances to win the game?
  • Is there a strategy for player B to maximize his/her chances to win the game?
  • Would it be possible to guess the outcome of the game after certain number of turns?


M. Serkan Kalaycıoğlu