Mathematical card games

Christmas is a family holiday, nicht wahr? I happen to come from a family of sometime gadget devotees. Aside from the usual computer-based fare, this year has been all about iPads and Android apps and PS3 games and whatnot. We also belong to a group of family friends who usually do wandering dinner parties (or whatever you wish to call it) every year. All in all, the actual amount of time we spend as a solo family has to give a little bit under our habits and traditions. So we institutionalise family time. This means (“analogue”-) games hour (or two) after dinner and Sunday lunch in the pub.

For games hour, we progressively worked our way through a classic Chinese card game, the Game of Life and (viciously competitive) Uno, and upon the urge to change* again, plumped for Twenty-Four.

Twenty-Four is suitable for two to four players, or two teams. A deck of cards is split evenly between all participants (or the two teams), and each round begins with four cards being turned up on the table (or other suitable surface). The player or team that first creates a sum using each of the four numbers once wins the round and the cards on the table. Only addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are allowed. If nobody finds a solution within reasonable time, the cards on the table go into the pool, and whoever wins the next round wins the pool too.  The objective is to win the whole deck. Jacks, Queens and Kings can be removed, or a timed handicap can be given if there are young players (no patronisation intended).

It may not sound terribly compelling on paper – the younger family members objected at first to a “stupid maths game” – but good ol’ competitiveness usually takes over, aided by moments of furious silence followed by “I’VE GOT IT!” …gets them curious, you know.

I will not drone about “the benefits of educational games”, etc. (Frankly, I thought that the purpose of all games was to encourage healthy competitive spirit in all participants, whilst teaching us to be good sports.) I merely think that it cannot hurt to throw in a bit of random mathematics (pun very much intended) just to shake things up a bit?

Mind you, I could just be terribly behind, and everybody else has played this game for ages. Who knows?

Would these work?

*Suggestions of “analogue” games always welcome. Thanks.


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