The Game of 24

As a traditional Chinese parent, my girlfriend1 Ying is concerned with our daughters’ arithmetic skills.2 To this end, Ying has played a game with them from an early age and still plays it with them: the game is called 24. The rules of 24 are simple: deal four cards, and then use all four cards and any basic arithmetic operations (and brackets) to make a total of 24. Given the four cards above, for example, we could get to 24 by

(3 x 6) + 10 – 4

For clarity, suits do not matter, only the four basic operations are permitted, each card must be used exactly once, aces count as 1, and jacks, queens and kings count as 11, 12 and 13, respectively (or can simply not be used for younger players).3 Of course some card combinations are very easy and can be solved in multiple ways, but others are much more difficult. Some combinations are impossible. A great challenge, courtesy of Tony Gardiner, appears below. Continue reading “The Game of 24”

The Devolution of Games

I’m not sure if this is really a thing, but I’ve run into it a number of times and it feels like a thing. In recent years I’ve come across again long-familiar games only to find that there has been instituted some change, a serious simplification of some rule or the introduction of some perverting element. Readers can make of it what they will, but here are four games from my childhood and their subsequent alterations. Continue reading “The Devolution of Games”