It was with some excitement that I picked up my brand new game called Blokus® (pictured) from The Games Shop (Royal Arcade, Bourke Street, Melbourne. Even though I shelled out $50 of my hard earned cash I was confident that my money would be well spent.
This wonderful game has its own website where you can learn the rules and play online! The game requires a combination of 2D spatial awareness and logic. There is even a 3D version!
I have noticed that some students (and teachers) have a definite weakness with spatial skills. For example, in a year 11 class today I produced a tangram puzzle at the end of the lesson and quickly noticed that the first two students to try the puzzle had difficulty “seeing” all the different ways a particular piece could be placed (flips and turns). I can only conclude that this a part of the mathematics curriculum that is often neglected and needs much more attention. The various forms of the Blokus® game would help with this.
The classic game for 2 to 4 players has a 20 x 20 square board. Each player has 21 pieces which he/she takes turns to place on the board joined only at the corners.
The 21 pieces consist of: 1 monomino, 1 domino, 2 triominoes, 5 tetrominoes; and 12 pentominoes. The pentominoes are shown below:
Blokus® gameplay can be very social or very serious. Although very simple to learn, the inherent complexities of skillful play will keep players interested long term. It is perhaps not surprising that this game was invented by a mathematician – I highly recommend it to you!