Game On!

I thought I had read about or played most games during the 20942 days I have lived (online age calculator). And then today I discovered ULTIMATE TIC-TAC-TOE at “Math With Bad Drawings“. Here is a picture of a completed game:

ultimate tictactoe

The rules are:

1. The first player may place an “X” in any cell within any mini-square on the board.
2. The selected cell position within this mini-square corresponds to the mini-square position within the greater-square where the second player must then place an “O”.
3. Thereafter, the two players take turns placing their mark in any unfilled cell within the mini-square dictated by the cell position marked by the previous player. For the first player, this mini-square will be outlined in red.
4. The first tic-tac-toe winner in a mini-square remains the winner in that mini-square for the remainder of the game.
5. If a player is sent to a mini-square that has already been won, or in which all the cells are already filled, then the player may next place his mark in any unfilled cell in any other mini-board.

It got me thinking about whether their is a high correlation between good chess playing and being a good Mathematician.

The evidence and support for this idea is easily found on the web. If you are interested check out Edutech Chess: Why Chess?

Many countries now include chess in their school curriculum. These include Brazil, China, Venezuela, Italy, Israel, Russia, Greece and Armenia.

Not convinced? Then I suggest you visit Grand Master Susan Polgar’s “Get Smart Through Chess” website.


Make sure that you also watch the National Geographic video about her titled “My Brilliant Brain”. The video claims that Susan is the living proof that any child can be turned into a genius. It explains some of the differences between the male and female brain. The roles of visualisation and memory are also explained.

Susan also has free for download on her site:

chess training guide


So what is my opinion on playing chess in the Mathematics classroom? A definite yes – the research indicates yes, my intuition says yes, my students say yes, many of my teaching colleagues (eg. Adrian Camm) say yes too. But I would add, do not just limit games to chess!


About webmaths

I have been teaching Mathematics in Victorian secondary schools for 30 years. I use the www to make my maths lessons better. I hope this blog will give other teachers some ideas to try in their own classes.
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