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Games

By Ann Mroz

SUMITUP. Positive Games Ltd Price Pounds 14.95. Available from toy shops. Age range: four upwards

Number of players

One to four. Mixed ability groups can play but expect tantrums.

Equipment

Playing board, 134 tiles in five colours, cloth bag, four tile holders.

What happens

Basically Scrabble with numbers.

Players each take seven tiles from which they must make a sum, vertically or horizontally. The tiles come in five colours with a number on one side and a mathematical sign - plus (red), minus (green), multiply (yellow), divide (blue), equals (white) on the other. Extra points are gained for laying a tile on a square of the same colour.

Aims

Fermat's Last Theorem isn't the biggest unsolved maths problem of all time. It's how to get children to enjoy maths. So a game that claims "to make numbers fun" is sure to gladden a mother's heart. "Let's play a really fun maths game," I said. The six-year-old ignored me and continued his latest obsession - a count to infinity (it's been going on some time now) - and the 10-year-old gave me her best pitying look. Bribes of a trip to the cinema, two bags of sweets, three late bedtimes and a Spice Girls picture album later we started to play. All went well until the six-year-old realised his inferior maths skills were impeding him, even though younger children can play with only the addition and equals tiles. But boy, did the game hone his skills. Next day granny (68) asks boy (six) to carry one of her bags. "No," he says "it's too heavy."

She says:"Ah well. You'll carry them all for me when you're 14."

"No I won't" he says, putting new skills into practice (14 - 6 + 68), "because you'll be dead." Great maths but one upset granny.

Skills required

Mental maths (children). Persuasive powers (parents).

When to play

After a dodgy report.

Entertainment value

The words "maths" and "entertainment" are not heard too often in the same breath, but any game that claims to combine the two is worth giving a go. Class swots will love it.

Star rating **

*** Must-have

** Rainy-day stand-by

* Emergencies only

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