Hatch, match and despatch

21st September 2007 at 01:00
We don't normally encourage children to play with matches, but safe headless ones are worth investing in for games and puzzles.

One of the most famous of all matchstick games is Nim, an old verb meaning "to take".

To play Nim you need two players and 15 matchsticks. The matchsticks are placed next to each other like railway sleepers and players take it in turns to take one, two or three matches.

The player who picks up the last match loses. It's a simple enough game but can children find a way of winning every time? Success is assured by leaving first 13 matches, then nine and then five for their opponent to pick from.

An extension of this game is called Nimbus. This is just like Nim except you need a row of 21 matches.

To be sure of winning in this game children will discover that they must always leave an uneven number of matches for their opponent to pick from

John Dabell is a teacher at Lawn Primary School in Derby

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now