To roll or pass, that is the question

5th October 2007 at 01:00
A simple two-player dice game that mixes mental addition, probability and strategic thinking is the game of Pig.

Players take it in turns to throw two one-six dice and score the points thrown. A player can keep throwing the dice over and over again, keeping a running total of the numbers shown. Each throw is considered a round. The aim of the game is to reach 100 or some other agreed score.

A player's turn ends when a one is thrown and the score for that round is lost. If a double one is thrown then the player not only loses a turn but the whole accumulated score returns to zero. Players don't have to wait to throw a one to end their turn as they can simply pass the dice to their opponent to throw. The big decision is always whether to roll or pass.

After children have played the game they can discuss whether they think the game is fair. Does the order of play make a difference to who wins? Is there an optimal strategy for playing it? What is the probability of throwing a double one? Investigate dice of different shapes and challenge children to vary therules*

John Dabell is a teacher at Lawn Primary School in Derby

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