Would you play to win one?

14th September 2007 at 01:00

In an old maths fairy tale, a mischievous queen played a game with her people. Anyone that had the courage to play had a chance of winning a pot of diamonds.

The queen had a staircase with 13 steps. There were six steps up to the pot of diamonds and six steps down to a dungeon door. The daring player began in the middle.

The Queen tossed a die with 1, 2, 3 and - 1, - 2, and - 3 on it. The player would move up and down the staircase accordingly. If the person reached the top then a rich future was guaranteed. However, if the player reached the door at the bottom it meant they would never be seen again.

Play this game by marking 13 steps using pieces of A4 paper. One player acts as the king or queen and throws the die, the other stands on the middle step. If 3 is thrown the player moves up 3. If - 1 is thrown the player moves down one and so on. Landing on the top step doesn't win the game. A player has to move beyond the step to win. Use this game as an introduction to negative numbers but tread carefully

John Dabell is a teacher at Lawn Primary School in Derby

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