There was a MathOverflow thread about mathematically interesting games for 5–6 year olds. A lot of the discussion revolved around how young age 5 really is, and how we should temper expectations because we don’t really remember what it’s like to be 5. In response to an enormous answer by AlexanderChervov, user LSpice quipped, “‘Daddy, daddy, let’s play another in the infinite indexed family of perfect-information draw-free cheap-to-construct two-player games!’” That being said, Martín-Blas Pérez Pinilla’s “sprouts” game piqued my interest to find optimal strategies.

Most abstract logic games that are interesting to mathy folks are only interesting when you start asking questions beyond core gameplay. For example, the game Set is interesting when you ask, “how many cards can you have with no set?” or similar tricks to determine the last un-dealt card in a deck just by viewing the remaining board. These have little to do with skill at playing the game. I started playing chess around 5–6 years old, but realistically I was probably doing it to spend time with my dad and get approval for making correct moves. …

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Jeremy Kun

Mathematics PhD, currently at Google. Author of Math ∩ Programming @MathProgramming

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