Go is one of the oldest and most elegant of games. As the great Go educator Nick Sibicky says “If we discover intelligent life somewhere else in the universe – there is a good chance they will play Go.” That’s true. However they are unlikely to be replicate the human board size of 19×19. Indeed many people play on 9×9, 11×11 and 13×13 boards.

Here is a more natural game related to Go. It is played on an infinite board.

Black begins. Play alternates.

Players win by killing one or more stones of their opponent or by creating a group with one eye. If you do not know what eyes are – go and study Go for a while 😉

White also wins if black fails to win in a certain number of moves. This can be set to infinite, but assuming that aliens also have time constraints, games which may take an infinite time are awkward 😉

One advantage of this game over regular go is that it can be played on paper since the game immediately ends if stones are captured.

Of course the game has a lot of disadvantages compared to 19×19 Go, but it is a more “natural” game because it avoids the arbitrary “19”.

Enjoy 😉

Follow this game…

Follow this game…

Follow this game…

Follow this game…

Follow this game…

Hope you enjoyed the game. One thing I’m unsure about is who should win in the case of black forcing white into a ladder. In the current rules white wins because black loses if it does not win in a finite number of turns.

Dot to Dot Median Path Puzzles

(MathPickle, 2012)

Go is one of the great games. The pencil and paper variant above is played on an infinite board. It can be played on normal graph paper, but here is a printable sheet. Black should start play in the centre. In the unusual case where students exceed the limits of the page – just use tape 😉  A pdf of the game above is to be found here.

Below left is a basic video explaining standard Go. To see how to play standard Go at a high level I encourage you to watch Nick Sibicky videos like the one below right.

Standards for Mathematical Practice

MathPickle puzzle and game designs engage a wide spectrum of student abilities while targeting the following Standards for Mathematical Practice:

MP1 Toughen up!

Students develop grit and resiliency in the face of nasty, thorny problems. It is the most sought after skill for our students.

MP2 Think abstractly!

Students take problems and reformat them mathematically. This is helpful because mathematics lets them use powerful operations like addition.

MP3 Work together!

Students discuss their strategies to collaboratively solve a problem and identify missteps in a failed solution. MathPickle recommends pairing up students for all its puzzles.

MP4 Model reality!

Students create a model that mimics the real world. Discoveries made by manipulating the model often hint at something in the real world.

MP5 Know the tools.

Students master the tools at their fingertips - whether it's a pencil or an online app. 

MP6 Be precise!

Students learn to communicate using precise terminology. MathPickle encourages students not only to use the precise terms of others, but to invent and rigorously define their own terms.

MP7 Be observant!

Students learn to identify patterns. This is one of the things that the human brain does very well. We sometimes even identify patterns that don't really exist 😉

MP8 Be lazy!?!

Students learn to seek for shortcuts. Why would you want to add the numbers one through a hundred if you can find an easier way to do it?


Please use MathPickle in your classrooms. If you have improvements to make, please contact me. I'll give you credit and kudos 😉 For a free poster of MathPickle's ideas on elementary math education go here.

Gordon Hamilton

(MMath, PhD)