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Sprouts

The Game of Sprouts was invented in 1967 by Princeton mathematician John H. Conway and by Michael S. Paterson, when both were at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Here is a quote from Conway:

"The day after sprouts sprouted, it seemed that everyone was playing it, at coffee or tea times, there were little groups of people peering over ridiculous to fantastic sprout positions."

Equipment:

Paper and pencil

Number of players:

2

The Set-up:

A smallish number of spots are drawn.

Your move:

Join two spots, or one spot to itself, with a curve which cannot touch or cross any other curve or spot. Now place a new spot on this new curve. No spot can have more than three curves attached to it.

You win:

If your opponent has no valid move.

Comments:

Here is a complete sample game starting with 2 spots:

Variations:

See Brussels Sprouts

Links:

  1. A Paper & Pencil Games Page that features Sprouts and gives an animated demonstration!
  2. Sprouts for Spring an article by Ivar Peterson with a description, sample game, discussion and references.
  3. Read the Maths Forum discussion on The Game of Sprouts
  4. Raed the Math Forum discussion on Sprouts Notation
  5. Read more discussion on Sprouts Notation
  6. Speaking of Sprouts... more discussion
  7. An Applet to download (if you know how to work them!) from the University of Utah that allows you to play the computer at Sprouts.
  8. The World Game of Sprouts Association home page
  9. David Molnar's Sprouts page
  10. Sprouts: Analyzing a Simple Game An article by Susan K. Eddins, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

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