Mathematics has hundreds of different applications in everyday life, from helping you choose the best deals at the supermarket, to baking the perfect sponge cake, to allowing a Romanian mathematician to win the lottery 14 times. But no matter how much we unconsciously use maths on a daily basis, we could all do with a bit more confidence in this area. This is where playing games can come in; perennial favourites like chess, go and blackjack all use maths in such a way that you can improve your basic skills at the same time as having fun. Enjoying yourself as you learn can have a significant impact on how much information you retain, so if you want to improve your maths skills, it might be worth turning to one of the traditional games below for a helping hand.

## Sudoku

Sudoku has seen a boom in popularity over the past decade or so, with grids now regularly being included in the backs of newspapers and magazines alongside the usual crossword puzzle. A full-size standard sudoku grid is 9×9 squares and consists of nine smaller 3×3 grids within the whole. The aim of the game is to make sure that each 3×3 grid contains the numbers 1-9 once, and each row and column across the wider grid does the same.

The key to sudoku is using mathematical thinking outside of the basic arithmetic of adding, subtracting and multiplying. Rather, the puzzler needs to use combinatorics (or counting skills) and computational complexity (or applying mathematical steps to the problem) in order to solve the grid. The satisfaction of solving a sudoku has people all over the world hooked and the good news is that there are plenty of sources from which to get your fix. Sudoku.com is the obvious place to head to, but you can also find great puzzles at The Guardian online and at Readers Digest games.

## Casino Games

Much of the appeal of the casino comes from the associated glitz, glamour and high-class patrons, but once you strip that all away, what are you left with? The answer is enduring, entertaining games based on maths and numbers. There’s a reason why games such as poker, blackjack and baccarat are so popular all over the world and that is because they are enjoyable games which require many different skills to succeed in. The sense of satisfaction felt by the winner of a game of Texas Hold’em comes not just from their pile of chips, but also from the knowledge that they’ve beaten the competition using intelligence and technique.

Online casinos are a great place to explore the different game formats from the comfort of your own home. As you become more familiar with the intricacies of poker or blackjack, you’ll find your confidence grows when applying this experience to other areas of your life too. Sites such as Pokerstarscasino.com offer a wide range of games, both online and live with real dealers.

## Dominoes

The iconic image of a domino tile is one that most people are familiar with from childhood. It can be a great way to introduce maths skills yet is complex enough to keep adults playing for their entire lives. It’s an ancient game harking from sometime in the 13^{th} century and it originated in China. However, the version that most people now play in the Western world appeared in Italy in the 18^{th} century. Since then, it’s become a favourite pastime for many people as well as a competitive sport.

The maths of dominoes lies in being able to correctly predict which tiles your opponent may have at their disposal, in order to be able to block their progress in the game. There are all kinds of different maths problems that can crop up in a game of dominoes and you will find that, as you play, you are reinforcing your maths skills without even realising it. Of course, the best way to play dominoes is with a friend and a physical set of tiles; however, you can find online games on popular host sites.

Perhaps the most classic cerebral games are chess and go. Whilst chess is, at its heart, a strategy game, it does utilise mathematical problem solving skills within gameplay and the process of solving a chess board is very similar to that used when approaching a maths problem. Go is, similarly, a strategy game and may be the oldest board game still played in the modern world. Like dominoes, it originates in China and uses the skills mentioned earlier based in computational complexity and combinatorial game theory; in fact, playing go contributed to the development of the latter theory.

This just goes to show that maths really is everywhere and by indulging in this fun and diverting pastimes, you could be strengthening your mathematical skills without ever reaching for an exercise book.