Banking magnate Uncle X , greatly admired by his nieces and nephews once removed, was visiting from London just recently. He had a wonderful idea for positively encouraging my children's mathematical skills, by teaching them how to play an entertaining game.
"OK, so here's how we play the game: one of us has to - we take it in turns, OK, everyone will get a chance to do this, but I'll start just to show you how to play it, OK? So, we think of a number between 0 and 100, and - no, don't say it out loud, it's supposed to be a secret, OK? So you think of a number, and you don't tell anyone, you just keep it in your head, and everyone else - you can't remember it? OK, you can use a mobile phone and write it on the display - you don't have a mobile phone, do you? Well, we can write it down, but... you can't let anyone see it. Oh, I know, how about a calculator, you must have one of those, right? OK, so you can punch your number into your calculator display and once you've done that, everyone else has to try to guess what number you were thinking of. No, it isn't too difficult, because when we guess - no, not yet, I haven't thought of my number yet, OK? We take it in turns to guess and - OK, OK, you can go first and your sister - well we can't both start first, can we, so let's just say the oldest starts first, OK? And when you take a guess, then - no, don't guess now, I haven't thought of my number yet, I'm STILL EXPLAINING THE GAME TO YOU, OK? OK. So. Are we ready? Good. So when you tell me your guess, I say 'higher' or 'lower', and the next person will know to guess a higher number or a lower number, OK?"
As I watched my children interacting with Uncle X, I marveled at his bachelor's patience with their incessant squeals and constant interruptions. Being a banker, he must love numbers, I thought, but where did he gain this intuition to interact with children in a mathematical way?
"Who do you play this game with?" I asked innocently, hoping to acquire some information about his love life; to my knowledge, he had not sired any offspring himself, so maybe his latest girlfriend was a single mother.
"It's a pub game," he replied.
"A pub game?"
"Yeah, every time you answer incorrectly, you have to down a pint."
So that explains it, OK?
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