Although the origin of this game is uncertain, many people say this simple game probably came from a game in China called Jian Shi Zi, or “picking stones.” Historians have found similar games in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, as far back as the 15th Century and all with slightly varying rules. One unproven, but palpable theory is that the game might have spread via the Silk Road in China. Whatever the case may be, your children will learn the rules of this strategic game quickly and be able to play anywhere, any time, with only 16 small objects.
Set up the 16 small objects as shown, in consecutive rows of 7, 5, 3, and 1 (Nim is commonly played with matchsticks or small stones). The first player must choose a row and can pick up as many or as few objects as she wishes. The game continues in turn-taking until a player has to pick up the last object- this player loses. The goal is to leave your opponent with the single, final object. Even children as young as 5 can understand the simple rules, though the older the player, the more game strategy will be used. Once you have figured out some of this strategy, try to play against the computer on-line.