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Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays, volume 2

Elwyn R. Berlekamp, John Horton Conway and Richard K. Guy
A K Peters
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The Basic Library List Committee considers this book essential for undergraduate mathematics libraries.

[Reviewed by
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
, on

I'm happy to see the second volume of the A K Peters reprint of Winning Ways, by Elwyn R. Berlekamp, John H. Conway, and Richard K. Guy. The original edition was in two volumes (and, if memory serves me correctly, used a lot of color). It was quite expensive and is now essentially impossible to get. (Searching for it on, I found four copies of the new edition but none at all of the original.)

The new edition splits each of the original volumes into two, and uses much less color. At almost $40 a pop for each of the four volumes, it doesn't come out to be much less expensive, but the new format at least allows one to buy it piecemeal. The book itself is so well known that one hardly needs to comment. This is the book that created the modern theory of combinatorial games, a lively subject that continues to generate interest. (See for example Games of No Chance and its sequel More Games of No Chance.) Volume one dealt with the basic theory of such games. This volume, subtitled "Change of Heart!", explores what happens when some of the rules established in that first book are broken. So we get discussions of loopy games and other infinite games, misère play, and so on. So: interesting mathematics, fun games, and a whole new area to explore make this an indispensable book.

Fernando Q. Gouvêa is the editor of MAA Reviews.


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