Minesweeper

'Use probability and logic to win at Minesweeper' 

Minesweeper is a great  game to play. However, if you want to win, you will have to consider all the consequences of your choices.  You will see from the game on the left that the person playing lost.  By uncovering a mine, they have blown themselves up!  The aim of the game is to avoid doing this, yet predict where all the mines are.  There is a little luck involved at the start, but by considering probabilities, you can minimize your risks and produce a successful strategy to win.

Resources

You will need access to a computer to play a few games of minesweeper.  You might well already have the game installed on your computer.  Alternatively, you can use this online version minesweeperonline.com
To start with at least, you should play in beginner mode.

There is a follow up worksheet to get you to think about how to make the best decisions  Analysing Minesweeper

Rules

The aim of the game is to clear a minefield without detonating a mine!  Starting in beginner mode, there are 81 cells hiding 10 randomly placed mines.  If a square is clicked to reveal a mine then the player loses and blows him or herself up! Otherwise a digit is revealed.  This number tells the player the amount of mines there are in the immediately surrounding cells.  

In this example, we can see that one mine lies in the orange cells and another mine behind the green cells.

With enough information, you should be able to use logical thinking to deduce which cells are mine free (which you can then safely click) and which cells hide a mine (which you can mark with a flag). The game is won when all mine-free squares are revealed, meaning that all mines have been located.

Here is an example of how a game might run:


 

Never played minesweeper before?  This might help:

Description

Here follows an outline of what the task is. 

  • Play a few games of minesweeper. Think carefully about where the mines might be and try not to guess. 
  • Don’t worry about the clock.  Aim to be successful rather than fast!
  • Now answer the questions from the worksheet  Analysing Minesweeper
  • Your explanations should be short, clear and easy to follow.  Try asking a partner if they make sense.
  • In your own time, you could play the game again.  You should be more successful now that you understand the probabilities and can think logically about the problems!
  • Playing logic and strategy puzzles is really good for improving your understanding in mathematics.  Here are some other you could try puzzles.com
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