AGazine, November 2018

The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America

Layman Allen Calendar of Events Outstanding Senior Down Memory Lane Past AGazines


R.I.P. Layman Allen

It is with great sadness that we report the recent passing of Layman Allen, the Founder of Academic Games. He created WFF ‘N PROOF, EQUATIONS, and ON-SETS and started the Michigan League of Academic Games.

As a law professor at Yale in the early 1960s, Layman felt that the legal establishment was writing ambiguous laws – laws that were not clear or intended by the writer. So he invented WFF ‘N PROOF as a means of teaching law students to think logically.

Dr. Allen moved to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan shortly after WFF ‘N PROOF was published. While teaching at the Law School, he was approached by others to expand his logic game to accommodate mathematical practices and skills normally taught in school curricula. With the help of Dr. Joan Ross, Layman created a Resource Allocation Game called EQUATIONS – The Game of Creative Mathematics and introduced it into the schools in Ann Arbor. Studies were done that showed that regular playing of EQUATIONS increased students’ math skills significantly.

In the meantime, Layman’s younger brother, Robert, started Academic Games leagues in their hometown of Pittsburgh and in Fort Lauderdale, FL. With his assistant, Larry Liss, Bob conducted the first Academic Games National Tournament in Fort Lauderdale in 1966 with WFF ‘N PROOF and EQUATIONS as the featured games. Layman introduced a second offshoot of WFF ‘N PROOF, ON-SETS, at the second nationals in 1967.

A few years later, he convinced the Mathematics Coordinator of the Detroit Public Schools to use EQUATIONS to teach math in all middle schools. With this impetus, the Michigan league quickly developed into the largest in the land, a distinction it still enjoys.

It is impossible to measure the debt that the Academic Games community owes to Mr. Layman Allen. While he will be sorely missed, his legacy lives on.


Calendar of Events

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Outstanding Senior: Trevor Wood

Congratulations to Trevor Wood of the Franklin Area School District in Pennsylvania. He finished an 11-year career in Academic Games by winning an Outstanding Senior Award at the 2018 Nationals in Knoxville. Here are excerpts from his nomination by his coach, Jim Ivell, attesting to his prowess as a player as well as his leadership qualities.

Trevor has been undefeated in Equations for ten straight years. He has also excelled in LinguiSHTIK, Propaganda, and On-Sets. He played Theme for the first time this year and won the Senior Division.

He has organized practices at his home for his own team and players from nearby districts. He has also mentored all the younger players at Franklin High since he was in the Elementary Division. He has instructed the games to all of my Junior and Senior Division players for the past five years. At a Nationals training day for players, he has been the instructor for On-Sets and Equations for players in the league for the past two years. His love of the games has been evident in his willingness to teach his competitors the strategies necessary to win. He exemplifies the qualities we hope to leave our students. His absence in my program will be felt by all the remaining players as he routinely spends his lunch sparring with the younger players.

Trevor has qualified [for nationals] for nine straight years. His caring attitude has encouraged younger players since he began the games. He speaks at (or above) the level of our coaches in the math games. He is a humble young man with every reason to be the opposite.


Down Memory Lane

In August 1968, the Academic Games Rules Committee held its first meeting in Turtle Creek, PA, at the home of Layman and Bob Allen’s parents. Present in addition to Layman and Bob were Larry Liss (FL), Jim Davis (PA), Gene Brown (PA), and Brother Neal Golden (LA). The outcome of the meeting was the first set of Tournament Rules for the games played at the national tournament: WFF ‘N PROOF, EQUATIONS, Propaganda, and On-Sets. The biggest change in any game resulting from the meeting was a richer set of EQUATIONS variations for each age division. Here are some of those variations. (Note what the divisions were in those days.)

ELEMENTARY (Grade 6-below)

  1. All players are forbidden to play any numeral in Required.
  2. When a player moves a cube to either the Permitted or the Required section, he may arrange the cube moved and any other cubes in that section into a group which represents a number. If the cubes so arranged are used in the Solution, they must be used as so grouped.
  3. The – cube may designate the negative property as well as subtraction.
  4. At least one operation cube must be used in setting the Goal.
  5. Multiplying by zero is forbidden.

JUNIOR (Grades 7-9)

  1. #1, 2, 4, and 5 above.
  2. In building a Solution, any number cube played in the Permitted or Required sections may be used upside down to stand for the additive inverse of that number.
  3. All players are forbidden to play any cube in Forbidden.
  4. All players are forbidden to play any cube in Permitted.
  5. The Solution must contain a * (exponentiation operator).
  6. The 0 cube may stand for any one whole number from 0 to 9, inclusive.
  7. A three-cube Goal of the following form may be set: AB+. This is to be interpreted as a repeating decimal. It may be interpreted as .ABABAB… or as .ABBBB…
  8. Using zero as an exponent is forbidden.
  9. A Solution need not equal the Goal but, if it differs, must differ from the Goal by a multiple of 6.
  10. Both sides of the equation are permitted to be interpreted either as base-8 expressions or as base-10 expressions, but the Solution must be interpreted as being an expression of the same base as the Goal.
  11. The + cube shall not represent addition, but rather it shall represent the operation of averaging two numbers.

SENIOR (Grades 10-12) – all the Junior variations plus the following.

    1. Each player is required to make a bonus play on each of his turns if it is possible to do so without Flubbing.
    2. The – cube may stand for any one operation that is on the cubes.
    3. The x cube may stand for any one number or any one operation that is on the cubes.
    4. The * cube shall not represent exponentiation. Instead, it shall represent the operation of least common multiple.
    5. The – cube shall not represent subtraction. Instead, it shall represent the operation of least common multiple.
    6. When building a Solution, a player must specify where decimal points occur in the Goal. No decimal points are allowed in the Solution.

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