Chris Sangwin and I wrote a LaTeX package for drawing Hex boards and games called hexboard. It can produce diagrams like this.

First: why? Then: how do you use it?

Chris Sangwin and I wrote a LaTeX package for drawing Hex boards and games called hexboard. It can produce diagrams like this.

First: why? Then: how do you use it?

A while ago on this blog I shared a LaTeX macro I had written for drawing games of Nim. I have now taken the plunge and written this into a LaTeX package called nimsticks. (Why? What do you do to relax on a lazy Sunday morning?)

Here is the description of the nimsticks package:

This LaTeX package provides commands

`\drawnimstick`

to draw a single nim stick and`\nimgame`

which represents games of multi-pile Nim. Nim sticks are drawn with a little random wobble so they look ‘thrown together’ and not too regular.

What this does it allows commands such as `\nimgame{5,3,4}`

which renders like this:

A while ago, my son did the Prime Climb colouring sheet.

You know what’s fun? Typesetting mathematics! Glad you agree, because here’s a game that puts the fun in ‘underfilled hbox’.

In TeXnique, you’re shown a typeset bit of mathematical notation, and have to frantically type LaTeX to reproduce it. You get three minutes, and you’re awarded points when you produce something that’s a pixel-perfect replica of the original. Think *Typing of the Dead* crossed with *The Art of Computer Programming*.

When I first saw this I rolled my eyes, but now my high score is 68 and I don’t know why I keep going back to it.

The formulas are largely well-known snippets of notation, so you might find some of them coming out through muscle memory, but if a symbol shows up that you can’t remember the macro for, there’s always the brilliant Detexify tool.

**Play:** texnique.xyz by Akshay Ravikumar.

A few months ago, Adam Townsend went to lunch and had a conversation. I wasn’t there, but I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Adam: Hello.Smitha: Hello.Adam: How are you?Smitha: Not bad. I’ve had a funny idea, actually.Adam: Yes?Smitha: You know how the\hat command in LaTeΧ puts a caret above a letter?… Well I was thinking it would be funny if someone made a package that made the \hat command put a picture of an actual hat on the symbol instead?Adam: (After a few hours of laughter.) I’ll see what my flatmate is up to this weekend…Jeff: What on Earth are you two talking about?!

As anyone who has been anywhere near maths at a university in the last ∞ years will be able to tell you, LaTeΧ (or $\LaTeX$) is a piece of maths typesetting software. It’s a bit like a version of Word that runs in terminal and makes PDFs with really pretty equations.

By default, LaTeΧ can’t do very much, but features can easily added by importing packages: importing the

For a diagram for a class this week, I’ve written a LaTeX command to draw star graphs using TikZ. A star graph $K_{1,n}$ is a graph with a single central node, $n$ radial nodes, and $n$ edges connecting the central node to each radial node. I am sharing this here in case it is useful to anyone else.

**Update July 2020:** I have now taken the plunge and written this into a LaTeX package called nimsticks. The version in the package is an improved version of the macro given below in a couple of ways – it works with LuaTeX and XeTeX, and it has both block-centred and inline modes. I describe this in a new blog post nimsticks: LaTeX package for drawing Nim sticks and games.

I am preparing to teach our new final year module ‘Game Theory and Recreational Mathematics’. So I’m thinking about game typesetting in LaTeX (texlive-games is useful in this regard). I was looking for an easy way to display multi-pile Nim games. Usually, I find searching “latex thing” finds numerous options for typesetting “thing” in LaTeX, but here I was struggling.

Nim objects could be anything, of course, but conventionally sticks or stones are used. There are various types of dot in LaTeX that might look like stones, but somehow a line of dots didn’t seem satisfactory. There are various ways to draw a line (not least simply typing ‘|’), including some tally markers (e.g. in hhcount). My problem with these (call me picky) is that they are all identical lines, and a ‘heap’ of them just looks very organised. Really, I want a set of lines that looks like someone just threw them into heaps (though probably without crossings for the avoidance of ambiguity). So I wrote my own.