Taking delight in times tables | Letters

Mathematically mature readers respond to a recent Guardian article by Peter Bradshaw A teacher helps a schoolboy with his times tables. Photograph: Ian Shaw/Alamy The usefulness of multiplication tables lies not in their practical application – though they can help one to avoid being bamboozled by supermarket offers – but in the beauty and symmetry…

I’ve never known my times tables. Frankly, who needs them? | Peter Bradshaw

The ministerial diktat to make children learn multiplication by rote is silly. Surely there are more important things ‘Times tables are a Gradgrindian chanting fetish periodically revived by politicians who have never really needed times tables.’ Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA What’s nine sevens? Quick, quick! Nine sevens. Now, some people can answer that straight away, with…

Did you solve it? The joy of grids

Alex Bellos’s Monday puzzle The solutions to today’s puzzles On the grid: a scene from 1982 film Tron. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/DISNEY On my puzzle blog earlier today I set you the following three problems about this grid: A polygon is a shape where each side is made from a straight line. Draw a polygon in the…

Can you solve it? The joy of grids

Alex Bellos’s Monday puzzle Dot-to-dot puzzles that hit the spot Part of the poster for TRON, the joyous 1982 film set in a grid.Photograph: Everett Collection / Rex Feature Hi guzzlers, Today, three challenges using this grid of 16 dots: 1. A polygon is a shape where each side is made from a straight line.…