Preface

Does a book need a Preface? What more, after fifteen years of toil, do three talented authors have to add? We can reassure the bookstore browser, "Yes, this is just the book you want!" We can direct you, if you want to know quickly what's in the book, to the last page of this preliminary material. This in turn directs you to Volume 1, Volime 2, Volume 3 and Volume 4.

We can supply the reviewer, faced with the task of ploughing through nearly a thousand information-packed pages, with some pithy criticisms by indicating the horns of the polylemma the book finds itself on. It is not an encyclopedia. It is encyclopedic, but there are still too many games missing for it to claim to be complete. It is not a book on recreational mathematics because there's too much serious mathematics in it. On the other hand, for us, as for our predecessors Rouse Ball, Dudeney, Martin Gardner, Kraitchik, Sam Loyd, Lucas, Tom O'Beirne and Fred. Schuh, mathematics itself is a recreation. It is not an undergraduate text, since the exercises are not set out in an orderly fashion, with the easy ones at the beginning. They are there though, and with the hundred and sixty-three mistakes we've left in, provide plenty of opportunity for reader participation. So don't just stand back and admire it, work of art though it is. It is not a graduate text, since it's too expensive and contains far more than any graduate student can be expected to learn. But it does carry you to the frontiers of research in combinatorial game theory and the many unsolved problems will stimulate further discoveries.

We thank Patrick Browne for our title. This exercised us for quite a time. One morning, while walking to the university, John and Richard came up with "Whose game?" but realized they couldn't spell it (there are three tooze in English) so it became a one-line joke on line one of the text. There isn't room to explain all the jokes, not even the fifty-nine private ones (each of our birthdays appears more than once in the book).

Omar started as a joke, but soon materialized as Kimberly King. Louise Guy also helped with proof-reading, but her greater contribution was the hospitality which enabled the three of us to work together on several occasions. Louise also did technical typing after many drafts had been made by Karen McDermid and Betty Teare.

Our thanks for many contributions to content may be measured by the number of names in the index. To do real justice would take too much space. Here's an abridged list of helpers: Richard Austin, Clive Bach, John Beasley, Aviezri Fraenkel, David Fremlin, Solomon Golomb, Steve Grantham, Mike Guy, Dean Hickerson, Hendrik Lenstra, Victor Meally, Richard Nowakowski, Anne Scott, David Seal, John Selfridge, Cedric Smith and Steve Tschantz.

No small part of the reason for the assured success of the book is owed to the well-informed and sympathetic guidance of Len Cegielka and the willingness of the staff of Academic Press and of Page Bros. to adapt to the idiosyncrasies of the authors, who grasped every opportunity to modify grammar, strain semantics, pervert punctuation, alter orthography, tamper with traditional typography and commit outrageous puns and inside jokes, We have taken the opportunity of reprinting to make some slight additions and corrections.

Thanks also to the Isaak Walton Killam Foundation for Richard's Resident Fellowship at The University of Calgary during the compilation of a critical draft, and to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for a grant which enabled Elwyn and John to visit him more frequently than our widely scattered habitats would normally allow.

And thank you, Simon!

University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720Elwyn Berlekamp
University of Cambridge, England, CB2 ISBJohn Conway
University of Calgary, Canada, T2N IN4Richard Guy
  
November 1981

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