12-Mg Journey thorugh Latin Europe

In English, many chemical elements, especially those synthetic, end their name in “-ium”, that is, they have a latinized form. Starting from a game we have played for years, we propose you to make a journey through the elements of Latin Europe, i.e., those having an European geographical name: the very Europium, but also others, like the double French (Gallium and Francium), that corresponding to Paris (Lutetium), that of a little Scottish village (Strontium), Moscow (Moscovium), Poland (Polonium), Germany (Germanum), and a little Swedish village (Terbium)

Please print the image below (or if you prefer, its pdf version), and grab a pencil and a coin or small pebble.



Spectators receive (or someone gets close to the blackboard) a 3×3 board containing squares with 9 names of chemical elements. The coin or pebble may be moved across the board using Chess rook movements, yet limited to just one square (or equivalently, movements of King, but never diagonally). The host (or the person playing standalone) gives instructions to everyone playing this game… and independently of the different, free choices, everyone reaches the same square as the final destination.

The game:

Please place a 1 EUR coin on any square, and move the coin as many squares as the number of letters of the element name in the chosen square (always up, down, left or right, never diagonally):

  • Place a 10 cent coin, or cross out, or place a post-it, at Terbium. This square cannot be used anymore.
  • Move the 1 EUR coin as many letters as “Tarragona”, and place another 10 cent coin, cross out, or place a postit at Lutetium. This square cannot be used anymore, either. (there are two forbidden squares, now)
  • Repeat using “Barcelona” and Gallium.
  • Repeat using “Retia” and Europium.
  • Repeat using “Tarraco” and Strontium.
  • Repeat using “Barcino” and Francium.
  • Repeat using “Cartago” and Moscovium

So far, there should be seven forbidden squares, which are crossed out, or contain seven 10-cent coins or post-its – and everyone has their 1 EUR coin or pebble at the Polonium square… the one asks for a final, additional move, spelling “Colonia”… and everyone finished at Germanium!

Isn’t it surprising?