On Dec. 24, try playing the 24 game. Not the one named after the Fox show. Devised by Robert Sun, an inventor born in Shanghai, the 24 game requires players to combine four numbers, usually from 1 to 9, using basic mathematical operations to form the number 24.

That number has eerie properties, if you look hard enough. But the special mathematical properties that make it an ideal star for the game are easier to spot: It has many factors, besides itself and 1 — 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 12 — so there are many routes to reaching 24 using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, with parentheses to indicate order of operation.

For instance, given 3 4 8 9, you could add the four numbers, or you could multiply (8-4) by (9-3). Or you could multiply (8/4) by (9+3).

Or try 1 2 3 8. You can multiply 3 by (2-1) by 8. Or you can divide 8 by (1-(2/3)). Or multiply 8 by 3 by (2-1). Or several other possibilities.

Sun’s company sells an official game with cards listing four numbers and indicating the difficulty of the problem. You can also dream up your own set of four digits and get to work. Here’s the one that a friend sent me and that tormented me over Thanksgiving weekend: 3 3 8 8. Give it a shot in the comments. And to save you the searching, there’s an online computer program that solves the game. But please don’t post ill-gotten solutions in the comments.