The Hitch-Hiker’s a tricky terrain! - The New Indian Express

The Hitch-Hiker’s a tricky terrain!

Published: 03rd August 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 02nd August 2014 02:32 PM

Once upon a time when I casually used to play inferior level club bridge, two nicely married opponents (but not to each other) lost it so badly during the post-mortem that they split their affair right there for about a week in front of my precision Italian Blue eyes. This is so true that I feel bad giving such a difficult one. If you’ve ever had an extramarital while leading a double life you’d know what I never meant.

The first thing is, the heck with A, B, C and D. Instead, W, X, Y and Z are playing a card game in which three cards from each player’s holding remains to be played and in which one of four ‘suits’ -- clubs(C), diamonds (D), hearts (H), spades (S) -- is the ‘high suit’. The play of four cards, one from each player’s holding, is a ‘trick’; the suit of the card played first in a trick is the ‘suit led’.

Now, (1) The distribution of the four suits on the cards held by the four players is as follows. W’s holding: C-H-D; X’s holding: C-S-S; Y’s holding: C-H-H; Z’s holding: S-D-D. (2a) A player has to play a card in the suit led, if possible, at each trick. (2b) If s/he cannot do (2a), s/he has to play a card in the high, if possible. (2c) If s/he cannot do (2b) s/he can play any card. (3) Each of the remaining three tricks contains in part: the suit card led, just one other card in the same suit, and a card in the high suit which wins the trick. (4) A player who wins a trick has to lead at the next trick. Which suit is the high one?


The problem was: “What number comes next in the sequence: 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, ? -- submitted by Shashi Shekher Thakur,

Your column is thoroughly enjoyed by all our family on Sundays  Anyway, the next number in the sequence of 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11 is 100. This is the sequence of numbers that are without a ‘T’ in them. -- Devika Priyadarsini,  

The other problem was: “When you step on wet sand on a beach, the sand around your foot immediately dries out and turns white for a short while. Why?”

When we step on wet sand the mineral content within the grains of sand is subjected to compression and friction causing heat energy to be released in the form of sparks, resulting in a white colour for the sand for a short while. Also, due to the heat generated due to friction, the sand around the foot immediately dries out. -- Dr  K N Murty,  

When you step on wet sand, the wet sand particles under the foot get more separated absorbing the water around the foot and making the footprint dry inside and around for a few moments. I am elated that I got the answer without Googling. -- Ramakrishna Bhogadi,

Not exactly quite. The correct answer is that the sand expands when stepped on. Prior to the pressure of your foot, the sand grains were as closely packed as possible. But as your foot sinks in, the same sand is displaced and forced to occupy more volume and, therefore, it rises up. When it does, it leaves the water in it behind. Before the water catches up through capillary action, the sand is drier and, thus, looks whiter.

(Regarding the modified Russian Roulette problem) I think I would shoot without spinning. Intuitively, it makes sense because if I spin and shoot I am constraining all subsequent shots. However if I don’t spin then the option is open for B to spin or again A to spin. And so on. Thereby keeping options open. -- Altaf Ahmed,

For a bang to lose:  I’d keep spinning and taking a shot as the probability remains 1/6. For a bang to win: I’d shoot continuously with, no spin as the probability starts increasing by 1/6 of getting a shot. -- Charles Murzello,  


1. The Friendly Society meets once a month and the rule is that every member present shakes hands once with every other member present. At the first meeting there were 15 members present. At the second meeting there were exactly twice as many handshakes as at the first meeting. How many members were present at the second meeting?

2. Think about a wheel A with diameter x, rolling around a fixed wheel B with diameter 2x. How many revolutions about its own axis will wheel A make in rolling once around wheel B?

— Sharma is a scriptwriter and former editor of Science Today magazine.


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