Sharper than cards ... and Houdini-like to boot!

Any idea why on Diwali I’m treated like a prurient pariah? Especially when the big dads of the their respective dens spread that old bed sheet on the carpet, arm themselves with pillows, small eats an

Published: 21st January 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2017 08:42 AM   |  A+A-

Any idea why on Diwali I’m treated like a prurient pariah? Especially when the big dads of their respective dens spread that old bed sheet on the carpet, arm themselves with pillows, small eats and assorted clinky drinks and get ready for some major teen patti magic into the morning. Because even though they haven’t ever caught me at it, I cheat. Three aces flow in my blood like liquid Houdini.

In other words . . .  . . . In the three-card per person poker-like card game flush, a trio such as three aces, nines or twos or whatever is considered higher than a colour sequence of three adjacent cards belonging to the same suit such as the Ace, King and Queen of spades or Five, Six and Seven of diamonds or Nine, Ten and Jack of clubs, etc.

Logically, a hand with a lower probability should be considered higher in value, right? But some flush players find from years of losing money, patience and expertise that people get trios more often than colour sequences. Are they right?
(The older problem was: “In a 4 x 4 square grid name the top left square A and top right square B. In going from A to B what’s the maximum number of squares that a chess knight could touch, including A and B, if the knight makes only permissible moves, does not touch any square more than once and does not go outside the grid?”)

In the 4 x 4 grid, the squares are numbered from 1 - 16; the top row contains from left to right 1 to 4 numbered squares and the bottom row contains from left to right 13 to 16 numbered squares. Here the number 1 square corresponds to A and the number 4 square corresponds to B. In going from A to B, the maximum number of squares the knight can touch is 12. Serially the knight touches the squares numbered as follows: 1-10-3-5-14-7-9-15-6-13-11-4. If the constraint that it has to touch B is removed, then it can touch 15 squares:  1-10-16-7-9-15-8-2-11-13-6-12-14-5-3. -- Dr P Gnanaseharan,

(The second problem was: “A boiled egg and a raw egg start rolling down an endless ramp simultaneously. Which one rolls in the lead and why?”)

The internal degrees of freedom of the liquid in the raw egg will change its moment of inertia, affect its rotational motion, increase its friction and absorb part of the energy into  internal motion -- thus reducing its rotational kinetic energy. This does not happen with a boiled egg. Therefore a boiled egg rolls down faster and hence in the lead. – K Narayana Murty,

The boiled egg leads, as the yolk wobble inside the raw egg will slow it down. -- Rajesh Patil,

The boiled egg will lead as it becomes almost a solid unit. The raw egg has liquid inside whose internal rotational and angular motion will absorb part of the torque on it, leading to higher inertia than the inertia of the solidified boiled egg. -- Abhay Prakash,

(The third one was: “First list of five words: PRONE, VERSE, PALMIST, APRON, EVER. Second list of five words: PISTIL, PETAL, CALYX, SEPAL, ANTHER. Which word in the second list should come next in sequence as the sixth word in the first list?”)

The sixth word is SEPAL, taken from the second list. All the words in the first list are in order such that each of their letters is repeated after 17 places in between them, as in the first letter P in the word PRONE appears again at the 19th place in the word APRON. Next letter R appears next, and so on. Thus the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th letters S, E, P, A, L are to repeat  at 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st places giving the word SEPAL. -- Seshagiri Row Karry,

SEPAL should come next in sequence. With aPRON and Ever we get the word PRONE, which is the first word in the first list. That leaves us with VER and we need SE to get the next word. SEpal provides that. --  J Vaseekhar Manuel,
But Google This Now

1. A hiker wants to walk across a desert, a journey of 10 days. He can only carry five days worth of food and water, so he will have to hike part way across and leave food caches to pick up later. How long will it take him to set out the caches and cross the desert?
2. SUM = 5187, CUBE = 630, MANY = ?

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

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