It has been a year since I reviewed the criteria used to select solutions for publication. Let me do so now.
As responses to problems arrive, they are simply put together in neat piles, with no regard to their date of arrival or postmark. When it is time for me to write the column in which solutions are to appear, I first weed out erroneous and illegible responses. For difficult problems, this may be enough; the most publishable solution becomes obvious. Usually, however, many responses still remain. I next try to select a solution that supplies an appropriate amount of detail and that includes a minimal number of characters that are hard to set in type. A particularly elegant solution is, of course, preferred, as are contributions from correspondents whose solutions have not previously appeared. I also favor solutions that are neatly written, typed, or sent via e-mail, since these produce fewer typesetting errors.
J/A 1. Larry Kells reports on an “oddball-sounding remark” he overheard at his bridge club. “That was an awfully risky grand slam you bid! You sure were lucky to get the six-zero trump break you needed to make it.” Naturally he was very curious but never did find out what had occasioned that remark. We are asking for help in solving this mystery.
J/A 2. Ken Rosatto has 12 identical coins and another that looks the same but weighs either more or less. He wants to find the oddball in three weighings using only a balance.
J/A 3. Rocco Giovanniello has a pyramidal variant of the tetrahedral “wink jumping” puzzle we published last year. The pyramid has four square layers. The top layer has one space, the second has four, the third nine, and the fourth 16. Each of the spaces except the top is occupied with a wink; the top is empty. The goal is to eliminate all but one wink by a sequence of 3-D checkerlike jumps.
David E. Brahm reports that a popular game in Naples, FL (at least, between his parents), is a dice game called farkle. A player gets points on his first throw if his dice either a) contain a one or a five, b) form three or more of a kind, or c) form three pairs. Otherwise the roll is a “farkle,” and the turn is over. What is the probability of rolling a farkle if six dice are used?