Date: 07/20/2001 at 10:43:05 From: Chad Warnimont Subject: Finding a rule or pattern Dear Dr. Math, I have been playing with this problem for a while and I can't seem to find a consistent rule that always works. The problem is: This is a game for two players on a rectangular grid with a fixed number of rows and columns. Play begins in the bottom left-hand square where the first player puts his mark. On his turn a player may put his mark into a square directly above, or directly to the right, or diagonally above and to the right of the last mark made by his opponent. Play continues in this fashion, and the winnner is the player who gets his mark in the upper right-hand corner first. Find a way of winning that an average player could understand and use. I have come up with a lot of conjectures, but all of the them are false, so I need a new perspective on the problem. Thank you, Chad
Date: 07/20/2001 at 15:41:53 From: Doctor Rob Subject: Re: Finding a rule or pattern Thanks for writing to Ask Dr. Math, Chad! Number the rows from top to bottom, 1 through r, and the columns from right to left, 1 through c. Denote the square in row m and column n by the pair (m,n). It turns out that whoever first puts a mark in an (odd,odd) square can force a win. Say it is player 1. When player 2 puts a mark next, player 1 duplicates his play: if 2 goes up, right, or diagonally, so does 1. That means that if the dimensions of the rectangle, r and c, are both odd, the first player wins, but if either or both are even, the second player wins. This is because the first mark is put in square (r,c). I leave it to you to prove that this works. - Doctor Rob, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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