Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Chess Riddle Solved

I had posed the following riddle. Two guys play five games of chess. They win an equal number of games, but there are no draws. How is this possible?

As Norm Weatherby pointed out in an e-mail message, it is possible if they are not playing each other. Suppose Bill plays two games against Sam and wins both, while Ron plays three games against Dave and wins two. Then what we have are two guys (Bill and Ron), who play five games of chess, with no draws.

The riddle is interesting because it illustrates the human tendency to make unwarranted assumptions. One 'naturally' assumes that if two people play chess, they play each other. But 'two guys play chess' does not entail 'two guys play chess with each other.' One ought to be careful about what one assumes. Otherwise, to invoke an old chestnut, one might make an ASS out of U and ME.

I thank Norm and the rest of you who have linked to this weblog. I owe you return links. I will provide them in due course. But first I have to overcome a little ignorance and a lot of laziness.