Friday, April 07, 2006

Pick a card

How good are you at magic?

I ask Alex to pick any 5 cards out of a deck with no Jokers.

He can inspect then shuffle the deck before picking any five cards. He picks out 5 cards then hands them to me (Peter can't see any of this). I look at the cards and I pick 1 card out and give it back to Alex. I then arrange the other four cards in a special way, and give those 4 cards all face down, and in a neat pile, to Peter.

Peter looks at the 4 cards i gave him, and says out loud which card alex is holding (suit and number). How?

The solution uses pure logic, not slight of hand.


  1. Pick out two cards of the same suit. Select a card for Alex where adding a number no greater than six will result in the number of the other card of the same suit. Adding one to the Ace would cycle to the beginning again and result in a Two. E.g. if you have a King and a Six of Diamonds, hand the King to Alex. The other three cards will be used to encode a number from 1 through 6. Devise a system with Peter to rank all cards uniquely from 1 to 52 (e.g. the two of hearts is 1, the two of diamonds is fourteen etc...). That will allow you to choose from six combinations, depending on where you put the lowest and highest cards.

    1. How can wil you be able to encode a number from 1-6 from the other three cards? Please give me an example.


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