Coin Toss Guess


Alice and Bob are playing a game. They are teammates, so they will win or lose together. Before the game starts, they can talk to each other and agree on a strategy.

When the game starts, Alice and Bob go into separate soundproof rooms — they cannot communicate with each other in any way. They each flip a coin and note whether it came up Heads or Tails. (No funny business allowed — it has to be an honest coin flip and they have to tell the truth later about how it came out.) Now Alice writes down a guess as to the result of Bob’s coin flip; and Bob likewise writes down a guess as to Alice’s flip.

If either or both of the written-down guesses turns out to be correct, then Alice and Bob both win as a team. But if both written-down guesses are wrong, then they both lose.

Can you think of a strategy Alice and Bob can use that is guaranteed to win every time?

Source published it in a blog article in May 2015.


Alice writes down whatever her coin turns out to be. Bob writes down the opposite of whatever his coin turns out to be. Explanation: Alice is guessing that the coin tosses turned out to be identical. Bob is guessing that the two coin tosses turned out to be different.

Previous Puzzle: Ant in a Room

An ant crawls from one corner of a room to the diametrically opposite corner along the shortest possible path. If the dimensions of the room are 3 x 4 x 5, what distance does the ant cover?

Next Puzzle: Cube Problems

Imagine a cube on a flat table, tantalizingly balanced on one of its vertices such that the vertex most distant from it is vertically above it. (a) What is the length of the shortest path an ant could take to go from the topmost vertex to the bottommost vertex? (b) What will be the projection on the table if there is a light source right above the cube? (c) What would be the cross-section obtained if we slice the cube along a plane parallel to the table, passing through the midpoint of the topmost and the bottommost points of the cube? (d) Split a large 3×3×3 cube into 27 small 1×1×1 cubes. An ant can burrow through one small cube to an adjacent small cube if these two cubes share a face. Can the ant burrow through all of the 27 small cubes, visiting each small cube exactly once? Can such a sequence have the additional property that the first and the last small cube share a face?

24 May 2015
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