Saturday, November 24, 2001
M I N D  G A M E S

Placement of an athlete

SURPRISES wait in ambush for their natural prey, the unprepared… and little gymnast girl is unprepared for the fame that comes with her victory in the Olympics. Her luck continues in all tournaments that follow, but as Bagehot Walter had said: life is a school of probability. After such a successful career, there is always a statistical probability of retirement, more so because a gymnast's career is short. Age catches up with her and the time comes for her to quit international sport and choose another profession, but she is unable to bear the loss of her popularity. She had hardly got used to it when it just vanished.

Like every retired international athlete, she, too, realises that if you don't have school and college education, gold medals don't get you a job, so, she decides to rejoin the school where her former schoolmates now teach. She gets good marks in all subjects, but mathematics, which keeps her away from job placements, while she continues to drop year after year. Here, she makes the toughest decision of her life - to rejoin international sport.


Today is tomorrow's yesterday

"When the day after tomorrow is yesterday," said Priscilla, "then 'today' will be as far from Sunday as that day was which was 'today' when the day before yesterday was tomorrow!" Which day is today? — Sam Loyd. Those who know should write at Mind Games, Windows, The Tribune, or Madan Lal Dipta of Keeth village in Himachal Pradesh also decoded Henry's final answer.

She reads on the school notice board that Olympic team trials are on, for which, one of her former schoolmates and now her mathematics teacher is the selector. "I am here for the Olympic trials," she tells him. "It is a tough trial and you haven't been good lately. Are you prepared?" he says. "I have been through this before," "In that case, you can begin right now. The qualifying question is: Given the five Olympic rings, how can the digits one to nine be placed within the nine regions (five non-overlapping ring regions and four overlapping regions shared between two rings), so that, each ring contains the same total?" says the teacher. "Is this a joke?" "No, it's the trial. You can return with the answer whenever you like and I'll put you on the Olympic team."

She begins spending more time than ever in the library, with mathematics books. She learns how to bend her mind the way she once bent her body in the Olympic arena and falls in love with the subject. One day, she returns to the teacher. "I have the answer. There can be four solutions to the problem: 9+2, 2+5+4, 4+6+1, 1+7+3, 3+8; Sum=11. 9+4, 4+1+8, 8+3+2, 2+5+6, 6+7; Sum=13. 7+6, 6+5+2, 2+8+3, 3+1+9, 9+4; Sum=13. 8+6, 6+1+7, 7+4+3, 3+2+9, 9+5; Sum=14. Am I on the team, now?" Teacher: "Sure, get ready, we leave tonight." Gymnast: "I'll get my track suits." "What for? It is a Mathematics Olympiad that you are going to." "Why didn't you tell me before?" "Had I told you, would you have tried so hard?" She gets another Olympic gold, bags a good job and become a renowned mathematician in the second half of her life, but, is there a general formula for finding what she found?