The Blind Bartender
The following game is played between a customer and a bartender.
The customer places four glasses on a revolving
tray, arranged in a circle. Each glass is either right-side-up
or upside down. The bartender is blindfolded and
cannot see which way the glasses
are placed, but the goal is to turn all the glasses
the same direction.
In each round, the tray is spun, and the bartender is allowed to
touch only two glasses, turning over either or both of them. After
each round, the bartender is told if all glasses are oriented the
same and the game is over. What is the best strategy for the
bartender? Is there a maximum number of moves, after which the
bartender can be certain all the glasses are identically oriented?
There are several variations to this problem worth trying as well:
- The above problem
- Problem 1, but there are now 6 glasses in a circle, and any 4 of them
can be touched in each round.
- Problem 1. Any number of glasses may be flipped, but the bartender
wears boxing gloves and cannot determine the orientation of the glasses.
An additional requirement in this version is that the game is
over when all glasses are right-side up.
- Problem 3. Only one or two glasses may be flipped at one time.
1. rec.puzzles. 2. Original. 3.
Duke U. Assignment Web page
Penn State Math Dept. Web page
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