2016 USAMO Problems/Problem 6
Integers and are given, with You play the following game against an evil wizard.
The wizard has cards; for each there are two cards labeled Initially, the wizard places all cards face down in a row, in unknown order.
You may repeatedly make moves of the following form: you point to any of the cards. The wizard then turns those cards face up. If any two of the cards match, the game is over and you win. Otherwise, you must look away, while the wizard arbitrarily permutes the chosen cards and turns them back face-down. Then, it is your turn again.
We say this game is if there exist some positive integer and some strategy that is guaranteed to win in at most moves, no matter how the wizard responds.
For which values of and is the game winnable?
We first prove that the game is winnable whenever by demonstrating a winning strategy in this case.
On the th move, choose the cards in positions through Assuming that you do not win on any earlier move, repeat this for
Assume that you did not win on any of the first moves, as described above. Let be an integer such that On the th move, the wizard revealed the cards in positions through so you know the labels of all of these cards (just not necessarily in the right order). Then, on the th move, the wizard revealed the cards in positions through which means that you get to see all of the cards that were moved to positions through This means that you can uniquely determine the label on card since you knew all of the labels from through and the card in position could not have moved anywhere else since your last move.
It follows that, after the sequence of moves described above, you know the labels on the first cards. Since we have so there must be a pair of cards with matching labels in this group of cards, by the Pigeonhole Principle. On your next move, you can pick a group of cards that includes that pair of matching cards, and you win.
We have created a strategy that is guaranteed to win in at most moves. Thus, the game is winnable for all
We now prove that the game is not winnable if We will say that the game is in a state if your knowledge about the card labels is of the following form:
There exists a group of cards for which you know that those cards have all of the labels (i.e. you know that they have all distinct labels) in some order, but you know nothing about which of those cards have which labels. (Call this group of cards Group )
Suppose that the game is in such a state We will now show that, regardless of your next move, you cannot guarantee victory or an escape from state
Clearly, the cards that are not in Group must also have all of the labels (You might know something about which cards have which labels, or you might not.) Call this other collection of cards Group
If, on the next move, you pick all of the cards from Group or all of the cards from Group then you clearly will not get a matching pair. The wizard will then arbitrarily permute those cards. Thus, for those chosen cards, you know their labels are all distinct, but you know nothing about which cards have which labels. Thus, you are back in state
Now, suppose you pick cards from Group and cards from Group where is an integer and Then, the cards chosen from Group will form a set of labels where and However, you know nothing about which cards in Group have which labels. Thus, there is no way for you to prevent the cards from Group to form the exact set of labels In such a case, there will be no matching cards, so you will not win. Furthermore, the wizard will then arbitrarily permute these cards, so you will know that they have all distinct labels, but you will know nothing about which cards have which labels. Therefore, you are again in state
We have covered all cases, so it follows that, once you enter state you cannot guarantee escape from state or victory.
Now, look at the very first move you make. Obviously, you cannot guarantee victory on the first move, as you know nothing about which cards have which labels. Assuming that you do not win on the first move, the cards you chose have all distinct labels. The wizard then permutes the cards you chose, so you now know that those cards have all distinct labels but know nothing about which cards have which labels. Therefore, if you do not win on your first move, then the game enters state and we have already proven that you cannot guarantee victory from this point.
We therefore conclude that the game is not winnable if We proved earlier that the game is winnable if so the game is winnable if and only if
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