The Bistro Bottle Game

The Puzzler

RAY: This puzzler was sent in by Larry Waldman. I didn't change it very much to obfuscate it, because it was sufficiently obfuscated itself.

Here it is:

Imagine, Tommy, that you and I are sitting opposite one other at a small round tabe, the kind you find at a bistro or a café, or some other place that sells overpriced beverages and desserts. Next to us is a supply, unlimited if need be, of soda pop bottles.

Here's the game we're going to play:

One of us is going to place a bottle on the table, upright. And then the other one's going to place a bottle on the table and that's going to end round one. The game consists of many rounds, perhaps.

The same person who went first is going to put another bottle on the table, then the person who went second is going to put his bottle on the table. So, if you go first, you'll place your bottle on the table, then I'll place my bottle. In round two you place your bottle and I place my bottle, etc. We're going to continue to do this until we black out!

Actually, we're going to continue to do this until somebody puts a bottle on the table that either doesn't fit, or falls off, or causes another bottle to fall off the table. The rule is that you can place your bottle anywhere on the table, but you can't move anyone else's bottle.

The question very simply is: Is there a strategy to win? And do you want to go first or second?

Think you know? Drop Ray a note!

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

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