The Wild Wild West

The Puzzler

RAY: Here's the answer. The condemned man says, just go ahead and shoot. It turns out he saw something that told him his odds would be better if the cylinder did not spin again.

TOM: What did he see?

RAY: Well with two bullets in the cylinder and four empty chambers any spin of the cylinder would mean a four out of six or two out of three chance of his walking away. But what our condemned man saw was that the marshal had loaded the bullets into two adjacent chambers in the cylinder. So that the four empty chambers are all in a row.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Let's label the chambers one through six, right? You got six things. And let's say the bullets are in chambers one and two, when the marshal took the first shot that first spin must have landed on chambers, three, four, five or six right. If it landed on one or two he'd be what? He'd be gasping.

TOM: Dead.

RAY: He'd be dead. Now of those four chambers, three are followed by other empty chambers. Only one chamber, number six, is followed by a loaded chamber, which would be number one. So if the cylinder is not re-spun, the odds are three out of four that the next chamber will be empty. And his odds of walking away alive improve from two out of three, to three out of four. So do we have a winner?

TOM: Yes we do. Our winner this week is Will Stark from Santa Rosa, California. And for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got Will's going to get a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at

RAY: Congratulations Will!

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