Month: May 2013

Snakes and ladders: end-game rules

My 5-year-old son is mysteriously keen on a Snakes And Ladders game we have, but there is often some discussion about what the ending rule should be. The winner is definitely the person who lands on square 100 first, but what to do if you roll a number which would take you past square 100? There are two rules we play: You win. You bounce back off the end of the board. E.g., from square 98, a roll of 6 would take you: 99, 100, 99, 98, 97, 96. Photo © Nick Fedele. CC-BY-SA-2.0 Empirically, the game takes way longer if you play the ‘bounce’ rule than if you play the ‘win’ rule. But how much longer, on average? It turns out that

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