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Eve was visiting Alice and Carol's house and looking through the stuff on their side table, as she does. Eventually, Alice came back from the kitchen and Eve waved a piece of paper she had found in her face.

"What's this?" she asked.

Alice took a look and replied, "Bob and Dave came by the other week and we played a game. Carol was just keeping...track of the plays."

Eve looked at the paper again. "There's no scores, except at the end."

Alice rolled her eyes. "We kept score the usual way, Carol just likes writing down everyone's moves, if the board gets shifted or something. It keeps her mind busy."

"You know," said Eve, "You didn't invite me to this."

"You cheat."

"Yeah, but I still like to be invited. So who won?"

"In fact, why don't you tell me?" asked Alice. "You should be able to figure it out from Carol's writing. If you do, I promise you'll get an invite next time we play."

"Nice," responded Eve, scanning the paper again and doing some research on her cell phone when she stopped. "Wait, some of these don't make sense."

"Yeah, Carol's notation might get you a little off track," commented Alice, "but I'm sure you can figure it out. Oh, one thing--one bit of her notation isn't what it should be."

"Why?"

"Because Carol's from Minnesota and dislikes inaccuracies. Have fun."

The record of play:

C HLNDEN
A PDXSFO
B DENMCI
A DENSLC
B MCIOKC
A SEAPDX
C DENPHX
B BNAPIT
C LAXPHX
A SFOLAX
D MSYATL
B MCISTL
C HLNYYC
B STLBNA
D BNAATL
A JFKPIT
D STLLIT
D ORDPIT
B PITYYZ
A ORDPIT
D LITBNA
B YYZYAM
A STLMCI
D JFKPIT
C DENOMA
B YYZYUL
A ELPOKC
B PITRDU
B RDUATL
A OKCMCI
C STLPIT
D STLORD
D JFKYUL
C STLORD
B DENSAF
A OMAMCI
D YAMYUL
C JFKIAD
B SAFELP
D YAMYWG
C PITIAD
C DENSLC
D HELYWG
B MCIOMA
A LAXELP
B OMAMSP
A OMAMSP
A MSPORD
D MSYIAH
A DFWOKC
C OMAORD
B DFWIAH
C JFKBOS
B OKCDFW
A DFWIAH
D YYZMSP
C YULBOS
D DFWLIT
--
A DFWJFK 11 SEALAX 9 LAXORD 16 MCIIAH 5
B DENPIT 11 YAMOKC 9 DENELP 4 YULATL 9 MSPELP 10 SFOATL -17 MSPIAH 8
C YYCPHX 13 HLNLAX 8 LAXJFK 21 YYCSLC 7
D IAHMSY 7 JFKATL 6 YWGIAH 12

What game were Alice, Bob, Carol, and Dave playing, who won, and by how much?

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These board-gamers are playing:

TICKET TO RIDE - the original US map version. In this game, players take it in turns to try and build train routes between American cities. Here, the American cities are clued using two concatenated 3-character IATA airport codes - e.g. Turn 1's "C HLNDEN" represents player C building a route between Helena, Montana (HLN) and Denver, Colorado (DEN).

Note that the scored turns on the scorecard do not follow the typical A-B-C-D order, since on any given turn players can choose to pick up cards rather than lay down routes (which they can only do if they hold sufficient cards of the required colour); on these turns they score no points, so these are not noted down here.

The board at the end of the game looks like this:

Board at game end

Here, player A is red, B is green, C is yellow, and D is blue. I have marked unused routes in grey to remove potentially confusing base colours from consideration.

Who wins the game?

The scoring for Ticket to Ride is fairly complex. For starters, players earn points for each individual route they build, depending on its length: 1 point for a 1-train route, 2 trains = 2 points, 3 trains = 4 points, 4 trains = 7 points, 5 trains = 10 points, and 6 trains = 15 points. Adding these up yields the following scores (although we're not done yet):

Player A (red) = 64
Player B (green) = 42
Player C (yellow) = 66
Player D (blue) = 77

Secondly, players earn further points for completing specific composite routes between distant pairs of cities as specified on dealt-out 'route cards'. These are represented by the four lines at the bottom of the scoresheet, with positive numbers being points gained for completed routes, and negative numbers being points lost for routes the player failed to complete:

A DFWJFK 11 SEALAX 9 LAXORD 16 MCIIAH 5 = another 41 points for Player A (red).
B DENPIT 11 YAMOKC 9 DENELP 4 YULATL 9 MSPELP 10 SFOATL -17 MSPIAH 8 = another 34 points for Player B (green)
C YYCPHX 13 HLNLAX 8 LAXJFK 21 YYCSLC 7 = another 49 points for Player C (yellow)
D IAHMSY 7 JFKATL 6 YWGIAH 12 = another 25 points for Player D (blue)

This brings the score totals to A=105, B=69, C=115, and D=102. However, we are still not done just yet...!

There is one more thing to bear in mind - the player who has constructed the longest continuous route of trains on the board is awarded a 10-point bonus. The longest route here belongs to Player D (blue), extending from Houston in the south to Helena in the north (37 trains in total). This gives D the 10-point bonus, setting the final scores as:
A=105, B=69, C=115, D=112.

The longest route bonus points almost did it, but Player C still wins by just 3 points!

A final few Easter Eggs:

- The title is a reference to the Beatles song 'Ticket to Ride' whose lyrics include the line "She's got a ticket to ride, but she don't care".

- The use of "Carol's notation might get you a little off track" is a pointer towards train tracks and a hint towards the game.

- Eve can join in next time since Ticket to Ride is a game for up to 5 players - she can use the black trains, unused in this particular game...

- As for Minnesotan Carol's idiosyncrasy, she has (pedantically, perhaps?) chosen to use the IATA code for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport (MSP) rather than that for Duluth (DLH), since the Minnesotan city marked as 'Duluth' on the game board is much more in the position of modern-day Saint Paul!

Minnesota map
Source: Brittanica, modified

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  • $\begingroup$ Okay, those four edits (including a crucial move I somehow completely missed) means everything should be correct. I hope. However--I must point out you're incorrect about Carol's idiosyncrasy--see here: bit.ly/355TG2q Carol is concerned with Midwestern accuracy... $\endgroup$ – Exal Jan 3 at 11:17
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    $\begingroup$ (extra thanks for the map, by the way, made checking for my errors easy! That's what I should have done in the first place...) $\endgroup$ – Exal Jan 3 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Exal Ok, I've amended my answer accordingly - does my maths match yours? It is entirely possible that I have made a calculation error when recalculating the scores... there's a lot of numbers flying around now! Have also corrected the idiosyncrasy, I believe... :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jan 3 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ Looks right to me in all the important ways. Hope you enjoyed yourself despite everything! $\endgroup$ – Exal Jan 3 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ Brill, thanks @Exal - yes I enjoyed it greatly; always love this kind of backwards-gaming puzzle (one of my first ever was something similar with Scrabble...)! I've deleted my no-longer-relevant comments on the main puzzle - thanks for tuning it up and for devising it in the first place. Hopefully it will help some visitors to discover this game for the first time :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jan 3 at 20:43

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