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As we all know, Houdini is very good at coming out on top against improbable odds! And oh boy are the odds improbable. For his next great performance, he claims he can play simultaneous chess games against the 8 best chess players in the world. Although he is a very smart man in other ways, he is a mediocre chess player at best.

8 chess tables are set in the room, and Houdini gets to play the white pieces in half the games. For this event, he scores 0 points for every loss, 1 point for every draw and 2 points for every win. He makes the ambitious claim:

I will score no less than 8 points

After all the games have been played, Houdini has scored, in fact, exactly 8 points. How did he do it?

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  • $\begingroup$ Is this a trick question? $\endgroup$ – QuyNguyen2013 Feb 9 '15 at 23:15
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    $\begingroup$ obviously there is a "trick" involved, but I wouldn't call it a trick question. there is no crazy nonsense in the answer, no play on words or such shenanigans. $\endgroup$ – user3453281 Feb 9 '15 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify "the white pieces in half the games"? $\endgroup$ – QuyNguyen2013 Feb 9 '15 at 23:34
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    $\begingroup$ I assume you took this puzzle from this popular video: youtube.com/watch?v=evZmpsl3jI0 $\endgroup$ – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Feb 10 '15 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ Aside: Houdini is actually one of the strongest chess engines in the world. $\endgroup$ – imallett Feb 10 '15 at 2:44
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Houdini cleverly paired up each game in which he played black with a game in which he played white. He then simply copied the moves played by his opponent to the corresponding game.

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    $\begingroup$ +1. Just a note that Houdini also has to make sure that he saw the grandmasters' who play white moves first before playing his own white moves. $\endgroup$ – justhalf Feb 10 '15 at 1:58
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    $\begingroup$ It wouldn't work in reality, in real simultaneous chess he must make a move at the first board before he's allowed to move to the next, and his opponents only have to make their move when he shows up at their board. $\endgroup$ – RemcoGerlich Feb 10 '15 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Bret But wouldn't his opponent's moves differ? $\endgroup$ – FreeAsInBeer Feb 10 '15 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ The key is that Houdini's "opponents" are essentially playing against each other. The two opponent's moves are different, but that is because they are playing different colors. $\endgroup$ – singletee Feb 10 '15 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeAsInBeer Let's say he's playing White on board A and Black on board B. By copying all the black moves from board A (his opponent's) as using them as his moves on board B - and vice versa for the white moves - he's basically letting his opponents play each other. It's like chess by mail except that Houdini is transcribing the moves instead of them being written down. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Feb 10 '15 at 16:15
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He could have won 4 games and lost 4 (4x2 + 4x0 = 8), or drew all 8 (8x1 = 8).

Is there more to the question? I feel like I'm missing something..

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    $\begingroup$ this is not solving the puzzle at all! you missed the question. simultaneous chess in incredibly hard. How did Houdini managed to not get crushed in all 8 games? how did he score a single point? how did he score 8? $\endgroup$ – user3453281 Feb 9 '15 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ I think it was still a valid answer, even if it's not the right one - before the edit there was nothing to suggest that he'd be expected to lose. $\endgroup$ – ladyofcats Feb 10 '15 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ :( Should I delete my answer? The question asked how 8 points were scored, and with the original wording I couldn't see why getting this score should be hard. $\endgroup$ – ladyofcats Feb 11 '15 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Vajura I think this stackexchange is about having a friendly community to work on creating and solving puzzles, which to me would include showing how I interpret a puzzle I haven't come across before to help the creator refine their wording. $\endgroup$ – ladyofcats Feb 11 '15 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ @ladyofcats If you have a question about the puzzle or feel it could be clarified, the appropriate place to do so is in the question comments. Answers are only for answering the question. $\endgroup$ – singletee Feb 13 '15 at 17:59

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