Problematics | When robots bowl spin - Hindustan Times

Problematics | When robots bowl spin

Nov 27, 2023 03:39 PM IST

In a future world, where AI controls everything including cricket, some Einsteinian puzzling about which iconic robot specialises in what kind of spin

We haven’t had an Einstein puzzle for weeks now. Regular readers know what that is: A puzzle in which you have many characters doing or owning many things and you determine who does what and owns what. The Einstein puzzle that follows appears slightly tricky, but a little thinking should make it clear that the solution is unique.

Welcome to Problematics!(Shutterstock)
Welcome to Problematics!(Shutterstock)

Happy Monday puzzling to all of you.

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The Maschinenmensch from Metropolis (1927); C-3PO from Star Wars (1977), T-800 from The Terminator (1984) and Robocop (1987) (Courtesy: The Author)
The Maschinenmensch from Metropolis (1927); C-3PO from Star Wars (1977), T-800 from The Terminator (1984) and Robocop (1987) (Courtesy: The Author)

#Puzzle 66.1


In a futuristic world where Artificial Intelligence has taken over the world, there are robots designed for particular varieties of bowling in cricket. Here, we have four robots trained to master four varieties of spin. Two of them bowl with their right arms, one off-spin and the other leg-spin. The other two are primarily left-handed, one bowling left-arm orthodox and the other being a Chinaman.

For easy identification, let us name the robots after their well-known, iconic counterparts from the movies: the Maschinenmensch (from Metropolis, 1927); C-3PO (from Star Wars, 1977, and the sequels/prequels), T-800 (The Terminator, 1984-91, original timeline); and Robocop (from Robocop, 1987). Star Wars, of course, has two iconic robots but unfortunately, R2-D2 has no arms that I can notice, so only C-3PO can enter our puzzle.

Since it’s an Einstein puzzle, you begin without knowing which one of them bowls what kind. The fact is, however, that they are also capable of switching roles and bowling one another’s varieties. It is just that each one is designed for a particular type of bowling, but any one of them can bowl whatever they want if the need arises.

One day their developers, themselves the products of AI, wonder if any of the robots can bowl a different variety better than the specialist in that variety. Can the off-spinner, for example, bowl leg-spin better than the leg-spinner?

To test them, they hold a contest. Each robot bowls six deliveries at a set of stumps and the developers see which one hits the stumps how many times. They hold four rounds. Each robot bowls a certain variety so that all four varieties are represented in each round. Each robot ends up bowling all four varieties by the end of four rounds. In fact, in the fourth round, each robot bowls the variety it specialises in.

The first race is won by the Maschinenmensch, just ahead of C-3PO, who is trying leg-spin.

The Maschinenmensch wins the second round too, this time bowling off-spin.

In the third round, C-3PO plays the role of Chinaman, but the winner is T-800 bowling left-arm orthodox.

The results of the last round, in which everyone tries their own variety, is a classified secret.

Robocop is the leg-spinner.

Who bowls what in which round?


#Puzzle 66.2


This is a classic, so I will try to alter the variables in a way that will make it difficult to search for the answer on the Internet. One robot is programmed to tell the truth and another to tell a lie to any question you ask them. One is called A and the other is B.

With one question to either of them, can you determine who is A and who is B?




Puzzle #65.1


Hi Kabir,

The trick is to make a pair of numbers that total 9999. Each time the other person writes a number, the number that you write down must give a total of 9999. You can start from the left to make it look even more impressive to the audience.

After doing this twice, we would have 4 numbers totalling 9999 + 9999 = 19998, or 20,000 – 2. This means that with the fifth number written, you need to add digit 2 to its left-most digit (so that you are adding 20000 to the number) and then subtract 2 from the last digit (or the last pair of digits if the last digit of the fifth number is 0 or 1).

And voila, you have the magical total in seconds.

— Akshay Bakhai, Mumbai


#Puzzle 65.2


Hi Kabir,

In this word, U and H are already at the right places and R has to be in second or fourth place. Since the letters shown in grey are not part of the word, the secret word seems to be TRUTH.

— Vineet Kumar Dargan, Delhi


Solved both puzzles: Akshay Bakhai (Mumbai), Vineet Kumar Dargan (Delhi), Dr Sunita Gupta (Delhi), Sundarraj C (Bangalore), Amardeep Singh (Meerut), Rohit Khanna (Noida), Anil Khanna (Ghaziabad), Shruti M Sethi (Ludhiana), Bhuvi Jain (Delhi), Yadvendra Smora (Sonipat), Professor Anshul Kumar (Delhi), YK Munjal (Delhi), Dr Vivek Jain (Baroda), Ajay Ashok (Mumbai), Group Captain RK Shrivastava (retired; Delhi),

Solved #Puzzle 65.1: Shishir Gupta (Indore), Pranjal Malpani (Navi Mumbai), Shri Ram Aggarwal (Delhi), HP Choudhury

Problematics will be back next week. Please send in your replies by Friday noon to

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    Puzzles Editor Kabir Firaque is the author of the weekly column Problematics. A journalist for three decades, he also writes about science and mathematics.

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