Bruce is an inmate at a large prison, and like most of the other prisoners, he smokes cigarettes. During his time in the prison, Bruce finds that if he has 3 cigarette butts, he can cram them together and turn them into 1 full cigarette. Whenever he smokes a cigarette, it turns into a cigarette butt.
One day, Bruce is in his cell talking to one of his cellmates, Steve.
"I really want to smoke 5 cigarettes today, but all I have are these 10 cigarette butts," Bruce tells Steve. "I'm not sure that will be enough."
"Why don't you borrow some of Tom's cigarette butts?" asks Steve, pointing over to a small pile of cigarette butts on the bed of their third cellmate, Tom, who is out for the day on a community service project.
"I can't," Bruce says. "Tom always counts exactly how many cigarette butts are in his pile, and he'd probably kill me if he noticed that I had taken any."
However, after thinking for a while, Bruce figures out a way that he can smoke 5 cigarettes without angering Tom. What is his plan?
Bruce takes 9 of his 10 cigarette butts and turns them into 3 cigarettes total (remember, 3 cigarette butts can be turned into 1 cigarette). He smokes all three of these, and now he has 4 cigarette butts.
He then turns 3 of the 4 cigarette butts into another cigarette and smokes it. He has now smoked 4 cigarettes and has 2 cigarette butts.
For the final step, he goes and borrows one of Tom's cigarette butts. With this cigarette butt plus the 2 he already has, he is able to make his 5th cigarette to smoke. After smoking it, he is left with 1 cigarette butt, which he puts back in Tom's pile so that Tom won't find anything missing.
You die and the devil says he'll let you go to heaven if you beat him in a game. The devil sits you down at a perfectly round table. He gives himself and you an infinite pile of quarters. He says, "OK, we'll take turns putting one quarter down, no overlapping allowed, and the quarters must rest flat on the table surface. The first guy who can't put a quarter down loses." You guys are about to start playing, and the devil says that he'll go first. However, at this point you immediately interject, and ask if you can go first instead. You make this interjection because you are very smart and can place quarters perfectly, and you know that if you go first, you can guarantee victory. Explain how you can guarantee victory.
You place a quarter right in the center of the table. After that, whenever the devil places a quarter on the table, mimic his placement on the opposite side of the table.. If he has a place to place a quarter, so will you. The devil will run out of places to put a quarter before you do.