Friday, 28 December 2012

Odd numbers

I know I said I wouldn’t bore you with detailed accounts of the festivities, or not much, and I probably won’t any more, but this is pretty strange.

Every year Mine Host, as a final little present, buys each of the other six of us a five line lottery ticket for whatever the latest pre-Christmas draw is.  (The rules being that anything significant gets shared out, whilst minor wins are kept by the winner.  The details of this have never yet had to be negotiated; I won a tenner a few years ago and kept it.)

So at breakfast on Thursday, the tickets were issued and everyone got a pen and waited for the results.  That’s 180 randomly selected numbers, waiting for six randomly selected numbers to be read out.

So, how many tickets, out of the six, contained any winning numbers?  Two.  How many winning numbers did each of those two tickets contain?  One.  And guess what those numbers were?  In both cases, 39.

What are the odds against that?


  1. Chews pencil....plugs numbers into calculator.. gives up...

  2. Is it like that thing where out of a relatively small random gathering, two will share a birthday? Or (and I've tried this) if you jot down the last two digits of te next 20 cars you pass, two will be the same (car mumbering has changed, so this may no longer work...).

  3. Well? What are they? Lots and lots, probably more than winning so you've now blown your chances of a jackpot on two 39s. Ask yourself, was that sensible?

  4. I don't know those odds but what about these?
    I received several books this Xmas. My son gave me The Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky, who has previously written a book about a font: Fraktur Mon Amour. My stepson gave me On the Map by Simon Garfield, who has previously written Just my Type - a Book about Fonts.

  5. 6 numbers from 49 predicted by 30 numbers on each ticket is still pretty rubbish odds so I don't think the fact that only 2 tickets had a hit is particularly striking. And having settled on two tickets with the same winning number, the chances of it being the same are just 1 in 5 (there are only 5 winning numbers as the set at that stage).
    I'm off to the cloakroom to look for my coat....

  6. Two odd numbers! And both the same! Amazing.

  7. Thank you all. I now have a deeper insight into why I'm not a gambler.

    Macy, yours is the answer closest to my heart.

    Frances - um ... probably not.

    Zig - I like the concept, betting on the likelihood of one getting it wrong, but I doubt Paddy P'll be interested.

    Richard - insufficient data, I'm afraid. How many books about fonts are there, for a start?

    Rog - you are of course absolutely right. Smartears.

    Mig, wanna bet on next year's result? Thought not.