Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

April 2018

According to a recent cryptogram quote I solved, Oscar Wilde said, “America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.” An early example of fake news, no doubt.


Perhaps the puzzle administrator really only wanted to serve up an easy puzzle. Any puzzle with “that” in it is usually pretty easy. A really tough one last week was “Axyxg, axyxg, axyxg coyx dr.”


I suppose I overthink a lot of trivial stuff because I didn’t have a team in the NCAAs.


I’ll give you an example. I was trying to remember the fractions used in an old fable. It hinges on the difficulty of dividing 17. The puzzle is set with the tale of three sons trying to split their late father’s herd of camels. He stated in his will that the eldest son was entitled to get half, the middle son a third, and the youngest a ninth. But each son was frustrated trying to claim his share.

They took their problem to a tribal chief or wise man (not all chiefs are wise, probably). The man took one of his own camels to the pen holding the 17 and tied it to a rail. “Go ahead, take your due.” The eldest son took nine, middle son took six, and the youngest took two. The wise man untied his camel and went home.


Numbers are fun, no? In grade school, the nuns sharpened the boys’ skills doing what they called touchdowns. You start with a three-digit number and multiply it by two, and that answer by three, and so on until you end up with a pretty large number, which is then divided by two, then that answer by three, and so on until you’ve proved your accuracy (and scored an extra point) by dividing the last number by 12 to get back to the original three-digit number.


I wondered what the difference would be between doubling one every day for a month. One billion and change after 31 days. So compared to a Fibonacci sequence of the same length, what are we talking? Wow! Just a scratch over a million, assuming 346,269 is a scratch. Special connection between the two sequences: On the first, second, third, and sixth day there is an even relationship — namely one, two, two, and four.


Question: When is the next time there is an even relationship between the two sequences?


As Winston Churchill is often quoted: Never, never, never give up. (“Axyxg, axyxg, axyxg coyx dr.”)


Happy April Fools.