Problem of the Week 1132
Subtract or Halve
Alice and Bob play a game. A positive integer starts the game and the players take turns changing the current value to a smaller one, and then passing the smaller one back to their opponent.
On each move, a player may subtract 1 from the integer, or halve it, rounding down if necessary. The person who first reaches 0 is the winner.
Alice goes first: she makes her choice of move on the starting value.
For example, starting at 15 a legal game (if not particularly well played) could be:
If the game starts with 1132, which player has a winning strategy?
Source: Mark Krusemeyer, Carleton College, who observes that it will likely appear in a forthcoming problem book, a successor to the Wohascum County Problem Book. It also appeared recently in the Buhler-Berlekamp problem column for MSRI's Emissary newletter.
© Copyright 2010 Stan Wagon. Reproduced with permission.