"T" Card Sum

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Problem Description

Variation of Puzzle #383 from H. E. Dudeney - Amusements in Mathematics, Dover Publications

Select the Ace through 9 of any suit from a deck of cards and arrange them in a 5X5 T shape like this: 

Notice that the sum of the digits in the crossbar (1+2+3+4+5=15) is not the same as the sum of the cards in the upright (3+6+7+8+9=33). But by rearranging the cards, the sums can be made equal.  In fact this may be accomplished in 18 distinct ways.  How many unique solutions can you find? 

"Unique" in this version means that the same 5 numbers may not be repeated in any order in the crossbar nor in the upright.  Also merely exchanging a solution's upright and crossbar will not produce a new solution.   Dudeney's original version counted each permutation of the digits as unique resulting in more than  10,000 solutions!  So finding only 18 should not be too hard. 

A little analysis will convince you that the card at the intersection of the crossbar and upright must be odd.  The sum of the crossbar and upright cards are equal so the sum of all 10 cards, (including the intersecting card twice), must be divisible by 2, i.e. even.  Since the sum of the 9 cards is odd, the extra intersecting card value must also be odd to make the total come even.     

Background & Techniques

Non-programmers are welcome to read on, but may want to skip to the bottom of this page to download an executable version of the program.

For programmers. there is nothing too complex here.  Using the tried and true "divide and conquer" problem solving technique, the main sub-problems are :

bulletDefine a data structure and procedures to keep track of and check solutions.  
bulletCreating, placing dragging the cards.
bulletFinding all solutions programmatically so we can display them on request.
bulletThe usual user interface design decisions.

Data Structure

I chose a stringlist to hold solutions.  The strings are 5 characters in length arranged with the intersecting card  value first followed by the other 4 values in the crossbar or upright arranged in ascending order.   This guarantees that each 5 digit string represents a unique solution.   Since this may represent either the sum of upright or crossbar values, we need to check both possible keys when we check a particular arrangement.  Checking for solutions actually occurs  in three places in the program.  Function UpdateSums  does a preliminary check as it updates the labels which display the current crossbar and upright sums and returns true if the sums are equal.  Function IsNewSolution returns true if the  sums are equal, that the center card is odd and  the solution is not already in the the SolutionList Stringlist.   And procedure ComputeSolutions is called from FormCreate to compute all 18 solutions initially and place them in the AllSolutions Stringlist. 

Card Handling

The 9 cards are held in an array of TCard objects created by the U-CardComponent unit.    A CardSlots array  contains 9 TSlot records defining the upper left corner of the cards in the T and the addresses of the cards currently occupying each slot (or nil if the slot is unoccupied).   The cards are created dynamically and have pointers to the mouse handling routines (OnMouseDownOnMouseMove, and OnMouseUp).   As usual in dragging operations, OnMouseDown sets a flag indicating that the card is being dragged.  We also determine if the card is in slot and save this FromSlot number so we can swap cards when the OnMouseUp occurs (if  it is dropped on an occupied slot in the T).    The original version did not swap, but required that a card be off of the T to empty a slot before a card could be dropped there.  It turns out that (except for the intersecting card position)  the order of cards within the T is not significant and swapping cards is a perfectly adequate way to generate new trial solutions.    Removing the extra code required to support dropping cards off of the T, moving them back, checking that the T is full,  etc.,   is left as an exercise for the viewer.   

The OnMouseMove exit mainly updates the left and top coordinates of the card being dragged.   I move the cursor to the center of the card being dragged at mouse down time so OnMouseMove has to back up half the card width and half the card height to set the top left card corner coordinates based on the current mouse position.   OnMouseUp has quite a bit of work to do checking whether the dropped position is on a card slot, represents a solution, and further,  a new solution. 

Finding All Solutions

At startup time, procedure ComputeSolutions is called to initialize a list, AllSolutions,  of all solutions.  The list is used to assign a solution number (simply its position in the AllSolutions list) when the user find a solution and to find the solution to display when the user clicks the "Show Solution #" button.  Our old friend, the TComboSet class defined in the Combos unit,  is used to generate all combinations of 4 cards selected from 9.   Each combination is assumed to be 4 cards of an upright or crossbar excluding the intersecting card.  We must combine each of these sets  with each possible intersecting card not already in the 4 selected to see if they form a solution.   ComputeSolutions was written before the IsNewSolution function.  It could probably be shortened by calling a slightly modified  version of IsNewSolution, but I didn't bother.  Maybe another exercise for the viewer. 

Interface Design

I try to make programs fit into a 640x480 screen size out of consideration for viewers with older equipment. .  This is one of the few programs where  I could not.   I am also not really satisfied with the method for indicating to the user which of the 18 solutions he has found so far.  I wanted 18 little boxes that somehow would show the configuration of each solution as it was found.   I never quite made it there -  the compromise uses a stringgrid to show counts of total solutions and solutions found for each of the 5 possible intersection cards.   I guess its OK - if you don't like it, write something better yourself!  

There is a toot.wav file included with the program which plays a short train whistle effect when new solutions are found - just for fun!

Note for future reference:  I used the AdjustGridSize procedure  make the scoring stringgrid just big enough to contain the cells.  I discovered this time that the resizing leaves extra room for scroll bars unless  the  Scrollbars property is set to ssNone.   

Running/Exploring the Program 

bulletBrowse source extract
bulletDownload source
bulletDownload  executable

Suggestions for Further Explorations

Dudeney has many other card arrangement problems in the referenced text.  
It seems like there should be a neat analytical way to prove that there at most, at least, or exactly,  18 solutions, but I couldn't find it.   Can you?
Several possible enhancements were described in the write-up above -  if you want to try your hand.  


Original Date: December 16, 2002 

Modified: July 29, 2017

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