**A** recursive programming Le Monde mathematical puzzle:

Given n tokens with 10≤n≤25, Alice and Bob play the following game: the first player draws an integer1≤m≤6 at random. This player can then take 1≤r≤min(2m,n) tokens. The next player is then free to take1≤s≤min(2r,n-r) tokens. The player taking the last tokens is the winner. There is a winning strategy for Alice if she starts with m=3 and if Bob starts with m=2. Deduce the value of n.

Although I first wrote a brute force version of the following code, a moderate amount of thinking leads to conclude that the person given n remaining token and an adversary choice of m tokens such that 2m≥n always win by taking the n remaining tokens:

optim=function(n,m){ outcome=(n<2*m+1) if (n>2*m){ for (i in 1:(2*m)) outcome=max(outcome,1-optim(n-i,i)) } return(outcome) }

eliminating solutions which dividers are not solutions themselves:

sol=lowa=plura[plura<100] for (i in 3:6){ sli=plura[(plura>10^(i-1))&(plura<10^i)] ace=sli-10^(i-1)*(sli%/%10^(i-1)) lowa=sli[apply(outer(ace,lowa,FUN="=="), 1,max)==1] lowa=sort(unique(lowa)) sol=c(sol,lowa)}

which leads to the output

> subs=rep(0,16) > for (n in 10:25) subs[n-9]=optim(n,3) > for (n in 10:25) if (subs[n-9]==1) subs[n-9]=1-optim(n,2) > subs [1] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 > (10:25)[subs==1] [1] 18

Ergo, the number of tokens is 18!