Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Can you solve the giant spider riddle? - Dan Finkel

Difficulty: 0

Once every century, the worlds greatest spiders gather to compete

in a series of grueling games.

The winner will become the next arachnomonarch,

able to command all the worlds spiders to their will.

That day is today, and for the first time,

youre casting your name into the ring.

From Anansi to Arachne to Aragog,

all of the titans of the spider world are here,

and at first, no one even notices itsy-bitsy you.

But after wowing the crowd with your web design

and sticking it to the competition in the long-distance sling,

youve qualified for the finals.

Now all that remains is to face off against the reigning champion,

Queen Shelob,

on the Whirled Wide Web, and win the title from her.

The web stretches over a large chasm,

with intersecting strands coming to a single point on the other side.

Moving across each strand requires a careful dash,

and you must keep going until you stop at the next hub

where two strands cross.

By ancient spider code, only one competitor may traverse the web at a time.

You must take turns, moving from one intersection to an adjacent one.

No one may spin new paths into existence or skip turns.

You begin two spaces from Shelob, and to win,

you must catch her by your tenth move.

Can you attain the mantle of spider supremacy?

Pause here to figure it out for yourself. Answer in 3

Answer in 2

Answer in 1

Its tempting to trap Shelob in a corner, but doing so is surprisingly tricky.

The layout of the web is such that every move you make,

Shelob can get to another intersection two away from you.

So even if you were to drive her into a corner, shed escape it easily.

There are no dead ends,

so theres never a situation where shed be forced to move to your space.

However, there is this point up here where all the strands converge.

It's easy to see that it's important,

but the challenge is figuring out exactly what to do with it.

Theres a clever way of re-visualizing the problem:

try coloring every intersection one of two colors

say red and blue

where the same color never borders itself.

What you get is a checkerboard pattern,

then one space at the point which you cant make either color.

At the beginning of the game, every time you move to red,

Shelob will be on blue,

and every time you move to blue, Shelob will be on red.

In other words, unless something changes,

you can never move onto the same intersection as her.

And thats where the point comes in.

As indicated by its unique color, its the one place you can break the pattern

and change the rhythm of moves.

So you should waste no time in getting up there.

Shelob could now be in any one of these red spaces,

and you have at most 6 moves left to catch her.

But thanks to the colors we've added,

we can now focus on the one thing that matters the most:

changing the color pattern.

Shelob is on red, so you should move onto red on the second or fourth strand.

Now, Shelob can never move to any of the spots neighboring you,

giving you a kind of net to use to catch her.

You may have luck choosing your moves through intuition at this point.

But if you want to get algorithmic about it,

you could track how far away she is horizontally and vertically,

as two numbers.

On your move, shrink the larger of the two,

and no matter which direction she runs, shell have to hit an edge.

Eventually, you'll have backed her into one of the two corners

and catch up to her at the last possible moment.

You snatch the ceremonial sash from your opponent

and wrap it around yourself.

You are now the Spider Supreme,

leader of all the worlds eight-legged wonders.

Just remember with great spider power comes great spider responsibility.

The Description of Can you solve the giant spider riddle? - Dan Finkel