Enigma 6: Old maid
4 December 2011
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From New Scientist #1148, 29th March 1979 [link]
Tom, Dick and Harry have only just learnt to play Old Maid, so they are using a pack with only the aces, kings, queens and jacks. In their latest game they began as usual by removing one card, unseen and dealing out the rest. As you know doubt know, the game is played by each player in turn, having discarded any pairs, taking an unseen card from the player on his left. This process continues until only one card is left and the player who has it is the Old Maid.
Pairs were discarded, leaving nine cards still in. Then the taking process started with Tom taking an ace from Dick but failing to make a pair. Then Dick took a king from Harry and failed to make a pair. Then Harry took a queen from Tom and made a pair. Then Tom took a jack from Dick and made a pair.
What was the Old Maid card and who held it?