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June 2009

Winning at Wimbledon

Order of play notice at Wimbledon, 2004

Order of play notice at the Wimbledon championships 2004. Photo taken by Matthew Mayer and released under GFDL

Here in the UK the strawberries are finally in season and that can only mean one thing: Wimbledon! Starting on the 22 June, 128 women and 128 men will battle it out for the women's and men's singles titles over a fortnight. Will this be the year for a British champion? Plus can't tell you that, but we can help you while away those hours of rain-delay with some Wimbledon maths...

In each round of the women's and men's singles events the players are paired off, and the winners of these matches proceed onto the next round. The final round, consisting of a single match, decides the title. How many matches will the champion play? How many matches are played in the whole event?

What if there were 1024 players in each event? What can you say about an event with 2n players?

This puzzle was inspired by a puzzle from Norman Do's regular Puzzle Corner column for the Gazette of the Australian Mathematical Society. Why not try your hand at the problems in the latest Puzzle Corner?

If you are stumped by last issue's puzzle, here is the solution.

For some challenging mathematical puzzles, see the NRICH puzzles from this month or last month.

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