Lucrezia Borgia invited a prospective victim to lunch. They ate a hearty meal of roast venison, with a selection of fresh vegetables, all washed down with the finest wine imported from Bordeaux, France.
After the meal, they ate figs and freshly picked grapes.
“Just one apple left”, said Lucrezia, “I insist you have it.
“No”, said the guest, “I couldn’t”.
“Tell you what”, said Lucrezia, “we’ll share it”, and promptly sliced the apple in two with her sharpest knife. The guest and Lucrezia started to eat their respective halves when the guest’s eyes rolled towards the ceiling and he fell over, dead.
“Another victim successfully dispatched,” thought Lucrezia.
As a result of temporary magical powers, you have made it to the Wimbledon finals and are playing Roger Federer for all the marbles. However, your powers cannot last the whole match. What score do you want it to be when they disappear, to maximize your chances of hanging on for a win?
It sounds obvious that you should ask to be ahead two sets to love (it takes 3 out of 5 sets to win
the men’s), and in the third set, ahead 5-0 in games and 40-love in the sixth game. (Probably you
want to be serving, but if your serve is like mine, you might prefer Roger to be serving the sixth
game down 0-40 so that you can pray for a double fault.)
Not so fast! These solutions give you essentially 3 chances to get lucky and win, but you can
get six chances—with three services by you and three by Roger. You still want to be up two sets
to none, but let the game score be 6-6 in the third set and 6-0—in your favor, of course—in the