At a party, my wife set 24 place cards on our round table, but everybody sat down randomly, and nobody was in the right place.
My wife commented: "let's turn the table round, until at least two will be in the right place."
Can this always be so, or was it just a fluke?
Not as good as Paul's solution, but I like it.
Label the people around the table 1 to 24. Let d(x) be the label of the person whose card is in front of person labelled x. Then xd(x), for x=1,...,24 produces 24 numbers, none of which is zero. Hence, modulo 24, some two of them, say xd(x) and yd(y), x not equal to y, are the same number, s, mod 24. So, when the table is shifted s places, the people labelled x and y will be in the right place (if s=13 or s=11, shifting 13 or 11 places puts the table in the same position).

Posted by McWorter
on 20050727 15:40:54 