Problem #249


A solitaire game is played as follows. Six distinct pairs of matched tiles are placed in a bag. The player randomly draws tiles one at a time from the bag and retains them, except that matching tiles are put aside as soon as they appear in the player's hand. The game ends if the player ever holds three tiles, no two of which match; otherwise the drawing continues until the bag is empty. The probability that the bag will be emptied is $p/q,\,$ where $p\,$ and $q\,$ are relatively prime positive integers. Find $p+q.\,$

This problem is copyrighted by the American Mathematics Competitions.

Note: you aren't logged in. If you log in, we'll keep a record of which problems you've solved.

Instructions for entering answers:

  • Reduce fractions to lowest terms and enter in the form 7/9.
  • Numbers involving pi should be written as 7pi or 7pi/3 as appropriate.
  • Square roots should be written as sqrt(3), 5sqrt(5), sqrt(3)/2, or 7sqrt(2)/3 as appropriate.
  • Exponents should be entered in the form 10^10.
  • If the problem is multiple choice, enter the appropriate (capital) letter.
  • Enter points with parentheses, like so: (4,5)
  • Complex numbers should be entered in rectangular form unless otherwise specified, like so: 3+4i. If there is no real component, enter only the imaginary component (i.e. 2i, NOT 0+2i).

For questions or comments, please email

Registration open for AMC10/12 prep class

Registration is now open. See details here.