In the book Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft
Empire, by James Wallace and Jim Erickson, on page 124 (Chapter 3, The
Microkids) there are the following paragraphs:
... the microcomputer group, including Gates, passed the time on the
airport terminal floor by playing a dice game called Petal Around the
Rose. Gates had not played the game before, but he was eager to try
his competitive hand. The game had been developed by students at the
University of Southern California. Five dice are thrown, and the
player is told three things: the name of the game is Petal Around the
Rose, the answer is always even, and there is a correct answer for
each throw of the dice. The player is told nothing else. If someone
gets the right answer five times in arow, its considered prima facie
evidence they understand the game and they are sworn to secrecy.
Its a difficult game. Some catch on after only a few throws of the
dice, others need weeks, and a few never get it. Frustrated players
falling into the last category have resorted to running computer
simulations. Gates was one who never figured the game out. He did get
the right answer five times in a row, but not because he understood
what he was doing. He actually didnt have a clue. But with his
photographic memory, Gates was able to remember each correct answer
from a previous roll by another player. With five dice, it was quite a
feat of memorization.
Nelson Winkless realized that Gates was faking it when he picked up a
piece of paper Gates inadvertently dropped in the aisle of the plane
near his seat. On it Gates had written, peddle around the roses.
Knowing the proper spelling of the name of the game was essential to
solving the puzzle. His poor spelling guaranteed he would never figure
How does this dice game work and what is the solution?