August 2009 Puzzle

Contributor: Ian Tullis |

In these lean times, the US Postal Service plans to restrict which states can send mail to which other states. It will be based on one simple rule about which states a given state can directly send mail to, but that one rule has a variety of consequences, such as:

  • From California, we can only send mail directly to Alabama, California, Iowa, and Oregon. We can only receive mail directly from ourselves, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
  • Texas has it much worse; they're one of two states that cannot send or receive mail at all.
  • Washington and Hawaii are the only pair of states that can send mail directly to each other.
  • Only three states can directly send mail to a state with which they share a land border.

Once you understand the rule...

1. Which state can directly receive mail from itself and nine other states, but can only send mail directly to itself?

2. Minnesota is one of the two states that can directly send mail to both Michigan and Indiana. Which is the other?

3. Ten states form a group in which the states can only send mail directly to states in that group, but mail can circulate indirectly and indefinitely from any state in the group to any other state, with the exception of the two that will stop the chain. One of these is Massachussetts; what is the other?

4. What is the other state that is in the same situation as Texas?

5. Which state can directly receive mail from a bordering state, and directly send mail to another state that can directly receive mail from one of its own bordering states?

6. Mail sent through a four-step chain from Montana all the way to Arkansas must arrive in Arkansas directly from which state?

Hints & Solution


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