is a board game with an interesting history (or
rather a legend?). Some game books report that
it was invented in 1971 by Mordecai Meirowitz,
an Israeli postmaster and telecommunications expert.
After many rejections by leading toy companies,
the rights were obtained by a small British firm,
Invicta Plastics Ltd. The firm originally manufactured
the game itself, though it has since licensed its
manufacture to Hasbro in most of the world. However,
Mastermind is just a clever readaptation of an
old similar game called 'Bulls
and cows' in English, and 'Numerello' in Italian...
Actually, the old British game 'Bulls and cows'
was somewhat different from the commercial version.
It was played on paper, not on a board... Over
50 million copies later, Mastermind is still marketed
idea of the game is for one player (the code-breaker)
to guess the secret code chosen by the other player
(the code-maker). The code is a sequence of 4 colored
pegs chosen from six colors available. The code-breaker
makes a serie of pattern guesses - after each guess
the code-maker gives feedback in the form of 2 numbers,
the number of pegs that are of the right color and
in the correct position, and the number of pegs that
are of the correct color but not in the correct position
- these numbers are usually represented by small
black and white pegs.
1977, the mathematician Donald Knuth demonstrated
that the code-breaker can solve the pattern in five
moves or less, using an algorithm that progressively
reduced the number of possible patterns.