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Mastermind - Dastardly Review #069

Updated: Jul 2, 2018

Mastermind was invented in 1970 by Mordecai Meirowitz. Mordecai was an Israeli postmaster. Mastermind is based on an old paper and pencil game called Bulls and Cows. One of the first computer versions of Mastermind was created at Cambridge University and was called MOO.

This is a two player game. One player is the Codebreaker and the other is the Codemaker. The Codemaker starts the game by putting in a hidden location at the end of the Mastermind board 4 pegs. The pegs can be any combination of 6 colors. The Codebreaker is trying to guess these four pegs and their correct order.

The top of the Mastermind board is a series of rows of holes. The Codebreaker starts by putting 4 pegs in a row. The Codemaker then puts a colored peg in that row for each peg the Codebreaker placed that is both the correct color and correct position. The Codemaker places a white peg for each peg that is the correct color but incorrect position. This method of play continues until the Codebreaker puts 4 pegs of the correct color in the correct position.

There are many approaches to the best way to solve Mastermind. For 4 pegs and 6 colors a perfect game is 5 or fewer guesses.

The complexity of Mastermind can be changed by increasing the number of pegs from 4 or number of colors from 6.

The Good: Great game to teach logic.

The Bad: Makes me want to break out the computer to write a version.

The Dastardly: With four pegs and six colors there are 6*6*6*6 combinations or 1,296.


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