Win vouchers to spend at any Tesco store

Competition No 3888

Set by Josh Ekroy, 27 June

"Recent research suggests that the part of the brain used for playing bridge also influences the immune system, and infections are warded off after playing," claims Morley College's prospectus. You were asked for articles advancing other breakthroughs in scientific thinking.

Report by Ms de Meaner

Super. Bad luck John Griffiths-Colby (origami), D A Prince (Sudoku) and J Seery (doing nothing). £20 to the winners, the best of whom (Bill Greenwell) also gets the Tesco vouchers.

A daily hand of snap can not only prevent overpopulation, but can also, under certain circumstances, bring about world peace and ban weapons of mass destruction, according to a recent report. The International Jurisprudence Commission published these findings today, after a working group returned from the Middle East. "It's very exciting," commented research leader Professor Hrefna Klingstr0m. "Snap, provided it is played competitively, improves the timing in the central nervous system, and stimulates memory function. When sexual feelings are aroused, snap players are twenty times more likely to remember to use contraception. In pilot studies in outlying villages near Damascus, we reduced the birth rate by 9.5 per cent over three years."

More sensationally, when a round of snap was followed by particular party games, participants developed previously dormant benign feelings and handed in several substances, including warfarin and carbon tetrachloride, to nearby pharmacies. "They didn't want to hurt anyone," added Professor Klingstr0m, "especially after playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey." Significantly, Condoleezza Rice has already committed the US to a round of this with Guantanamo captives.

Bill Greenwell

If you want to get healthy, play darts. This is the conclusion of the latest research from Nuneaton University's faculty of pastime sciences. The perambulation between oche and board - it's been calculated that the average player walks 35 miles per tournament - is a gentle exercise regime, coincidentally generating a unique biorhythm benefiting the cardiovascular system, while the throwing action ensupples the musculature of the arm and strengthens the wrist. The mental-health benefits of darts are equally startling: chalking scores sharpens arithmetical skills, firing synapses thought obsolete since the invention of the pocket calculator; a test of hand-eye co-ordination and meditative concentration, darts is both a holistic enhancement of well-being and a game of almost Zen tedium. While it is true that darts players are invariably obese, tobacco-abusing alcoholics, it is equally true that none of these problems is directly attributable to the actual game itself.

Adrian Fry

A game of tiddlywinks may be a more effective therapy for depression than some drugs, according to a group of Flemish doctors. In their research, a group of 20 patients was divided into sets of four and each set given tiddlywinks to play with. A control group of 20 patients was placed in a similar room and given nothing to play with; while a further group of 20 was divided into five equal groups, given tiddlywinks to play with, but blindfolded before the games began. At the end of the experiment, the group given nothing to play with showed increased listlessness; the group who were blindfolded before play showed increased agitation and helplessness; but the group which simply played the game showed some improvement. "The difference between the two tiddlywink-playing groups is exciting," commented Dr Simple. "It suggests it's the sight of tiddlywinks soaring through the air that lifts patients' spirits, although those with the greatest tiddlywink skills showed the greatest improvement."

M E Ault

No 3891 Set by Valerie Yule

More science: this time it's designer babies. We want you to design a human (with feasible characteristics) that might best survive the environmental challenges ahead. Send us your report.

Max 150 words by 28 July. E-mail: