Competitions: Gambling heaven No 3947

Set by Valerie Yule

Gambling is a human instinct to take risks to survive. We asked for alternativ

Report by Ms de Meaner

This week I have heard from "a pedant", aka Keith Norman. "Dear Ms de Meaner," he writes. "Senato in David Silverman's entry for comp 3945 should have been senatui, since senatus belongs to the fourth not the second declension. Populo is correct because populus does belong to the second declension. I'm assuming that Mr Silverman was aiming at the dative case. You are sometimes kind enough to correct our little mistakes for us - indeed, you have done so for me - but you missed that one." What a helpful man!

This week the winners get £20 each, except for Bill Greenwell, who also gets the Tesco vouchers for that extra something.

Negative Lottery

Don't gamble on windfalls; count your blessings - that's the message of new Labour's Negative Lottery. Entry is free and compulsory, so if one of the National Insurance numbers flashed on the screen during Tony's Saturday Sermon is yours, you'll receive an undesirable prize worth up to £1m of Gordon's public money. With prizes including a year on public transport or life on a state pension, you'll be praying each week not to be selected. And when, just as with the real Lottery, it isn't you, you'll feel that little bit better about life in Blair's Britain - until next Saturday.

Adrian Fry

Real-fruit machine

The orange. The cherry. The lemon. Three comestibles that, unless they come up in a row on a fruit machine, are no use to anyone. Yet we live in the age in which Vitamin C is treasured as an essential to life and well-being - and in an age that celebrates the reality show. The time is ripe for Las Vegas and its imitators to introduce genuine fruit machines, on which punters can not only exercise their arms, but attempt to win fresh fruit, and, by nudging, to win extravagant and nutritious quantities of Vitamin C. The sound of coins would be replaced by the wallop and thud of the finest offspring of the world's fruit trees, or the gentle, oozing sound of smoothies, randomly concocted.

Bill Greenwell

Inland casino

The Inland Revenue is converted into one vast national casino. Everyone is permitted to gamble and lose up to the value of his annual tax bill. The BBC (British Betting Corporation) organises a variety of games, using the interactive set each house already possesses. Poor gamblers will go on a glorious losing binge and soon exhaust their credit, but successful gamblers might almost survive the "gambling year". Naturally, as everyone ultimately loses, Gordon, the big-boss croupier, will shed his gloomy image and develop a happy smile. The government rake-off will continue steadily to increase and the punters can gamble to their hearts' content and be no worse off than they already are.

Shirley Curran

No 3950 Family matters

Set by Ian Birchall

Keep ahead of the game. Pretend to be a journalist and write the very first article speculating on the date and real reasons why Prime Minister Gordon Brown declares he is standing down, in order to spend more time with his family.

Max 150 words by 5 October
E-mail: comp@newstatesman.co.uk