Deterministic method and system for determining winners of scratch and win ticket contests and other numeric prize contests
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 contest
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 A—HUMAN NECESSITIES
 A63—SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
 A63F—CARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
 A63F3/00—Board games; Raffle games
 A63F3/06—Lottos or bingo games; Systems, apparatus or devices for checking such games
 A63F3/065—Tickets or accessories for use therewith
 A63F3/0665—Tickets or accessories for use therewith having a message becoming legible after rubbingoff a coating or removing an adhesive layer

 A—HUMAN NECESSITIES
 A63—SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
 A63F—CARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
 A63F9/00—Games not otherwise provided for
 A63F9/18—Questionandanswer games

 G—PHYSICS
 G07—CHECKINGDEVICES
 G07F—COINFREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
 G07F17/00—Coinfreed apparatus for hiring articles; Coinfreed facilities or services
 G07F17/32—Coinfreed apparatus for hiring articles; Coinfreed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting

 G—PHYSICS
 G07—CHECKINGDEVICES
 G07F—COINFREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
 G07F17/00—Coinfreed apparatus for hiring articles; Coinfreed facilities or services
 G07F17/32—Coinfreed apparatus for hiring articles; Coinfreed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
 G07F17/3286—Type of games
 G07F17/329—Regular and instant lottery, e.g. electronic scratch cards

 A—HUMAN NECESSITIES
 A63—SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
 A63F—CARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
 A63F3/00—Board games; Raffle games
 A63F3/04—Geographical or like games ; Educational games
 A63F3/0423—Word games, e.g. scrabble
 A63F2003/0431—Encoding or decoding
Abstract
A deterministic gaming method for a contest is presented. The method includes generating at least one or more mathematical problems to be solved by contestants. An announcement of the contest to potential contestants is provided. Instructions including the at least one or more mathematical problems and rules of play for the contest are provided to participating contestants. After a predetermined period of time, it is determined if one or more participating contestants has correctly solved the problem and is a winner. If there is no winner, the mathematical problems and rules of play for the contest are continued to be provided. The contest is stopped when one or more winners are determined. A prize is then distributed to the one or more winners. Also is presented is a system for the deterministic contest and contest tickets for use therein.
Description
 [0001]The present Utility patent application claims priority benefit of the [U.S. provisional application for patent Ser. No. 60/846724 filed on Sep. 22, 2006 under 35 U.S.C. 119(e).
 [0002]Not applicable.
 [0003]Not applicable.
 [0004]A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office, patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
 [0005]The present invention relates generally to prize contests. More particularly, the invention relates to a deterministic method of operating scratch and win ticket contests and other numeric prize contests.
 [0006]Existing prize contests utilizing scratch and win tickets determine the outcome of their contests predominately via chance. A fixed number of winning tickets are generated and mixed randomly amongst a larger collection of nonwinning tickets. Thus, the winners of the contest are determined by chance.
 [0007]Their do exist scratch and win tickets in which every ticket is a potential winning ticket. However, these tickets do not allow the contestants to exercise any skill in determining what portions of the ticket to reveal to win the prize and hence the results of the contest are still determined by chance.
 [0008]There are trivia based scratch and win tickets that ask contestants to answer multiple choice questions in order to select the winning answer and win the ticket. Contestants can directly impact the outcome of these contests. However, trivia based contests are difficult to manage from an operations standpoint and limit the contest operator's ability to control the number of winners of the contest. Contestants can potentially look up the answers to trivia questions and from a practical and realistic standpoint almost every ticket could be won by contestants. This limits the utility of such contests from a business standpoint.
 [0009]In view of the foregoing, there is a need for a prize contest with an outcome that is not determined only by chance for which the number of winners may be affected by the operators of the contest.
 [0010]The present invention is illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings and in which like reference numerals refer to similar elements and in which:
 [0011]The present invention is best illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings and in which like reference numerals refer to similar elements and in which:
 [0012]
FIG. 1 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary tendigit scratch and win ticket with a nonrandom winning number, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;  [0013]
FIG. 2 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary nonrandom scratchoff ticket with four possible choices, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;  [0014]
FIG. 3 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary nonrandom scratchoff ticket with twodigit sequences from which to choose, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;  [0015]
FIG. 4 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary nonrandom scratchoff ticket with a grid system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;  [0016]
FIGS. 5 , 6, and 7 illustrate exemplary nonrandom, grid type scratchoff tickets with varying digits and grid styles, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.FIG. 5 illustrates a grid with the digits zero through seven across the top of the grid and the digits zero through three down the side of the grid.FIG. 6 illustrates a ticket with the digits two through nine across the top of the grid and the digits zero through three down the side of the grid.FIG. 7 illustrates a ticket with the digits zero, two through five, and seven through nine across the top of the grid and the digits zero through three down the side of the grid;  [0017]
FIG. 8 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary nonrandom scratchoff ticket using a base sixteen scheme, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;  [0018]
FIG. 9 is a diagram illustrating the generation of an exemplary contest with combined lots, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;  [0019]
FIG. 10 is a flow chart illustrating the operation of an exemplary nonrandom, numeric contest, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;  [0020]
FIG. 11 is a flow chart illustrating the operation of an exemplary contest where the mathematical equation is a cryptographic algorithm in which the solution is an encoded string of letters and numbers, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;  [0021]
FIG. 12 is a flow chart illustrating an exemplary process of the participation of a contestant in a nonrandom numeric contest, according to an embodiment of the present invention.  [0022]Unless otherwise indicated, illustrations in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale.
 [0023]To achieve the forgoing and other objects and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, a deterministic method and system for determining winners of scratch and win ticket contests and other numeric prize contests along with contest tickets for use in these contests is presented.
 [0024]In one embodiment, a gaming method for a contest is presented. The method includes the steps of generating at least one or more mathematical problems to be solved by contestants, providing an announcement of the contest to potential contestants, providing instructions including the at least one or more mathematical problems and rules of play for the contest to participating contestants, determining, after a predetermined period of time, if one or more participating contestants has correctly solved the problem and is a winner, continuing to provide the at least one or more mathematical problems and rules of play for the contest in the absence of the winner, stopping the contest when one or more winners are determined, and distributing a prize to the one or more winners. In another embodiment, the predetermined period of time is determined in part by a difficulty of solving the mathematical problem. In another embodiment the method further includes the step of providing a means for solving the at least one or more mathematical problems to the participating contestants. In a further embodiment, the method includes the step of including a random factor in the instructions for modifying the playing of the contest. In yet another embodiment, the method further includes the step of including a random choice for the participating contestants. In another embodiment, the random choice determines a one of the mathematical problems the participating contestant is to solve. In another embodiment, the random choice, in part, determines a value of the prize. In still another embodiment the instructions are in part provided by a contest ticket. In another embodiment, the step of determining includes examining contest tickets entered by participating contestants. In yet another embodiment, the method further includes the step of selecting a duration for the contest. In another embodiment, the duration is included with the instructions. In another embodiment, the duration is in part selected by the complexity of the mathematical problem. In still another embodiment, the at least one or more mathematical problems is a cryptographic algorithm and the generating includes encoding a clear text message.
 [0025]In another embodiment, a gaming system for a contest is presented. The system includes a means for generating one or more mathematical type problems, a means for announcing the contest to potential contestants, a means for providing the one or more mathematical problems and rules of play to participating contestants, a means for determining, after a predetermined period of time, if one or more participating contestants has correctly solved the problem and is a winner, a means for continuing to provide the problem and rules in the absence of the winner, a means for stopping the contest when one or more winners are determined, and a means for distributing a prize to the one or more winners. In another embodiment, the system further includes a means for including a random factor. In yet another embodiment, the system further includes a means for providing a means for solving the one or more mathematical problems to the participating contestants. In another embodiment, the system further includes a means for selecting a duration for the contest. In a further embodiment, the system further includes a means for providing the duration to the participating contestants.
 [0026]In another embodiment, a method for generating a contest is presented. The method includes the steps of creating a plurality of mathematical problems to be solved, obtaining a predetermined number of contest tickets for each of the mathematical problems, the contest tickets being shuffled and divided into a predetermined number of lots, and distributing the lots for purchase by potential contestants.
 [0027]In another embodiment, a system for generating a contest is presented. The system includes a means for creating a plurality of mathematical problems to be solved, a means for generating a predetermined number of contest tickets for each of the mathematical problems, a means for combining, shuffling and dividing the contest tickets into a predetermined number of lots, and a means for distributing the lots for purchase by potential contestants.
 [0028]In yet another embodiment, a process for participating in a contest is presented. The process includes the steps of obtaining a contest entry solving at least one mathematical problem presented on the contest entry, displaying on the contest entry if a solution of the mathematical problem is correct, and submitting the contest entry for verification if the solution is correct. In another embodiment, the process further includes the step of determining if a means for solving the mathematical problem is provided by the contest and using the method in solving the mathematical problem. In another embodiment, the step of determining further includes obtaining the method. In another embodiment, the obtaining of the method is accomplished in part using a computer connection. In another embodiment, the obtaining of the method is accomplished by purchase. In still another embodiment, the process further includes the step of choosing a random factor provided with the contest entry. In another embodiment, the process further includes using a random factor for effecting the play of the contest. In another embodiment, the contest entry is obtained by purchase of a contest ticket.
 [0029]A system for participating in a contest is presented in another embodiment. The system includes a means for obtaining a contest entry, a means for solving at least one mathematical problem presented on the contest entry, a means for displaying on the contest entry if a solution of the mathematical problem is correct, and a means for submitting the contest entry for verification if the solution is correct. In another embodiment, the system further includes a means for obtaining a method for solving the at least one mathematical problem. In still another embodiment, the system further includes a means for providing a random factor.
 [0030]In another embodiment, a contest ticket for a deterministic game play is presented. The ticket includes a first side including indicia providing instructions with at least one mathematical problem to be solved and a second side comprising indicia providing a plurality of solutions to the mathematical problem including at least one correct solution to the mathematical problem and a means for indicating the one correct solution when the one correct solution is selected. In another embodiment, the plurality of solutions is arranged in a gird. In another embodiment, one of or both of the first side and the second side includes a random factor. The random factor is selectable in another embodiment. In yet another embodiment, the ticket further includes a method for solving the at least one mathematical problem.
 [0031]Other features, advantages, and object of the present invention will become more apparent and be more readily understood from the following detailed description, which should be read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
 [0032]The present invention is best understood by reference to the detailed figures and description set forth herein.
 [0033]Embodiments of the invention are discussed below with reference to the Figures. However, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that the detailed description given herein with respect to these figures is for explanatory purposes as the invention extends beyond these limited embodiments. For example, it should be appreciated that those skilled in the art will, in light of the teachings of the present invention, recognized a multiplicity of alternate and suitable approaches, depending upon the needs of the particular application, to implement the functionality of any given detail described herein, beyond the particular implementation choices in the following embodiments described and shown. That is, there are numerous modifications and variations of the invention that are too numerous to be listed but that all lit within the scope of the invention. Also, singular words should be read as plural and vice versa and masculine as feminine and vice versa, where appropriate, and alternatives embodiments do not necessarily imply that the two are mutually exclusive.
 [0034]The present invention will now be described in detail with reference to embodiments thereof as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
 [0035]The preferred embodiment of the present invention is a method for using nonrandom numbers solvable by contest contestants as the winning numbers for scratch and win tickets as well as any other prize contest where the winner of the contest is determined by a numeric value such as, but not limited to, raffles, lotteries, bingo games, math contests, calculator races, sudoku, magic square contests, sweepstakes, scratch and win prize promotions, online numeric contest sites
 [0036]In the preferred embodiment, the winning number for a contest is computed in advance of the contest as a digit or a sequence of digits selected from the computation of a solution to a complex mathematical equation. Contestants are asked to provide these digits to win the contest. Any contestant providing the correct sequence of digits is declared a winner and shares in the contest prize. The computation of these numbers is nontrivial and may require contestants to utilize computers to compute the solution to the problem over a period of time to arrive at the correct winning number. Contest operators may influence the difficulty of the contest by controlling the time needed to compute the answer and the number of computers needed to compute the answer. The equations to be solved in preferred embodiments are wellknown mathematical equations taken from wellknown published mathematical material and widely available to the general public. However, in alternate embodiments, the contestants may be required to derive the equations on their own. In the preferred embodiment, all contestants are provided full details and rules of any contests.
 [0037]The winning outcomes of contests according to embodiments of the present invention are predetermined and there is no chance involved in the calculation of the answers. However, because of the difficulty of computing the solution, it is still challenging to individual contestants. An extremely simple example of a contest according to an embodiment of the present invention is to ask a contestant to provide the third digit of the irrational number PI. A slightly more involved example that would require the use of a computer would be to ask a contestant for the 12^{th }million digit of PI. If a contestant responds with the correct number, they win the contest.
 [0038]A benefit of embodiments of the present invention is that cheating is minimized because even though the question is known in advance, the solution is difficult to compute and takes time to calculate. In addition, full transparency of contest details may be shared amongst all contestants with no impact on the quality of the gameplay in the contest. This results in a difficult but fair contest.
 [0039]Some embodiments of contests involve scratch and win tickets.
FIG. 1 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary tendigit scratch and win ticket with a nonrandom winning number, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In the present embodiment, tickets are issued where each ticket has the digits 0 through 9 on a front side 101 with a scratchoff section 110 beneath each digit. Front side 101 indicates to the contestant that the instructions for the contest are located on a back side 105 of the ticket. Alternate embodiments may not indicate this to the contestant. Back side 105 presents a difficult to compute mathematical problem that requires a computationally long time to compute and instructions for the contest. The example shown inFIG. 1 instructs the contestant to scratch off the digit that is the 12^{th }millionth digit of the square root of 3 to win. To win, a contestant must scratch off the scratchoff section 110 next to the digit on front side 101 that is the answer to the mathematical question printed on back side 105. Those skilled in the art, in light of the present teachings will recognize that scratchoff sections 110 may be placed in various locations of the ticket, for example, without limitation; the scratchoff material may be located directly beneath the digits, or the digits may be printed into the scratchoff material.  [0040]In the present embodiment, the correct digit has the word “Winner” beneath scratchoff section 110 corresponding to the correct digit. All other scratchoff sections 110 have an indication that the answer is wrong such as, but not limited to, the word “void” or “wrong” printed beneath the scratchoff material. Other words or symbols may be used to indicate that the contestant did not win such as, but not limited to, “sorry, try again”, an X, etc. Similarly, other words or symbols may be used to indicate that the contestant has won such as, but not limited to “congratulations”, a checkmark, a star, etc. The present embodiment enables the contestant to determine at any time if they have the correct answer to the question on back side 105 of the ticket. Other benefits of this embodiment are that the skill of the contestant generally determines the outcome of the contest.
 [0041]Tickets expire after a limited period of time to minimize cheating and provide impetus to solve the contest question. The time limit is also a portion of the entertainment value. In the present embodiment an expiration date 115 is printed on front side 101. In alternate embodiments, expiration date 115 may be printed on back side 105. Contest operators may adjust the length of time that a ticket is valid in order to alter the difficulty of play of the contest. For example, without limitation, tickets with a math problem that takes a typical computer one week to solve may be good for three weeks. This is an example of a slowpaced contest. Another nonlimiting example is a ticket with a math problem that can be solved in one day where the ticket expires in two days. This is an example of a relatively fastpaced contest. A third nonlimiting example is a ticket with a math problem that can be solved in two weeks where the ticket expires in two weeks and one day. This is a relatively restricted game in which contestants who did not buy tickets on the first day generally have no chance of winning the contest.
 [0042]
FIG. 2 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary nonrandom scratchoff ticket with four possible choices, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Having fewer digits to choose from generally makes the contest relatively easier than the embodiment shown by way of example inFIG. 1 as the answer must be one of the displayed digits. The present embodiment is easier to solve and may be offered as an easier game to contestants. Various embodiments may provide the contestant with varying amounts of choices in order to increase or decrease the difficulty level of the contest.  [0043]
FIG. 3 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary nonrandom scratchoff ticket with twodigit sequences from which to choose, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The number of digits on the front of the ticket need not be limited to ten digits. In some embodiments the ticket may have sequences of two or three digit numbers or longer sequences. For example, without limitation, in the present embodiment, ten twodigit sequences appear on the front of the ticket with scratchoff sections next to these sequences. One of the twodigit sequences is the answer to the question on the back of the ticket, which is a mathematical question requesting a twodigit numeric solution to a computational series. On some tickets the answer may be a twodigit sequence as in the example question shown in the figure; “scratchoff the 12^{th }millionth digit and next digit of the square root of 3.” However, on alternate tickets the answer may be a twodigit number. For example, without limitation, the answer to “what is the square root of 625” is 25. In the present embodiment, the correct twodigit number or sequence has the word “Winner” written beneath the scratchoff material. All other sections reveal the word “wrong”. Those skilled in the art, in light of the present teachings, will recognize that various other words or symbols may be used under the scratchoff sections to indicate whether or not the chosen answer is correct or incorrect.  [0044]
FIG. 4 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary nonrandom scratchoff ticket with a grid system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In the present embodiment, a grid is presented on the front of the ticket with the digits zero through nine across the top and the digits zero through three down one side of the grid. The problem on the back is once again a twodigit number or sequence. In the present embodiment, the row across the top represents the second digit in the sequence, and the digits down the side represent the first digit in the sequence. In alternate embodiments, the row across the top may represent the first digit in the sequence, and the column down the side may represent the second digit in the sequence. In the present embodiment, scratchoff material is placed throughout the grid with all sections except the correct row column intersection revealing the word ‘wrong’. The scratch section at the intersection of the correct digits reveals the word ‘winner’. As previously described, other words or symbols may be used to indicate whether the chosen answer is right or wrong in alternate embodiments. The digits across the top need not have all ten digits and the digits down the side could be any number of the digits zero through nine, as shown by way of example inFIGS. 5 through 7 .  [0045]
FIGS. 5 , 6, and 7 illustrate exemplary nonrandom, grid type scratchoff tickets with varying digits and grid styles, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.FIG. 5 illustrates a grid with the digits zero through seven across the top of the grid and the digits zero through three down the side of the grid.FIG. 6 illustrates a ticket with the digits two through nine across the top of the grid and the digits zero through three down the side of the grid.FIG. 7 illustrates a ticket with the digits zero, two through five, and seven through nine across the top of the grid and the digits zero through three down the side of the grid. In the embodiment shown by way of example inFIG. 7 , the grid has blank spaces in the areas where the digits that are not included would have been.  [0046]In some alternate embodiments, the digits used need not be in a base ten mathematical scheme. Any suitable base number system may be implemented depending up on the needs of the particular application. By way of further example,
FIG. 8 illustrates a front view and a back view of an exemplary nonrandom scratchoff ticket using a base sixteen scheme, in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present invention. In the present embodiment, digits are represented by the numbers zero through nine and the letters a through f. For example, without limitation, the letters a through f may appear on the front of the card with the question on the back asking for the base 16 answer to the mathematical problem where the answer is a value between ten and fifteen. In the present embodiment, the entire sequence for the mathematical problem is computed in base sixteen. This involves relatively sophisticated mathematics on the part of the contestant.  [0047]In an alternative embodiment the mathematical equations may be computed in base 36. This allows for a sequence of digits consisting of all English letters and numeric digits to be included in the sequence of answers. In the present embodiment, computational answers to the mathematical question would need to be performed in base 36. Base 36 enable sequences of answers such as, but not limited to, ‘laghyx23’. This allows for an extremely large space for potential answers and increases the opportunity for contestants to try alternative computational methods. Using base 36 enables answers to the equations to be readable words rather than just numeric sequences.
 [0048]In some embodiments every ticket in the contest has a unique mathematical question on the back such that every answer on every ticket is different from every other ticket. This embodiment ensures that solving one ticket is not of benefit in solving another ticket. In other embodiments a fixed number of tickets with the same problem to be solved is printed and distributed. For example, without limitation, 1000 tickets with the same problem are printed and distributed to contestants. In this embodiment the contest operators may indicate that the first ten contestants to compute the correct answer will win the prize, and all others will not win. This can be used as an entertainment incentive to increase pressure on the contestants. This also has the negative side effect of increasing the ability of contestants to cheat since the same contestant may solve the problem once and scratch off multiple tickets for multiple prizes. However the present embodiment may be useful for fastpaced contests such as, but not limited to, short run contests or onsite single day contests.
 [0049]In another embodiment a random number of tickets with the same equation to be solved are generated, and winners are limited to a fixed percentage of printed tickets. For example, without limitation, 10% of the number of printed tickets may claim a prize even if all contestants answered the problem correctly. For example, without limitation, the number 200 is chosen at random and 200 tickets are printed with the same problem. In the present example, only the first 20 contestants with the correct answer may claim the prize. This particular embodiment is useful in conjunction with multiple lots of tickets as described by way of example in conjunction with
FIG. 9 . The percentage of winners in this embodiment is set by the contest operators to control the number of winners. In alternate embodiments a fixed number of winners may be set to win a random lot generation.  [0050]
FIG. 9 is a diagram illustrating the generation of an exemplary contest with combined lots, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The present embodiment comprises lots of tickets where each individual lot has the same equation to be solved. The lots are generated using one of the two previous methods, the generation of a specific sized lot or a random lot generation. Using the random lot generation method reduces cheating between lots. This tends to reduce cheating as it is generally more difficult for contest entrants to calculate which lots and how many lots will share the same contest questions since the random lot generation makes it impossible to predict how many and how often a specific math problem will appear in the same bank of tickets. Each lot has a different problem than every other lot in the total collection. In the example shown inFIG. 9 , three math problems are created. For example, without limitation, problem one may ask for the 1000th digit of PI, problem two may ask for the 128th digit of PI, and problem three may ask for the 36th millionth digit of PI. Then, lots of 1000 tickets are generated for each of the math problems. All generated tickets are then shuffled and mixed in a further step to reduce cheating amongst contest contestants. The combined lot is then split into mixed lots. In the present example, the combined lot is separated into three mixed lots. These mixed lots are then given to retailers who sell them to contestants. In the present embodiment, the operators of the contest determine how many winners are allowed in the contest. There are various ways to set this amount, for example, without limitation, only the first correct answer may win, a percentage of the combined lot may win, all correct answers submitted within a specified time may win, every other correct answers may win, the tenth correct answer may win, only a single winner from each retail outlet may win, etc.  [0051]
FIG. 10 is a flow chart illustrating the operation of an exemplary nonrandom numeric contest, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In the present embodiment, the process begins at step 1001 where a math problem is generated. In step 1005, the contest is announced. The contest can be announced in television, radio, or print ads or with signs posted at the retailers who are selling the tickets. Also, it is contemplated that the contest may be announced via Internet ads, emails to contestants, SMS messages, flyers mailed to houses, billboards, and other mechanism regularly used to reach potential consumers. Contestants enter the contest in step 1010 by purchasing tickets. In alternate embodiments, contestants may enter the contest in various other methods such as, but not limited to, mailing in an entry form or entering over the Internet. In these embodiments, if scratchoff tickets are used, the contest operators mail the tickets to the contestants who are entered or the contestants may pick up the tickets at an operation location. Contestants may also enter the contests by sending numeric answers using SMS messages via cell phone, also IRQ chat, instant messages online, email entry, regular phone call, or telegram. Then in step 1015 of the present embodiment, the operators of the contest decide if it is time to check for winners. If it is not time to check for winners, the process returns to step 1010 so that more contestants may enter. If it is time to check for winners, the operators of the contest check for winners in step 1020. If there are no winners, the operators of the contest announce that there were no winners in step 1025, and the process returns to step 1010 so that more contestants may enter. If there are winners at step 1020, the operators of the contest announce the winners in step 1030. In step 1035, the winners are paid. In step 1040 a new contest is started and the process returns to step 1001 so that a new math problem can be generated.  [0052]In a nonlimiting example illustrating the process shown by way of example in
FIG. 10 , the answer is a sequence of digits from an extremely difficult to solve mathematical problem that may take multiple months to solve. Any number of contestants may enter the contest and attempt to solve the same mathematical problem. The prize money is awarded to the first contestant to arrive at the correct sequence of digits. The contest remains open to new contestants until a contestant wins the contest. In the event of multiple contestants providing the correct answer on the same day, the prize is split equally amongst them. In the present embodiment, a portion of contest entrance fees are added to the prize pool with every entry. In alternate embodiments, the prize pool may be provided entirely by the contest operators.  [0053]The number of digits in the answer sequence is adjustable by contest operators to adjust the difficulty of computing the answer to the question. For example, without limitation, a sequence of two digits is easier to compute than a sequence often digits. The amount of time needed to compute the solution can also be adjusted by the contest operators in order to adjust the difficulty of the contest and to alter both the prize amount paid and the game play pressure on the contest entrants. For example, without limitation, a contest in which the answer can be computed in one month would encourage a faster gameplay from contest entrants while one that took six months to compute would reduce urgency and encourage more contestants to play. Longer contests may also entail larger prize sums.
 [0054]In an alternate embodiment, winning contestants may be determined at different rates. For example, without limitation, the contest rules may state that all correct answers submitted within the same week win the prize. Alternatively, the contest rules may state that all correct answers submitted within the same day share the prize or only all correct answers submitted within the same second share the prize. This can be used by the contest operators to adjust the number of winners of an individual contest. For example, without limitation, a contest operated where winners that submitted their answers within the same week win the prize has the potential to yield a large number of winners. However, a contest in which only winners who answer correctly within the same second share the prize is likely to have a small number of contestants who win and share the prize.
 [0055]In embodiments where contest fees make up part of the prize pool, the portion of contest fees that are added to the prize pool may be altered in order to increase or decrease the size of the prize over the duration of the contest. For example, without limitation, in some embodiments, 10% of the entrance fee may go into the prize jackpot. This would yield a slowly growing jackpot. In alternative embodiments, 95% of all fees may go into the prize jackpot, and this would yield a quickly growing prize payout and much larger prize pools. In alternate embodiments contest fees may make up the entire prize pool, and in other embodiments, contest fees may not be included in the prize pool. In yet other alternate embodiments, there may be no contest fees. These embodiments may be useful for situations such as, but not limited to, promotional campaigns.
 [0056]In another alternate embodiment, the preceding contest may be altered such that a prize can be awarded for getting the correct digits in any order. For example, without limitation, if the correct digit sequence is 123, any of the following sequences would also win a prize: 213, 231, 132, 312, and 321. In the present embodiment, the largest prize may be reserved for the correct sequence of digits 123, or the prize may be split equally between all of the winning contestants.
 [0057]In another embodiment, the preceding contest can be modified such that contestants that correctly answer portions of the sequence are awarded smaller prizes. For example, without limitation, if a contestant were to get only the first three digits of an eightdigit sequence correct, he may be awarded a prize equivalent to one tenth of the prize for getting the entire sequence correct.
 [0058]In another alternate embodiment, contestants may engage in tournament play. In the present embodiment, the number of contestants is limited to a fixed number and only those limited contestants may compete for the prize money awarded by calculating the solution to the mathematical problem. The computational difficulty of the problem is established at the beginning of the contest by the operators to set a selected difficulty level for the contest. For example, without limitation, a contest may be held with a limit of 1000 contestants at a time with a computational difficulty of one day for solving the equation using a known method. The first contestant to solve the equation wins the entire prize amount.
 [0059]
FIG. 11 is a flow chart illustrating the operation of an exemplary contest where the mathematical equation is a cryptographic algorithm in which the solution is an encoded string of letters and numbers, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In the present embodiment, the contestants are provided with an encrypted string and asked to determine the original plain text version of the string using a cryptographic solver. The solution to this problem is a series of letters and numbers of a finite length. Contestants are challenged to use provided software or their own tools to determine the original clear text message. The first person to compute the solution to the problem is awarded the prize. For example, without limitation, the word ticket may be encoded utilizing a DES encryption algorithm and contestants may be asked to determine the original word based on the encryption string. Utilizing a decryption algorithm, contestants can solve the problem in a fixed amount of time utilizing a computer. The operators of the contest can adjust the difficulty of the challenge by adjusting the length of the encryption key used to encode the original word or phrase. Entry tickets for this type of contest consist of a fixed area for writing in the clear text message solved from the encoded text message placed on the front.  [0060]The present embodiment begins at step 1101 where the operators of the contest select the duration of the contest. Then in step 1105, the operators select a cryptographic key, and in step 1110, the operators select a clear text answer. In step 1115, the clear text answer is encoded, and in step 1120, a cryptographic cipher is generated. Then the contest and the cipher are announced in step 1125. Contestants then enter the contest in step 1130 and compute the clear text answer in step 1135. Instep 1140, the operators of the contest decide if it is time to check for winners. If it is not time to check for winners, the process returns to step 1130 so that more contestants may enter. If it is time to check for winners, the operators check for winners in step 1145. If there are no winners, the operators announce that there are no winners in step 1150, and the process returns to step 1130 so more contestants may enter. If there are winners, the operators stop the contest and announce the winners in step 1155. The winners are paid in step 1160. In step 1165 a new contest is started, and the process returns to step 1101.
 [0061]In alternate embodiments the mathematical equation can be altered in order to change the difficulty of the contest and to reduce the possibility of cheating. The following nonlimiting examples are some of the mathematical equations that may be used as problems to be solved. The mathematical problem to be solved can be to determine the xth digit of a specific irrational number that is a square root of a rational number. In another example, the mathematical problem to be solved can be to determine the xth digit of a specific irrational number specified via a simple mathematical function. In another example, The mathematical problem to be solved can be to determine the xth digit in the sequence of digits generated from a Linear Feedback Shift Register defined over GF(2̂n) where n can range from values 63 to 128 or higher if necessary. In another example, The mathematical problem to be solved can be to determine the xth digit in the sequence of digits generated from a NonLinear Feedback Shift Register defined over GF(2̂n) where n can range from values 63 to 128 or higher if necessary. In another example, The mathematical problem to be solved can be to determine the xth digit of the smallest prime number from the factorization of the product of two primes. The previous are merely a listing of a few of the possible equations that can be used. Any computationally challenging mathematical equation that produces a string of digits as its evaluation can be used as the question to be answered in a contest.
 [0062]
FIG. 12 is a flow chart illustrating an exemplary process of the participation of a contestant in a nonrandom numeric contest, according to an embodiment of the present invention. In the present example, the contestant reads the rules of the contest in step 1201, and, in step 1205, the contestant decides if he will enter the contest. If the contestant decides not to enter the contest, the process ends at step 1210. If the contestant decides to enter the contest, the contestant purchases a ticket in step 1215. Then, in step 1220, the contestant reads the challenge on the ticket.  [0063]The contestant then attempts to solve the challenge in step 1225. In some embodiments a method for solving the problem may be provided by the contest operators. The contestant determines if there is a method provided for solving the problem in step 1230. If there is no provided method for solving challenge, the contestant uses his own method for solving the challenge in step 1235 to reach a solution in step 1250. If there is a provided method for solving the problem, the contestant downloads the software for the method in step 1240. In alternate embodiments, the method may be purchased as software that is installed onto the contestant's computer, or this software may be included with the contest ticket at no cost. In the present embodiment, the provided software is used to solve the challenge in step 1245. The amount of time required to solve the challenge varies from contest to contest depending on the difficulty of the challenge. In the present example, the contestant solved the challenge in four days to come to a solution in step 1250.
 [0064]Using the solution found in step 1250, the contestant scratches off the answer on the ticket in step 1255 and determines if this answer is correct in step 1260. If the answer is not correct, the contestant discards the ticket in step 1265. If the answer is correct, the contestant submits the ticket to the contest operator in step 1270. The operator determines if the ticket is expired in step 1275. If the ticket is expired, the contestant is not paid and the ticket is collected in step 1280. If the ticket has not expired, the operator determines if the answer is correct in step 1285. If the answer is not correct, the ticket is collected in step 1290 and the contestant is not paid. If the answer is correct, the operator collects the ticket and pays the contestant in step 1295.
 [0065]In an alternative embodiment, contestants are prompted for their age and then asked to calculate that many digits of a specific mathematical equation.
 [0066]In yet another embodiment, contestants are prompted for the number of digits in their closest friends name and then prompted to calculate that specific digit of a specific irrational number.
 [0067]In still another embodiment, contestants are prompted to submit their name and then multiple contestants could attempt to find the digit that matches its length in the same puzzle. In this contest embodiment the first contestant to compute the index wins the contest.
 [0068]It should be appreciated that unlike games of chance like lottery games, raffles, sweepstakes, craps, sports wagering, and the like, the foregoing embodiments have described a multiplicity of novel approaches to provide a game play based on a completely deterministic question/valid answer approach that involves no degree of chance in determining a valid answer. It should be appreciated that those skilled in the art, however, may recognize opportunities to introduce conventional random game play aspects in useful combination with the deterministic game play approach illustrated by way of example in the foregoing embodiments. For example, without limitation, some contemplated alternate embodiments which include some degree of randomness include embodiments where contestants may scratch off a randomly chosen initial digit to determine which of three equations needs to be solved; and, contestants may scratch off a randomly chosen amplifier digit that multiplies or reduces their prize payout; and, contestants may scratch off a randomly chosen expiration date that may lengthen or shorten the time that they have to solve the particular problem associated with the ticket; and, in online games contestants may select an option to choose at another contestants answer to the same question at random. Thus accepting the same fate as another contestant in terms of winning or losing; and, in online games contestants may select to look at up to three other random contestants answers each time lowering their potential payout by some percentage amount; and, in online games contestants may select hints of which digit is an incorrect answer at the price of lowering their payout by a fixed percentage for each hint received; and, a two part contest could be operated where the contestant must solve two puzzles. The solution digit of the first puzzle selects the second puzzle to be solved. They must solve both puzzles correctly to win a prize; and, a two part contest where the solution to the first puzzle answer is multiplied by a random factor and a second puzzle is selected from this new random digit for solution. The contestant must answer both puzzles correctly to win. In a simple variant on this the contestant can select the random multiplier himself. They must select a multiplier other than the digit one.
 [0069]
FIG. 13 illustrates a typical computer system that, when appropriately configured or designed, can serve as a computer system in which the invention may be embodied. The computer system 1300 includes any number of processors 1302 (also referred to as central processing units, or CPUs) that are coupled to storage devices including primary storage 1306 (typically a random access memory, or RAM), primary storage 1304 (typically a read only memory, or ROM). CPU 1302 may be of various types including microcontrollers (e.g., with embedded RAM/ROM) and microprocessors such as programmable devices (e.g., RISC or SISC based, or CPLDs and FPGAs) and unprogrammable devices such as gate array ASICs or general purpose microprocessors. As is well known in the art, primary storage 1304 acts to transfer data and instructions unidirectionally to the CPU and primary storage 1306 is used typically to transfer data and instructions in a bidirectional manner. Both of these primary storage devices may include any suitable computerreadable media such as those described above. A mass storage device 1308 may also be coupled bidirectionally to CPU 1302 and provides additional data storage capacity and may include any of the computerreadable media described above. Mass storage device 1308 may be used to store programs, data and the like and is typically a secondary storage medium such as a hard disk. It will be appreciated that the information retained within the mass storage device 1308, may, in appropriate cases, be incorporated in standard fashion as part of primary storage 1306 as virtual memory. A specific mass storage device such as a CDROM 1314 may also pass data unidirectionally to the CPU.  [0070]CPU 1302 may also be coupled to an interface 1310 that connects to one or more input/output devices such as such as video monitors, track balls, mice, keyboards, microphones, touchsensitive displays, transducer card readers, magnetic or paper tape readers, tablets, styluses, voice or handwriting recognizers, or other wellknown input devices such as, of course, other computers. Finally, CPU 1302 optionally may be coupled to an external device such as a database or a computer or telecommunications or internet network using an external connection as shown generally at 1312, which may be implemented as a hardwired or wireless communications link using suitable conventional technologies. With such a connection, it is contemplated that the CPU might receive information from the network, or might output information to the network in the course of performing the method steps described in the teachings of the present invention.
 [0071]Those skilled in the art will readily recognize, in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, that any of the foregoing steps and/or system modules may be suitably replaced, reordered, removed and additional steps and/or system modules may be inserted depending upon the needs of the particular application, and that the systems of the foregoing embodiments may be implemented using any of a wide variety of suitable processes and system modules, and is not limited to any particular computer hardware, software, middleware, firmware, microcode and the like.
 [0072]Any claim elements and steps herein that have been numbered and/or lettered are done so solely as an aid in readability and understanding. As such, the numbering and lettering in itself is not intended to and should not be taken to indicate the ordering of elements and/or steps in the claims.
 [0073]It will be further apparent to those skilled in the art that at least a portion of the novel method steps and/or system components of the present invention may be practiced and/or located in location(s) possibly outside the jurisdiction of the United States of America (USA), whereby it will be accordingly readily recognized that at least a subset of the novel method steps and/or system components in the foregoing embodiments must be practiced within the jurisdiction of the USA for the benefit of an entity therein or to achieve an object of the present invention. Thus, some alternate embodiments of the present invention may be configured to comprise a smaller subset of the foregoing novel means for and/or steps described that the applications designer will selectively decide, depending upon the practical considerations of the particular implementation, to carry out and/or locate within the jurisdiction of the USA. For any claims construction of the following claims that are construed under 35 USC §112(6) it is intended that the corresponding means for and/or steps for carrying out the claimed function also include those embodiments, and equivalents, as contemplated above that implement at least some novel aspects and objects of the present invention in the jurisdiction of the USA. For example, the determining and/or generating of the questions to be asked, and the storing of questions and answers may be performed and/or located outside of the jurisdiction of the USA while the remaining method steps and/or system components of the forgoing embodiments are typically required to be located/performed in the US for practical considerations.
 [0074]Having fully described at least one embodiment of the present invention, other equivalent or alternative means for implementing a method for using the solution to computationally difficult mathematical equations to determine the winners of numeric contests according to the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Many of the steps described in accordance with the exemplary figures may be performed in various different orders to achieve the same result. For example, without limitation, in
FIG. 12 , the contestant may decide to participate in the contest, step 1205 before he reads the rules of the contest step 1201. Also various types of tickets may be used in different embodiments such as, but not limited to, nonscratch off tickets, or tickets where a portion of the ticket can be removed to reveal whether the contestant won on a lower layer. The invention has been described above by way of illustration, and the specific embodiments disclosed are not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed. The invention is thus to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the following claims.
Claims (36)
1. A gaming method for a contest, the method comprising the steps of:
generating at least one or more mathematical problems to be solved by contestants;
providing an announcement of the contest to potential contestants;
providing instructions comprising said at least one or more mathematical problems and rules of play for the contest to participating contestants;
determining, after a predetermined period of time, if one or more participating contestants has correctly solved said problem and is a winner;
continuing to provide said at least one or more mathematical problems and rules of play for the contest in the absence of said winner; and
stopping the contest when one or more winners are determined.
2. The method as recited in claim 1 , further comprising the step of distributing a prize to said one or more winners.
3. The method as recited in claim 1 , in which said predetermined period of time is determined in part by a difficulty of solving said mathematical problem.
4. The method as recited in claim 1 , further comprising the step of providing a means for solving said at least one or more mathematical problems to said participating contestants.
5. The method as recited in claim 1 , further comprising the step of including a random factor in said instructions for modifying the playing of the contest.
6. The method as recited in claim 1 , further comprising the step of including a random choice for said participating contestants.
7. The method as recited in claim 6 , in which said random choice determines a one of said mathematical problems said participating contestant is to solve.
8. The method as recited in claim 6 , in which said random choice, in part, determines a value of said prize.
9. The method as recited in claim 1 , in which said instructions are in part provided by a contest ticket.
10. The method as recited in claim 9 , in which said step of determining includes examining contest tickets entered by participating contestants.
11. The method as recited in claim 1 , further including the step of selecting a duration for the contest.
12. The method as recited in claim 11 , in which said duration is included with said instructions.
13. The method as recited in claim 11 , in which said duration is in part selected by the complexity of said mathematical problem.
14. The method as recited in claim 1 , in which said at least one or more mathematical problems is a cryptographic algorithm and said generating comprises encoding a clear text message.
15. A gaming method for a contest, the system comprising:
a steps for generating one or more mathematical type problems;
a steps for announcing the contest to potential contestants;
a steps for providing said one or more mathematical problems and rules of play to participating contestants;
a steps for determining, after a predetermined period of time, if one or more participating contestants has correctly solved said problem and is a winner;
a steps for continuing to provide said problem and rules in the absence of said winner;
a steps for stopping the contest when one or more winners are determined; and
a steps for distributing a prize to said one or more winners.
16. The system as recited in claim 15 , further comprising a steps for including a random factor.
17. The system as recited in claim 15 , further comprising steps for providing a means for solving said one or more mathematical problems to said participating contestants.
18. The system as recited in claim 15 , further comprising steps for selecting a duration for the contest.
19. The system as recited in claim 18 , further comprising steps for providing said duration to said participating contestants.
20. A method for generating a contest, the method comprising the steps of:
creating a plurality of mathematical problems to be solved;
obtaining a predetermined number of contest tickets for each of said mathematical problems, said contest tickets being shuffled and divided into a predetermined number of lots; and
distributing said lots for purchase by potential contestants.
21. A system for generating a contest comprising:
a means for creating a plurality of mathematical problems to be solved;
a means for generating a predetermined number of contest tickets for each of said mathematical problems;
a means for combining, shuffling and dividing said contest tickets into a predetermined number of lots; and
a means for distributing said lots for purchase by potential contestants.
22. A process for participating in a contest, the process comprising the steps of:
obtaining a contest entry;
solving at least one mathematical problem presented on said contest entry;
displaying on said contest entry if a solution of said mathematical problem is correct; and
submitting said contest entry for verification if said solution is correct.
23. The process as recited in claim 22 , further comprising the step of determining if a means for solving said mathematical problem is provided by the contest and using said method in solving said mathematical problem.
24. The process as recited in claim 23 , in which said step of determining further comprises obtaining said method.
25. The process as recited in claim 24 , in which said obtaining of said method is accomplished in part using a computer connection.
26. The process as recited in claim 24 , in which said obtaining of said method is accomplished by purchase.
27. The process as recited in claim 22 , further comprising the step of choosing a random factor provided with said contest entry.
28. The process as recited in claim 22 , further comprising using a random factor for effecting the play of the contest.
29. The process as recited in claim 22 , in which said contest entry is obtained by purchase of a contest ticket.
30. A system for participating in a contest, the system comprising:
a means for obtaining a contest entry;
a means for solving at least one mathematical problem presented on said contest entry;
a means for displaying on said contest entry if a solution of said mathematical problem is correct; and
a means for submitting said contest entry for verification if said solution is correct.
31. The system as recited in claim 30 , further comprising a means for obtaining a method for solving said at least one mathematical problem.
32. The system as recited in claim 30 , further comprising a means for providing a random factor.
33. A contest ticket for a deterministic game play, the ticket comprising:
a first side comprising indicia providing instructions with at least one mathematical problem to be solved; and
a second side comprising indicia providing a plurality of solutions to said mathematical problem including at least one correct solution to said mathematical problem and a means for indicating said one correct solution when said one correct solution is selected.
The ticket as recited in claim 33 , in which said plurality of solutions are arranged in a gird.
34. The ticket as recited in claim 33 , in which a one of or both of said first side and said second side includes a random factor.
35. The ticket as recited in claim 33 , in which said random factor is selectable.
36. The ticket as recited in claim 33 , further comprising a method for solving said at least one mathematical problem.
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