V Pattabhi Ram and V Lavanya
Wafers wasn’t a chiseled beauty. At best, she had the girl next door looks. But when you got to know her closely three things namely her native innocence, her unabashed humility and her perennial hunger for knowledge would hit you like a breath of fresh air. Little wonder, many people liked to make friends with Wafers. While the lady wasn’t exactly choosy about friends there were only a few with who she would be at her disarming best. The encyclopedic China was one of them.
“Hey, tell me a way to make some large, quick money” she told China as the two sipped cappuccino at the up-market coffee shop. The comment was very unlike Wafers, but China decided to bite the bullet. “How much do you want to make and how fast?” he asked. “Hmmm….. 5 lakhs for no effort and I must get it in the next 6 months” she said with rare belligerence. “Ha, Wafers. You never seem to think big. I will let you in on an opportunity to make about 40 lakhs in 3 months, no risks” remarked China sporting a sneaky smile. You could never read China’s mind from his smile.
Wafers almost spilled the cappuccino on her freshly laundered white tops. Pushing back her mopped hair in signature style, she asked, “Really?” China would not be China if he didn’t say “Yeah.” Wafers was all curious. “How do we do it?”
“The Twenty20 World Cup is going to be played in South Africa this September 07. This is what you should do. Get email ids of 10,000 cricket buffs. Tell them that you will predict the winners of three matches namely the pre-quarter finals, the quarter finals and the semi finals and that you will charge them a fee of Rs 2,000 for the effort” said China as the captain brought in the next plate of French fries. “Why would they trust me?” asked Wafers. “Because” said China “They aren’t going to lose. Because you would promise them that if any one of the predictions that you make goes wrong you will return their Rs 2,000/- That’s your trump card“. The auditor in Wafers came forth. “How do they take my word about the return of money?” China was quick, “Because you will ask them to deposit it in a bank account which you will hold jointly with one of the Big 4 audit firms. That will be your ace of trumps.”
“Okay what happens next? How do I predict who will win.” asked a curious Wafers. China went on an explanation mode. “Suppose India is playing New Zealand in the pre-quarter finals. You will collect Rs 2,000 from each of the 10,000 cricket buffs, that’s a cool Rs 2 crore. To 5,000 of them you will predict that India will win and to the other 5,000 you will predict that New Zealand will win.” Wafers was amazed. “Wow” was all that she could utter. China ignored the expression. “Now you would have made the correct prediction to 5,000 people because either India or New Zealand will win. For simplicity we will ignore ties and no results. Wafers said, “Very True” and asked “What happens next?”
“Say India wins. To the 5,000 people to whom you predicted that New Zealand will win you will return their Rs 2,000/-. So you would have returned Rs 1 crore. To them you will make no more predictions because your first prediction had gone wrong. To the other 5,000 people whose Rs 1 crore is with you, you will make the next prediction; that is for the quarterfinals between India and Pakistan” explained China.
“To 2,500 of them I will say that India will win and to the other 2,500 I will say Pakistan will win. Right?” asked Wafers with an obvious glee in her eyes. “Yup” said China pleased that Wafers had cottoned on. And added, “Now tell me what happens next?”
“I would have made the correct prediction to 2,500 people because either India or Pakistan will win. “Suppose India wins. To the 2,500 people to whom I had predicted that Pakistan will win I will return their Rs 2,000/-. So I would have returned Rs 50 lakhs and will now be sitting on the other Rs 50 lakhs” said Wafers joyous at a step by step solution to the situation.
“To the 2,500 people to whom you predicted Pakistan would win and got the prediction wrong, you will not make a prediction about the semifinals. For the semifinals between India and Australia you will tell 1,250 people that India will win and the other 1,250 people that Australia will win. Suppose India wins. You will return Rs 25 lakhs to those to whom you had predicted that Australia will win. So boy, you would have now made a cool Rs 25 lakhs because to 1,250 people you got all three predictions right. To these 1.250 you don’t have to return money” closed out China
Wafers was on a song. “Why should I stop with the semifinals? I can now ask each of the 1,250 people to chip in another Rs 2,000 for a prediction about the finals. Surely they will pay since they got it right thrice. And I will give them the same promise. That if my prediction about the finals goes wrong I will return their money.” China couldn’t but say “Bravo.” Wafers was hardly listening to him. She was excited. “I will tell 625 of them that India will win and will tell the other 625 that South Africa will win. Since I would be wrong in one of the two predictions I will return Rs 1250,000 and retain the other Rs 1250,000. Wow that’s Rs 3750,000 all told”.
China smiled. And suddenly Wafers felt that this was too good to be true. “Hey, how would the people who use my prediction gain?” she asked. “Well, they can take bets on the matches” said China. “But isn’t betting illegal in India?” asked Wafers. “That isn’t our problem. Okay they may participate in Predict and Win contests. Anyways, I think it is ridiculous to not allow betting when you can allow lotteries” remarked China throwing in three ideas simultaneously. Wafers quickly pointed out, “the fee that I collect will not amount to gambling since it is a fee for service rendered.” China couldn’t but admire Wafers’ thinking shop.
“Hey shall we kick off this game?” asked Wafers. “Nothing wrong in trying out” said China. “Well, it’s a great idea. If betting is illegal where else can this idea come to play” asked Wafers with child like innocence. “Figure it out yourself madam” said China as the captain brought in the check”.