Project Horseshoe - An Empirical Search For Luck

horseshoethumb.jpgDoes luck exist? Not luck in the sense of plunging pianos precisely failing to hit passing preoccupied pedestrians - luck in the sense of fortuitous outcome, manufactured or provoked by items or actions considered 'lucky'.

I propose an experiment, in which every effort will be made to impart luck to an outcome - here it is.

Every time I see a lost coin on the ground, I'll pick it up (what luck!) and collect it in a jar. also in the jar, attached to it, or surrounding it, will be a comprehensive selection of lucky items - such as four leafed clovers and this horseshoe, which I found in the New Forest last summer.

horseshoe1.jpgAll reasonable effort will be made to impart and infuse luck to the money pot.

when the jar contains sufficient funds, I'll use it to buy a lottery ticket - and we'll see just how lucky it has become...


START - Friday 15th May -
I found a 5p coin in the doorway of Portsmouth Civic Offices

Monday 18th May -
My daughter found a 2p coin at Manor Farm Country Park. Funds now stand at 7 pence (Lucky 7?)

Wednesday 20th May -
I found 5p in the road gutter outside the local school

Thursday 21st May -
5p in Botley Square - boosting funds to 17 pence (having avoided ever stopping at unlucky 13!)
I found a pin on the floor of the train on the way to work - "see a pin and pick it up - all that day, you'll have good luck" (so my mother used to tell me) - I put it in the jar with the money

Friday 22nd May -
2p in Botley Square.
A shiny penny outside Greggs in Portsmouth (a likely spot for pennies, as many of their prices end with a 9).
A penny in the foyer of Portsmouth and Southsea Station - Total fund now at 21 pence

Sunday 24th May -
What a day! - I went swimming and found 20p in the coin return slot in my locker, then I found another 20p on the floor in the changing rooms afterwards - finally, I found 5p on the floor outside by a vending machine. Total now: 66 pence.

Monday 25th May -
My son found 20p and 5p coins on the ground at cub scout camp. Total now: 91 pence - getting close...

Thursday 28th May -
I found a pound coin - a whole pound! - in Gosport town centre.
Later, my daughter found a penny in the lane near home.
That brings the total to £1.92 - more than enough to buy a lottery ticket now, but I'm reluctant to spend the pound on its own, as it's only a single lucky find.

Friday 29th May -
A penny in the foyer of Portsmouth and Southsea Station in the morning and another by the ticket machines in the afternoon - total now £1.94

Saturday 30th May -
A penny outside Hedge End Library, then another two near the shops. £1.97 in total now.

Sunday 31st May -
2p in the gutter just down the road from my house. £1.99 in total now... so close!

Monday 1st June -
2p in Botley Square.

Phase 1 Complete

OK, so I managed to collect £2.01 in about two weeks. Now to get the lottery tickets... I'm thinking:
Spend one pound on a ticket for next Saturday's lotto
Spend the second pound on an instant win scratchcard
Use the remaining (lucky) penny to scratch off the panels on the card.

Picking The Numbers

Dice are supposed to be lucky, aren't they? My daughter found one by the roadside the other day (it's been in the pot with the coins, nestled inside the horseshoe) - it's only a conventional 6-sided die though, so I need to work out a method of fairly generating lottery numbers from 1 to 49 with it.

My plan:
1. First roll (subtracting 1 and discarding rolls of 6) determines the first digit (0 to 4 inclusive)
2. Second roll (subtracting 1 and discarding rolls of 6) yields a number 0 to 4 inclusive
3. If third roll is even, add 5 to number from step 2 to yield the second digit
4. If the result is '00', discard and try again

OK, so let's play!

The Ticket

horseshoe2_1.JPGI'm not going to divulge the six numbers I picked just yet (in case I have to share the jackpot with a dozen people who read this page and thought they'd ride the wave with me - sorry), but I spent one pound on a lotto ticket for next Saturday's draw.

The other pound was spent on an instant-win scratch card, leaving one lucky penny in the jar to scratch off the surface to reveal...

A Win!

That's right! - I actually won something:

horseshoe2_2.JPGThree of anything to win it - so I won two pounds! - whatever happens now, I've at least broken even. Actually, better than that, because the initial stake money wasn't mine to begin with.

Two pounds... I promise I won't let it change me.

Waiting For Saturday

I waited patiently until Saturday to see if the lotto draw ticket would be similarly (or more) lucky...

The Draw

horseshoe2_3.JPGOK, so here are my numbers - 3, 5, 9, 24, 41 and 49...

horseshoe2_4.JPGAnd here are the results of the draw - 6, 14, 32, 35, 41, 42 and 43.

One number matched - no win.


I can't pretend to be very surprised about this - just to recap - I have still come out of this exercise two pounds better off than when I went in, but here's the really interesting bit: that would also have been the case if I had not played the lottery at all.

Hard work and diligence brought me a few pennies. Luck did nothing spectacular. Oh well.