Thrice Dice Twice

A once very difficult but now very simple problem in probability from Ian Stewart’s Do Dice Play God? (2019):

For three dice [Girolamo] Cardano solved a long-standing conundrum [in the sixteenth century]. Gamblers had long known from experience that when throwing three dice, a total of 10 is more likely than 9. This puzzled them, however, because there are six ways to get a total of 10:

1+4+5; 1+3+6; 2+4+4; 2+2+6; 2+3+5; 3+3+4

But also six ways to get a total of 9:

1+2+6; 1+3+5; 1+4+4; 2+2+5; 2+3+4; 3+3+3

So why does 10 occur more often?

To see the answer, imagine throwing three dice of different colors: red, blue and yellow. How many ways can you get 9 and how many ways can you get 10?

Roll Total=9 Dice #1 (Red) Dice #2 (Blue) Dice #3 (Yellow)
01 9 = 1 2 6
02 9 = 1 3 5
03 9 = 1 4 4
04 9 = 1 5 3
05 9 = 1 6 2
06 9 = 2 1 6
07 9 = 2 2 5
08 9 = 2 3 4
09 9 = 2 4 3
10 9 = 2 5 2
11 9 = 2 6 1
12 9 = 3 1 5
13 9 = 3 2 4
14 9 = 3 3 3
15 9 = 3 4 2
16 9 = 3 5 1
17 9 = 4 1 4
18 9 = 4 2 3
19 9 = 4 3 2
20 9 = 4 4 1
21 9 = 5 1 3
22 9 = 5 2 2
23 9 = 5 3 1
24 9 = 6 1 2
25 9 = 6 2 1
Roll Total=10 Dice #1 (Red) Dice #2 (Blue) Dice #3 (Yellow)
01 10 = 1 3 6
02 10 = 1 4 5
03 10 = 1 5 4
04 10 = 1 6 3
05 10 = 2 2 6
06 10 = 2 3 5
07 10 = 2 4 4
08 10 = 2 5 3
09 10 = 2 6 2
10 10 = 3 1 6
11 10 = 3 2 5
12 10 = 3 3 4
13 10 = 3 4 3
14 10 = 3 5 2
15 10 = 3 6 1
16 10 = 4 1 5
17 10 = 4 2 4
18 10 = 4 3 3
19 10 = 4 4 2
20 10 = 4 5 1
21 10 = 5 1 4
22 10 = 5 2 3
23 10 = 5 3 2
24 10 = 5 4 1
25 10 = 6 1 3
26 10 = 6 2 2
27 10 = 6 3 1

He Say, He Sigh, He Sow #46

“… for comic effect he also drew on neglected Arabic words, including buldah, or ‘freedom from hair of the space between the eyebrows’, and bahsala, to ‘remove one’s clothes and gamble with them’.” — Christopher de Bellaigue, The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle between Faith and Reason (2017), writing of the Lebanese Christian Maronite novelist Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (1805-87) (ch. 5, Vortex, pg. 167)