IMO Shortlist 2005 problem C5

  Avg: 0.0
  Avg: 8.0
Dodao/la: arhiva
April 2, 2012
There are n markers, each with one side white and the other side black. In the beginning, these n markers are aligned in a row so that their white sides are all up. In each step, if possible, we choose a marker whose white side is up (but not one of the outermost markers), remove it, and reverse the closest marker to the left of it and also reverse the closest marker to the right of it. Prove that, by a finite sequence of such steps, one can achieve a state with only two markers remaining if and only if n - 1 is not divisible by 3.
Source: Međunarodna matematička olimpijada, shortlist 2005