This is an unsolveable deal from the Game of Set. I found it with SCIENCE!
The Game of Set works like this: a deal of cards are laid on the table, and then people try to spot valid
“sets” according to certain rules – see the website for details.
Caterina recently posted
a deal of 15 that, surprisingly, seemed to have no sets. So she asked
the lazyweb to find one. It turns out there are no solutions at all!
Flickr user “otherthing” asked what the minimum number of cards is to
guarantee at least one solution. I found a paper
about this – amazingly you can deal up to 20 cards without getting a
single set. The author didn’t translate the results back to Set form, so
here it is – one of the insoluble 20-card deals, which I’m taking the
liberty of naming a “devil’s deal”. Use it to torture your friends, or
win bar bets in Silicon Valley.