Eight reasons why everyone loves a coincidence

Everyone loves a coincidence, something to make your jaw drop before you say, "what are the chances?"; "SUCH a small world" or "that's so spooky!" Then you dine out on your story of chance, perhaps embellishing it each time, for as long as your memory allows.

For Sir David Spiegelhalter, the Cambridge statistician and professor of the Public Understanding of Risk, coincidences are also something to be celebrated, ideally today, because they are good for us. Tonight, Spiegelhalter will host a party in London as part of Huntrodds' Day, an event he conceived after finding inspiration in a Whitby graveyard.

A plaque there commemorates Frances and Mary Huntrodds, who were born on the same day (19 September 1600), married on their birthday and then died on that day, in 1680. Huntrodds' Parties require groups of 23 (preferably strangers) to meet, while wearing only name badges. The challenge: to find as many coincidences as possible and award a prize to the best one. Why 23? Because it gives a party a head start; in a group of that size, the odds of two people sharing a birthday are already one in two.

We asked colleagues for their greatest coincidences, listed anonymously below, in no particular order.

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