Einstein’s Riddle

Einstein wrote the following riddle. He claimed that 98% of the world could not solve it:

1. There are five houses in five different color.
2. In each house lives a person with a different nationality.
3. These five owners drink a certain type of beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar, and keep a certain pet.
4. No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar, or drink the same beverage.

The question is: Who owns the fish?

Hints:

• the Brit lives in the red house
• the Swede keeps dogs as pets
• the Dane drinks tea
• the green house is on the left of the white house
• the green house’s owner drinks coffee
• the person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds
• the owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill
• the man living in the center house drinks milk
• the Norwegian lives in the first house
• the man who smokes blends lives next to the one who keeps cats
• the man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill
• the owner who smokes BlueMaster drinks beer
• the German smokes Prince
• the Norwegian lives next to the blue house
• the man who smokes blend has a neighbor who drinks water
• Most people spend about 30-60 minutes working this out. People have done this quickly, and a few of the people I know were even industrious enough to work the riddle out in Excel.

Something I found exceptionally interesting about this riddle is that Einstein’s proposed answer is not the only possibility! There are actually three correct answers to this. I do wish I Mr. Einstein was still here so that I could email him and discuss this further. I’d explain his mistake, and offer to make the riddle even better by eliminating his answer from possibility, leaving only one as the only correct one. Here’s the challenge I’d throw Einstein’s way:

• THE CAT OWNER LIVES NEXT DOOR TO THE GREEN HOUSE.
• THE PALL MALL SMOKER LIVES NEXT DOOR TO THE BLUE HOUSE.
• (Tip: get creative and think laterally.)

Al said 98% of the world could not get his riddle. Assuming he was accurate, I’d say that of the remaining 2% that do succeed, 98% of them won’t be able to make it work with the cat owner living next door to the green house and the Pall Mall smoker living next door to the blue house.

Good luck! Answers will be posted later.

• jaced June 27, 2005, 12:10 am

***WARNING: SPOILER BELOW***
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Breakdown, left to right:

1. Yellow, Norwegian, water, Dunhill, cats
2. Blue, Dane, tea, blends, horses
3. Red, Brit, milk, Pall Mall, birds
4. Green, German, coffee, Prince, FISH
5. White, Swede, beer, BlueMaster, dogs

However, our favorite quantum physics guru overlooked the following possibilities:

Breakdown, left to right:

1. Green, Norwegian, coffee, Pall Mall, birds
2. Blue, German, water, Prince, cats
3. White, Swede, beer, BlueMaster, dogs
4. Yellow, Dane, tea, Dunhill, FISH
5. Red, Brit, beer, BlueMaster, horses

Or,

Breakdown, left to right:

1. Green, Norwegian, coffee, blends, FISH
2. Blue, German, water, Prince, cats
3. Yellow, Swede, milk, Dunhill, dogs
4. Red, Brit, beer, BlueMaster, horses
5. White, Dane, tea, Pall Mall, birds

*Extra Bonus: There is a fourth configuration based on the Dane answer. Simply swap white, Swede, and dogs with red, Brit, and horses. (Thanks, Andreas.)

Note that the loophole in Einstein’s riddle lies in his ambiguous phrase, “the green house is on the left of the white house.” What he overlooked was that this doesn’t necessarily mean IMMEDIATELY to the left. Surprising how a person so fascinated with relativity would blow it like that!

• Lette August 13, 2008, 12:30 pm

totally slow today at the office today. Took me a cool 13mins to get the German. more please