Sometimes, we come across a puzzle so creative we just have to share it with you.
It turns out this one has been confounding clever minds since the 9th century, so if you can solve it in under a minute, consider us impressed.
“Once upon a time, a boy was walking along a river and saw a man in distress.
He asked the man what was wrong, and learned he was caught in an impossible problem.
The man had gone to the market that day and bought three things: a cabbage, a goat, and a wolf.
An illustration of the problem.Wikimedia
To get home, he had to cross a small river on a boat. But his boat was so small, it could only hold him and one of his purchases.
‘Why not take them across the river one-by-one?’ the boy asked.
The man revealed two more problems:
- If the goat is left alone with the cabbage, it will eat it.
- If the wolf is left alone with the goat, it will eat it.
The man was in tears, worrying he would never cross the river with all three of his purchases.
The young boy sat beside the man and thought quietly.
‘Eureka!’ he shouted at once, ‘I know the answer!’”
Did you solve the puzzle? Now check if your answer is correct:
This is one of those tricky riddles that seems like it has no answer until you take it step-by-step.
Here’s what the clever boy told the man to do:
‘Take the goat across the river, and leave the wolf and cabbage on the other bank.
Leave the goat across the river, but return with the boat.
Take the cabbage in the boat and cross the river again. Now, swap the cabbage for the goat, and cross back.
Then, swap the goat for the wolf, and take the wolf across the river. Leave it there with the cabbage.
Finally, pick up the goat and sail across the river one last time.
Now, the goat, the wolf, and the cabbage have all crossed the river safely.’
The boy wasn’t any brighter than you or me, but he knew a lesson that we should all remember:
If it takes seven trips to do something the right way, don’t settle for three!
Did you solve the puzzle? Share it with a friend, but DON’T give away the answer!