Friday, December 19, 2014

Tamerlano's Trap II

Alvise Moschin, a Venetian merchant, was dragged into the Hazel Room of Samarcanda Palacethe by a pair of soldiers. Although fairly worried, Moschin felt some confidence due to his knowledge of the East. He knew, through tales heard in wine bars, what was waiting for him and how he should react. For a start, he would find himself in front of two doors guarded by two soldiers, a liar and and truth-teller. That would not be a problem.

The street-smart Venetian was thrown onto the rug before a throne. Despite his predicament, he could not contain a grin, which only widened when he saw Tamerlano enter the room and take a seat upon the throne before him.

"Get up, merchant!" barked the conqueror. "There are two doors behind you--"

"Behind one of them there's a horse, and behind the other there are crocodiles, am I right?" interrupted the merchant.

Tamerlano leaned back. "You are smart and well informed, christian," he said. "However, this time we'll have a slight variation. You will not find two guards, but one. He will be the one to whom you may ask the single question. From that, you must decide which door will lead you to certain death and which to freedom. Also, you will not know whether he always lies or always tells the truth."

With his face pale, as if he had seen a ghost, Moschin turned around and saw that between the two doors, there was indeed only one guard. The guard bore a satanic grin, his piercing eyes staring. Moschin approached the guard slowly, his mind working frantically...

What question must Alvise Moschin ask to determine which is the door to freedom?

Tamerlano's Trap II Puzzle Solution

Moschin asked the guard: "If I had asked you which door leads to freedom, which door would you have pointed me to?"

If the guard was truthful, he would have shown the right door. If he lies, he would have again shown the right door, because he would have given the merchant the opposite answer to what he would have given if he was asked a direct question.