Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tamerlano's Trap

"Now be careful!" Tamerlano warned his prisoner. "You can see that in this room, there are two doors guarded by two soldiers. You can tell by their clothes that they come from two different clans. One of the doors leads to a pool of crocodiles; the other one leads to a healthy horse and a sack of gold. To determine which door leads to certain death and which leads to freedom and wealth, you may ask a single question to one of these soldiers. From that answer, you must make your decision. One more warning; one of these soldiers always tells the truth, and the other one always lies."

The prisoner, an intelligent Greek merchant, meditated for a while, bowed to the great conqueror, and with a grin on his face, approached one of the soldiers.

What question would open the door of freedom?

Tamerlano's Trap Puzzle Solution

The merchant asked one of the soldiers, it didn't matter which one: "If I had asked your colleague which door leads to freedom, which of the two doors would he have pointed me to?"

If the interrogated soldier was the one that tells the truth, he would have pointed him to the door that leads to death, because that's the door that the liar would have showed. But even if the same question was asked the liar, the same door (the one that leads to death) would have been the one pointed at, ie the door opposite the one that would have been shown by the truthful soldier.

Once obtained the answer, the merchant went to the door he was NOT pointed at, and enjoyed his freedom.