Saturday, June 27, 2015

Four Hats

Four men have been buried all the way to the neck, only their heads stick out. They cannot turn their heads, so they can see only in front of them. A wall has been placed between A and B, so that A cannot see the other 3 (B, C, D), and viceversa. All of them know in which position the others have been buried. So, for example, B knows that C and D can see him, even though he can't see them.

A hat has been placed on top of each man's head. All of them know that there are two black hats and two white hats, but no one is told the colour of the hat he's wearing.

four hats
They will all be saved if at least one of them can safely say what colour is the hat he's wearing. Otherwise they'll all be decapitated.

Which one of them saved the day? And, most importantly, how?

Four Hats Puzzle Solution

C saves the day.

D clearly has the most information at his hands, but seeing one white and one black hat doesn't give him any certainty about his own hat's colour. Would B and C both have been wearing the same colour, D would have been able to provide the answer.

But C is one clever guy and he knows that if D doesn't answer, it means that B is wearing a different colour than him. Because B is wearing white, C knows he's wearing black.

Note that A is redundant: the puzzle could have included only B, C, D. That way, the hats would have been three, with two hats of the same unspecified colour, and one other hat of the opposite colour.