Beach Day by Rodger Bliss
September 2021
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5 guesses to The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker’s Dilemma


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  • Howard

    If the first guy to look had seen two black hats, he would have known he was wearing a white hat. But he could not give that answer because it he did not see two black hats, and his own hat could be white or black and he does not want to guess..

    The second guy when he looks knows that the first guy must have seen at least one white hat. And if he himself sees two black hats, he knows his is white. And if he sees one black hat he knows his is white. But, if he sees two white hats, his own hat could be be black or white and he does not want to guess..

    The third guy knows all of the above. He is certain the first guy did not see two black hats, so his could not be certainly white, and guys 1 and 2 both saw at least 1 white hat. No-one sees two black hats. No-one sees a secure answer, and since there is none, he who gets free is the one who figures out that since no-one has has a logically secure answer, and the only way that can happen is for all the hats to be white.

  • Togram

    The Candlestick Maker knows his cap has a white feather. The other 2 saying they didn’t know means they saw a black and a white feather, knowing that theirs could be either one. If they’d seen two blacks, then they would know theirs was white, as there were only 2 blacks presented in the first place….but they didn’t.
    The Butcher and the Baker had black feathers.

  • Keegan

    It’s impossible to deduct what the Butcher and Baker’s cap colour is, however the Baker being unsure means that the Candlestick Maker’s cap is not black. Here’s why:

    Since the Butcher is unsure, no more than one of the other caps is black, so they could be both white, or only one can be black.

    If the Baker knows that only one cap could be black, or both of them white between the Baker and Candlemaker, and he sees that the Candlemaker’s cap is black, then he would know that his is white. He is unsure however, meaning that the Candlemaker’s cap is not black.

    So the Candlestick maker whispered that his cap’s feather is white.

  • Aaron

    The candlestick maker knew the king was testing him. 1(: He would not have received a blindfold if the king truly believed he was blind. Futhermore, though the butcher and the baker both saw at least one white feather, then the candlestick maker would not necessarily know if his feather was a particular color, even if he did see (maybe the butcher and the baker both saw the candlestick maker with the white feather). However, what we can conclude is that despite not knowing his own feather color, the candlestick maker was certain the king was testing him. 2(: Why involve the candlestick maker at all if he “couldn’t possibly be in a position to answer?”

  • Paul

    To solve this, look at it from the third (blind) man’s perspective (the Candlestick maker).

    When the Butcher’s blindfold is removed, he cannot make a sure answer. This means that either he saw TWO WHITE feathers, or a BLACK AND A WHITE feather on the two remaining gentlemen. THESE ARE THE ONLY TWO POSSIBILITIES AT THIS POINT IN THE RIDDLE, and both the remaining gentlemen realize this.

    Now the Baker takes off his blindfold.
    IF THE CANDLESTICK MAKER is wearing a BLACK feather, the Baker would immediately know he’s wearing a WHITE feather and would make that guess. Why? Remember the Butcher’s above guess and what it told the other two remaining players — it told them that the two of them were either wearing TWO WHITE feathers, or ONE BLACK AND ONE WHITE feather.
    If the Candlestick maker’s cap had a BLACK feather in it, the Baker would immediately know his cap has a WHITE feather!

    But he gives no answer! By doing this — giving no answer — the Baker has told the Candlestick maker that his (the Candlestick maker’s) cap does NOT have a BLACK feather in it. Ergo, it MUST have a WHITE feather in it!

    So, even while being blind, the Candlestick maker knows the color of his feather! It’s WHITE!

    (Now try to add a twist to it. Same riddle — up to a point. THIS time the King is going to use ONE black feather and FOUR WHITE FEATHERS! And instead of announcing their guesses, each gentleman will whisper his answer to the king. The Butcher is to go first, the Baker is to go second, and the Candlestick maker is to go third.

    “Wait,” says the Candlestick maker. “I’m blind! I can’t see what the others can see, and I won’t be able to hear their answers, since everyone is whispering now. How can this be fair to me?”

    The King ponders a moment, and then says, “Okay, I’ll make it so that you all — even you who are blind, Candlestick maker — the exact same chance of correctly telling what color feather he’s wearing. Fair enough?”

    “Fair enough,” says the Candlestick maker.

    All the hats are arranged on everyone’s heads. The King starts by turning to the Butcher…

    “I know what color feather I’m wearing,” announces the Candlestick maker.

    What does he whisper to the King?)