Fair Maiden Rowena and Three Boxes

Dec 04, 1999

RAY: Ha! We're back. You're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and we're to discuss cars, car repair and, uh, the new Puzzler.

TOM: I can hardly wait.

RAY: This comes from the days of knights and kings and fair maidens and...

TOM: And people named Rowena.

RAY: Rowena. There you go. Turns out that the fair maiden Rowena wishes to wed.

TOM: Aha!

RAY: And her father, the evil king, has devised a way to drive...

TOM: Raymond. Evil King Raymond.

RAY: Raymond. To drive off suitors.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And he has a little quiz for them, and here it is.

TOM: And the White Knight Tommy.

RAY: More like green.

TOM: Can we work him in? OK. He has a quiz for the suitors. Yeah.

RAY: He has a quiz for the suitors, and here it is. It's very simple. There are three boxes on the table, OK? One is made of gold.

TOM: Mmm.

RAY: One is made of silver. And the third is made of...

TOM: Tofu.

RAY: Lead.

TOM: Lead.

RAY: Lead, OK?

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Inside one of these boxes is a picture of the fair Rowena.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And it is the job of the knight, the white knight, to figure out which--without opening them, of course...

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Which one has her picture. Now, to assist him in this endeavor there are inscriptions on each of the boxes.

TOM: Oh, this is interesting already.

RAY: You've got to pay attention, now.

TOM: Yeah. I'm going to write this down.

RAY: You've got to write this down. Get a pencil and write this down. The gold box says...

TOM: Gold says, mmm-hmm.

RAY: "Rowena's picture is in this box."

TOM: In here. OK. Yeah.

RAY: The silver box says...

TOM: Mmm-hmm.

RAY: "The picture ain't in this box."

TOM: No, it's not.


TOM: Yeah.

RAY: The lead box says, "The picture ain't in the gold box."

TOM: Oh, I got the question already.

RAY: You do?

TOM: Yeah. Where's the picture?

RAY: Because if he just opens the box with the picture, he gets the girl.

TOM: Yeah. But he also gives him a hint, right? He's going to give him a hint.

RAY: Yes.

TOM: He's going to say, "All the labels are wrong."

RAY: No. The hint is, one of the statements, and only one, is true.

TOM: Excellent!

RAY: The question is: Where's the picture?


RAY: You got it? One is correct, and the other two are incorrect.

TOM: Mmm-hmm. Yeah.

RAY: And, if you look at one and three, they're contradictory.

TOM: Yes. What does that mean?

RAY: Well, they say the opposite.

TOM: I know that, but what does it mean in terms of the truth in fullness?

RAY: Well, it means that one of them must be true. One of those two statements must be true.

TOM: Yeah. Because if they...they say the opposite...

RAY: Well, all right. Then let's go...

TOM: Now, that's good. I like it.

RAY: Let's assume...

TOM: Wait. I like this, because if one of them is true, the gold box can't be true. The inscription on the gold box cannot be true, because if it is, then the inscription on the silver box must also be true.

RAY: And that can't happen.

TOM: And that can't happen.

RAY: So, the statement...

TOM: So, the statement on the third box, the lead box, is the only one that can be true. I love it!

RAY: The statement on the third box is the only one that can be true. The first one must be false, and the second box, which says, "Rowena's picture is not in this box," that is also false, which means that her picture is -

TOM: Is in that box!

RAY: In the silver box.

TOM: I love it. I love it.

RAY: So, it means the picture must be in the silver box.

TOM: You know, you tell me that geometry is better than this at teaching people how to think.

RAY: It's easier to explain.

TOM: Maybe it is.

RAY: That's why they teach it.

TOM: I think...I think all of grammar school and high school should be Puzzlers. Have nothing to do with algebra. I mean, trigonometry, the area under a curve--who cares! This is thinking, man. I still don't get it.

RAY: Well, there is someone who did get it.

TOM: And who's that?

RAY: I don't know. Who's our winner?

TOM: Well, the winner is Greg Frye from Scottsdale, Arizona.

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