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The Gardener and the Cook (Posted on 2006-03-01) Difficulty: 3 of 5
The following special catch puzzle appeared in the issue of The Weekly Dispatch for All Fools' Day, 1900. It caused considerable amusement; for out of a very large body of competitors, many quite expert, not a single person solved it, though it ran for nearly a month.

" A race between a man and a woman that I happened to witness one All Fools' Day has fixed itself indelibly on my memory. It happened at a country-house, where the gardener and the cook decided to run a race to a point 100 feet straight away and return. I found that the gardener ran 3 feet at every bound and the cook only 2 feet, but then she made three bounds to his two. Now, what was the result of the race?"

A fortnight after publication the editor added the following note: "It has been suggested that perhaps there is a catch in the 'return,' but there is not. The race is to a point 100 feet away and home again—that is, a distance of 200 feet. One correspondent asks whether they take exactly the same time in turning, to which I reply that they do. Another seems to suspect that it is really a conundrum, and that the answer is that 'the result of the race was a (matrimonial) tie.' But I had no such intention. The puzzle is an arithmetical one, as it purports to be."

See The Solution Submitted by goFish    
Rating: 3.6250 (8 votes)

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Question goFish | Comment 7 of 29 |

Hmm...I mentioned the possibility of the gardener being the woman in my earlier post, to which goFish replied "Nope - Read the problem carefully.  Not just the quote."  I wonder if maybe he/she just missed that part, or if in fact the solution has nothing to do with their genders.

The question states that it is an arithmetical puzzle, but then again it is listed under "Tricks".  Is it possible that "who won the race?" is not even the question we're supposed to be answering?

  Posted by tomarken on 2006-03-01 15:42:33
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