Problem: The Gardener And The Cook

A correspondent, signing himself "Simple Simon," suggested that I should give a special catch puzzle in the issue of The Weekly Dispatch for All Fools' Day, 1900. So I gave the following, and 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.


"The illustration is a fancy sketch of my correspondent, 'Simple Simon,' in the act of trying to solve the following innocent little arithmetical puzzle. 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 I 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."

Solutions: 1

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Project Gutenberg

  1. Dudeney, H. E.: "Amusements in Mathematics", The Authors' Club, 1917

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