Einstein Letters
Home Up Albert Einstein

Einstein Puzzle Letters to the Editor -
Read at your own Risk!

Important Note from Rick Archer:  I strongly suggest you solve the Einstein Puzzle before reading this page.  Get your answer first, then come back and visit.

Otherwise I am fairly certain that the "Einstein Puzzle" experience will be diminished  because we talk about the clues.  If you have a good time solving the puzzle, come back and check out what other people have had to say about this famous Internet logic puzzle.  There are some very interesting letters on this page!

Rick Archer, January 2007

The Infamous
Einstein Puzzle

Biography of
Albert Einstein

Welcome to the SSQQ Dance Studio version of the infamous "Einstein Puzzle"! 

Einstein Puzzle is a logic riddle that consists of 15 clues.  It is likely this puzzle has been emailed around the world many many times.

So what does the largest dance studio in America have to do with Einstein and this Logic Puzzle?   Not much really.  I run a dance studio in Houston, Texas.  Logic Puzzles are one of my hobbies.  Back in 1998 when the SSQQ web site first went on line, I published the Einstein Puzzle for my dance students to solve.  I had so much fun that a couple years later I started publishing a different Logic Puzzle each month on my web site.  In other words, the Einstein Puzzle got my Logic Puzzle Club started.

Over the years many people have shared comments about the Einstein Puzzle.  Quite a few  letters are interesting so I will share them with you.

Rick Archer
SSQQ Dance Studio
Last update:
January 2007

Origins of the Einstein Puzzle on the SSQQ Web Site

STEP ONE   This is how it all started.  Back in 1998, my friend Donna Ruth emailed the Einstein Puzzle to me.  As someone who enjoys  Logic Puzzle, I gave it a try.  Then, after I solved it, I wrote this article in my dance studio newsletter.

January, 1999: Einstein's Puzzle : Donna submits a Brain Teaser !  

Donna Ruth (pictured at right from one of our Sock Hop Parties) is our well-known Jitterbug instructor.  Recently Donna sent me a brain teaser that claims to have been created by none other than Dr. Albert Einstein himself.

And the email carried the assertion that Albert believed that 98% of all humanity didn't have the smarts to lick this problem.  Well, that kind of challenge got my blood boiling!  A puzzle that proves I am smarter than the next guy was right up my alley.  

Little did I know how tricky it was.  I have to say solving the puzzle wasn't easy, but
five hours later and about half a dead tree in paper, yes, I got the correct answer.

Humbled that I had to work harder than expected, but grateful I had managed to stumble into the elite 2%, I must say the logic test was a worthy one.   If you desire to see if you belong in the upper 2% of the world's brain jocks, then
go for it!

As you can see from the story above that I wrote for my Newsletter, I was immediately hooked!
 Desperate to see myself as brighter than 98% of the human race, at the time I put aside everything and began to hammer out the puzzle. Five hours later I came up with an answer I was happy with.  

While I was working on the puzzle, at various times I meditated on t
he note that said Albert Einstein himself wrote this quiz.   I wrestled with incredulity over the claim that Dr. E = MC Squared himself had written it.  Mind you, this was back in the days when the Internet was still new and none of us were used to the Urban Legend-type nonsense that became increasingly common on the Internet soon after I first received the Einstein Puzzle.

In other words, this was back in the day when people like me were still gullible enough to believe stuff like this.  However the Einstein assertion brought up flags right from the start. I wanted to believe, but my built-in bullshit detector was sending up one alarm message after another.  Despite my misgivings, I was also intrigued.  Maybe it was true!   Then it dawned on me w
hether Sir Albert really wrote it or not didn't really matter if you enjoy logic puzzles.  

Why not just solve it and worry about the mythology later?

So I suspended my skepticism for the moment and decided in the spirit of things to pretend it was all true.  Sort of like Santa Claus, along the way I discovered it was definitely more fun to believe The Genius himself had put together this clever quiz.

My next issue was the assertion that Albert Einstein believed that 98% of the world could not figure it out.  I wondered if this assertion was really possible.  However I decided that first I had to try to solve the puzzle before I could form an opinion.  I will say is that "The 2% Challenge" definitely made me want to solve it!!  My interest-level was instantly ratcheted way up.

After I was finished,
I decided the puzzle was difficult, but I also felt it was fair and interesting.
Although it took me an afternoon (5 hours), I did manage to solve it on my first try.  It was tricky enough to make me continue to wonder about the Two Percent Challenge.

After I finished, I emailed Donna to ask who had sent it to her.  Donna said
it been emailed to her by someone else about two weeks earlier. She had forwarded it to me because she knew I liked puzzles, but she had already deleted the original and couldn't remember who sent it.  

So the trail got cold pretty fast.  Oh well.

Interested in learning more 
about Albert Einstein?
Click Here

STEP TWO  About three months after I personally solved the puzzle, I published it on the SSQQ Web Site in January 1999 as a challenge for my dance students.  We have some smart people who hang around this place and I wanted to see how well they would do.  However to my disappointment, not very many people tried it.  Maybe a half dozen SSQQ dance students took a crack at it, but that was it. After a couple months, I no longer received any replies from someone at SSQQ.
So I forgot about the puzzle and moved on to other amusements.

STEP THREE   A few months after I first posted the Einstein Puzzle on my website, a curious thing began to happen.  I started getting requests for validation from Canada, Germany, England, and Brazil.  One lady emailed from Trinidad and Tobago out in the Caribbean while another lady emailed me from an island called Arru, part of Indonesia. Then I got one from Kazakhstan in the middle of Asia. In addition I got several emails from different states around the USA.

I was very curious how these people had come across my web site so I wrote one of the people back. This is how I discovered people from far-off lands were landing on the SSQQ web site by typing “Einstein" into Google and other search engines.  These people had been looking for information about Sir Albert, but found my site by mistake. However several of them found the puzzle irresistible and set to work.

Believe it or not, back in 1999, I had never even heard of Google.  I was so new to the Internet, I hadn't even heard of a search engine yet.  Google?  What's that?  In fact, this 1999 incident is how I first learned about search engines.  It was very interesting to me to find my Einstein Puzzle page had become an international destination.  It was so amazing that someone from the middle of Asia could somehow be linked to me through the miracle of the Internet!

Pretty soon however people were no longer visiting our web site by accident. The 1999/2000 visitors helped establish SSQQ Dance Studio of all places as the major Internet destination point for the "Einstein Puzzle". 

As the legend of the Einstein Puzzle itself grew, Google et al sent people to this web site as the place to learn more about it.  Because I was early to the Internet and posted the puzzle before other sites, the Google phenomenon assured my site would stay at the top of the list.  In other words, because my web page was there first, Google made sure it stayed there. 

As of 2008, the SSQQ version of the Einstein Puzzle continues to remain in its familiar position on page one of Google.

 STEP FOUR  The SSQQ Einstein web page becomes very popular (15-20 Requests a Month for the Answer!)

Over the years many
people have emailed me to let me confirm their answer. This doesn't surprise me because there is always a powerful urge to have your work validated. 

As of 2005, I suppose I have received at least a thousand emails over.  In 2005,
I averaged about 15 different emails a month requesting the answer.  (This average went to 35 in 2007).  Don't believe me?  Take a look for yourself.

How Rick Archer Became The International Poster Boy for Slowness

Earlier in this story I highlighted this sentence:

Although it took me an afternoon (5 hours), I managed to solve it on my first try."

From what I gather, the average time to solve the Einstein Puzzle is about an hour.  Most people who write me just want their answers confirmed, but about 25% of my responders list their time as well. Interestingly, not one person has ever listed a time SLOWER than mine.

My guess is that quite a few people who solve the puzzle also take a peek at the "Einstein Letters". Once they discover I took
an entire afternoon to solve it, they realize they beat my time with ease. They gleefully put in their own time to show off a little.  Aren't I lucky?

Here are a couple examples from December 2005:

-----Original Message-----
From: Kevin M
Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2005 9:30 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein puzzle

Uhh ok, I came up with the answer of the blah blah dude owns the fish, he drinks blah blah, smokes blah blah, and lives in a blah blah colored house.

Took me 20 minutes.

Can you please confirm my success, or the "unthinkable alternative??"

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott H
Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2005 5:12 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein

The blah blah owns the Fish.  Took me 5 Minutes!   :-)  

So here's a smart kid who solved it in 5 minutes. He took one look at my five hours and probably laughed his butt off. 

It's my own fault for leaving the time published.  Thousands of correct solutions from all over the world and I am the slowest. 

With a time of five hours, it is no surprise that I get teased.  I suppose I should regret telling people it took me an afternoon to solve it, but to be honest it doesn't bother me (well, maybe a little as you will see when we meet Debborah). 

I have made good grades throughout my life.  For example I went to college at Johns Hopkins University on a full academic scholarship.  I graduated cum laude.  In other words, until the Einstein Puzzle came along to expose me as an international moron, I considered myself smart enough. 

So why do I open myself up to the teasing?  Why don't I simply remove the time and be done with it?

After all, I could remove any mention of my time and restore my reputation.  The truth is I originally mentioned my time as a way to encourage people to give it a try.  I admit I never anticipated I would get so much indirect teasing about my time.  Oh well.

I think I should say a couple words in my own defense.  For starters, I was certainly in no hurry.

I counted my time from the moment I started drawing truth tables. I spent several hours designing the tables because I was going to visit my father who was in the hospital.  I was going to use the puzzle as something to do with him because he loved puzzles. 

Another reason I was slow was that I was learning to use my new computer.  I had some software known as 'Publisher' and made creating charts an exercise to learn more about the program.  I have included all that time in my total.

Nor did I create just one chart.  I created several puzzle charts to take along with me when I visited the hospital that day. I was not experienced at doing logic puzzles back in 1998, so I burned a lot of time simply creating extra charts in case I would need them later at the hospital.  In other words, I made extra charts that were unnecessary just to be on the safe side because once I was there I wouldn't be able to make new ones.  Plus if we made a mistake and had to start over, I would need extra copies.

In other words, I was more interested in playing with my computer to show off to my father than actually solving the Einstein Puzzle.

So I wasted an afternoon.  Did I also mention I was preoccupied with deeper problems?  My father was very sick.

It turned out that all the work was something of a waste of time.  At the hospital later that afternoon, my stepmother took one look at the puzzle and informed me my father was in no shape to give it a try.  My father gave me weak little wave of his hand from his bed.  At that point my stepmother promptly escorted me out of the room, thereby leaving me with my final memory of him.

Later that day I did the puzzle by myself.  It was kind of an empty gesture at this point.  Obviously my sense of sorrow did not contribute to a quick time.  My father died a week later. The puzzle instantly became connected in my mind with his memory.


However, I believe the major
reason for my "slowness" had to do with my innate sense of caution.  I wanted to get it right on the first try.  I hit a big obstacle at Clue #4:  "The green house is to the left of the white house."  Whether this clue was deliberately vague or not, I don't know, but this highly ambiguous clue paralyzed me.

Was the green house on the left as I looked at it from across the street or was it on the left looking from the same side of the street?  Also the clue could be interpreted to mean either the two houses were next to one another or perhaps they were separated by one or more houses.  The conservative approach would be to assume there was a possibility that the houses did not necessarily abut one another. The aggressive approach would be to assume this clue meant the houses were side by side.

As I studied people's answers, I discovered it was likely a person's approach to this clue that determined their time.  The aggressive ones got lucky because it turns out the two houses are indeed side by side.  As you might guess, I was one of the ones who took the conservative approach.  (Read more about this important clue)

The puzzle takes much longer to solve when you take the slower fork in the road.

And one more thing - Had I ever imagined my poor progress would become a standard by which countless humans across the globe would judge their own intelligence, I am fairly sure I would have pushed myself a little harder.

Instead through my own admission, I became an international poster boy for "slow, but steady".  Let's hear it for the tortoise!

At this point I just smile my ironic little smile. 


A Look at some of the Einstein Letters Sent to Rick Archer

Over the past eight going on nine years, most of the letters sent to me are about as interesting as this one: 

"Is it the blah blah the one who owns the fish?   Katie and Bryan"

However, sometimes I run into some interesting stories. There is just something about the Einstein Puzzle that elicits curious responses from people.  I guess after working so hard on the puzzle, people like to share their experience with me plus add their thoughts on the mythology surrounding the puzzle.

Einstein Letter One - Leslie Bilewitz, a most peculiar gentleman... uh, lady.
May 1999

Without a doubt, the goofiest set letters I ever encountered were from Leslie.  And they were right at the start.

Not long after I posted the Einstein Puzzle on the web site,
I had a very interesting email from Leslie Bilewitz who needed the answer right away.

Email One:
t is urgent that I know the answer immediately as I have other people asking me for the correct answer!  Leslie Bilewitz"

However just as I was about to email my reply, into my inbox popped another letter from Ms B.

Email Two:
"I already received my reply from Rich Monosson so no need to respond.......thank you !!    Leslie B........:) :) "

Surprised she had gotten her answer elsewhere, I responded with this smiling reply: 

"Leslie,  I can’t believe you trusted someone else to give you the correct answer.  Shockingly, yes, he was right! 

And so were you! 

Does this other gentleman (Rich Monosson) have the same puzzle on his web site or is he simply familiar with the puzzle?

Apparently Leslie didn’t realize I was teasing. I received this scathing reply:

Email Three:

I was surprised to see such a negative reaction!  Let's try the 'turn the other cheek' approach.  I sent Leslie another letter. 

Bless your heart, Leslie, don’t worry about it. This puzzle has no copyright that I know of and it is definitely not mine!  

I worked it just like you did – someone emailed it to me and I was fascinated. The moment I was done I couldn’t wait for someone to tell me my answer was right. 

I added it to my web site because it was interesting. I expected only my students at the dance studio to work it, but somehow my web site got into international distribution as a place to go for the Einstein puzzle. Beats me how it happened!!  I get emails from Singapore, England, Canada, Trinidad, etc, as well as different USA cities. 99% of them require a one-sentence reply along the lines of “Yes, that is correct, blah blah blah owns the fish, nice work!”

Yours is one of the rare exceptions that actually allowed me to communicate with someone due to the odd “dual” reply. Mr. Monosson did absolutely nothing wrong. He was just trying to be helpful as was I.

I received this reply: 

Email Four:
I was just puzzled as I would also hate to think that someone else had your puzzle and was not supposed to so this is why I wanted to know from HIM if he is plagiarizing or not.    If this riddle was for your site only (was going to use a pun and say FOR YOUR EYES ONLY but decided against it).   Have a good day..........and thanks man......Leslie B.

I will write and tell my wife and her friends that they have nothing to worry about.

I wrote back: 

Leslie, Don’t be angry. I was teasing. I get ten requests a month for the answer, but I have never had someone write me back to tell me someone else had already answered it. It was just odd; no big deal.

An hour later: 

Email Five:
Good Day Rick..................I was given the two addresses by the friend who actually sent me the riddle in the first place.   She found it on the web somehow whilst searching for the actual answer and it turned up your address and the Einstein one. She sent this to me so that should I work it out (as she knows I love these challenges) I could click on an address and check it out. I just clicked on both in the hopes of getting at least one response after all of my hard work!!  Ha Ha !!......... I will forward her actual email to you so that you can see for yourself what transpired.  Leslie B............:) :) 

I sent a reply which I expected to be the end of it.

Yours is one of the rare exceptions that actually allowed me to communicate with someone due to the odd “dual” reply. Mr. Monosson did absolutely nothing wrong. He was just trying to be helpful as was I.

To my surprise, I got a long letter back.

Email Six:

Dear Rick. Thanks for your nice letter and I appreciate your sincere reply. I was also fascinated by this riddle /especially as Albert Einstein is one of my heroes. I even keep a framed picture of him on my desk.........yes.......strange but true !! Ha ha !! I must confess to you that
I am not male but female and added the bit at the end about my ......(cough cough)........wife just in case you were a looney cyberspace pervert but I feel much 'safer' now that you wrote back to me.

I forwarded this riddle onto my address book pals and they are nagging me to death for the answer too even though they have had it less than 24 hours: so I can see how you have become the contact person of choice. I will heed this however and choose NOT to launch on my own website.......the world now has two contacts and that is enough. I will just attend to my own address book persons. I told them that I will, as did you...........CONFIRM if they are correct but will not tell them the answer as will spoil the game. Beside, it does not hurt them to have to use their brains instead of taking the lazy way out, now does it?

I apologise for my taking your letter in a way other than the way you presented and intended for it to be received. I felt reprimanded rather than your being witty. I am sorry I did not 'see' your reply that way.  

Take care and God bless.....................Leslie B...............:) :)"

This was the letter where I found out that Leslie is a woman, not a man.  What a revelation! 

In Email Four she was going to tell her wife about me. 
 Leslie had apparently decided I was not a pervert after all. 

Now that she decided I was her buddy, a day later after Email Six, Leslie sent me some Internet nonsense about the government charging for Internet use. This fraud had been around for three years. (I even have a debunking mention about on my web site from a year ago: Email Surcharge)  After I responded to tell Leslie this was a hoax, she sent me three more emails!  One said she was from England of all places.

Email Seven:
"P.S...........Just in case you think I may have a strange spell check system.........I am from Great Britain so my spelling is from the Queen’s English.    I would hate for you to think I may need to visit a web site which would help me to learn to spell correctly/especially as I am an English Language Major !!

You see,  I too can be a jester...........PEACE............

To make a long enough story a bit less long, I wrote Leslie another letter about England and received a four-page reply (I decided to spare my readers the details; it is a bit of a rant. I promise you are not missing anything prurient or salacious. 

In her long email, Leslie
told me all about her life in Oxfordshire.  However I couldn’t figure out why the times on her emails were so similar to American time, so I replied: 

I am a little confused about something. I received your “top o’ the morning” reply at 10:52 am. This must be “10:52 am my time”. Surely as I write in my morning it must be your evening, correct? 

To my surprise, now I found out that Leslie lived in Erie, Pennsylvania… 

I now live in Pennsylvania (moved here 10 years ago) as Erie is the centre of the plastics industry and in the words of the dear uncle in The Graduate................."Plastics my boy........plastics". 

Somehow I thought the discovery that she lived in eerie, Pennsylvania, was oddly fitting for this unusual woman.  Once Leslie was caught in a second fib, she stopped writing. 

You never know who you might meet on the Internet.  What an odd set of communications. 

But wait, there's more!!  Leslie decided to check back five years later.

Email Eight:
From: Leslie Bilewitz
Sent: Friday, July 02, 2004 3:27 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein Letters.

Good Day Rick:

Well, I hardly know where to begin. I e-mailed you several years ago regarding this puzzle and had no idea that
our letters were still on your site for all the world to see.

I was just alerted to this today.

I wish to clarify that I am neither a nut nor a liar; and as was explained to you at the time,
it was decided I take on the appearance of a married male, just in case you were the nut.

We also invented a persona, as you can tell by the previous 'odd' e-mails back and forth.

A female friend sent me this puzzle initially and
we wanted to protect ourselves from an unknown.

As you know, I had another person contact me with regard to the puzzle answer and I was not aware that you were teasing, so consequently
we became alarmed that you were indeed a person of whom I could be frightened.

Obviously my fear was unfounded and you proved to be a legitimate business owner.

There are many unsavoury people 'out there' as history has proven, however I am not one of them.

I didn't realise that I 'disappeared' either until I read your letters today.

I hope this e-mail clears up any misconception you have of me and our previous interaction.

I would appreciate the clarification to the world too, if you please.

I am not a nut, a liar or remotely certifiable and regret the impression I may have given.

Thank you for understanding.
Sincere Regards,


Well, there you have it. Leslie would like the world to know she is not a nut.  Fair enough. 

And it is good to know her opinion of me was upgraded from '
looney cyberspace pervert' to 'legitimate business owner."  (Little did she know...)

And I imagine she probably was originally from England.  She used the British spelling for so many words that I imagine she grew up in England. 

But as for her frequent use of the word 'we', that raises one of my bushy eyebrows. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find her 'friend' turned out to be another personality.

That would be wonderful because I have several personalities of my own just waiting to meet some of hers.

(just kidding, Leslie)

Einstein Letter Two - Karin McGuiness: Our Planet Grows Smaller All the Time
June 1998

In June 1998 I received an interesting email from Karin McGuinness:

Email One:
"Hi Rick, I found your Einstein puzzle page on the net and hope you can confirm my answer (my sister-in-law agrees with it too). Is the fish owner the blah blah blah in the blah blah colored house who drinks blah blah and smokes blah blah? Could you also confirm where you got your “official” answer from?   Thanks muchly, Karin"

Well, this one tickled me. After 500 responses over two years, I got one asking me to back up my work!

Karin, You have made me chuckle. Yes, the Blah Blah owns the Fish. At least that’s what I believe. However after perhaps 500 people asking to confirm the answer over the last couple years, you are the first to speculate on where I got my answer. I am not at all angry, just tickled.

I would only venture to say that I solved the puzzle myself using the best logic I could muster and the blah blah was the answer I came up with. Since then of the 500 or so people who sent in answers, 95% of all the answers agreed with mine. Only a couple of people have arrived at a different answer than my original one.

I gently told them I thought their answer was wrong and they never argued with me. Frequently they tried again and came up with my original conclusion.

So I believe my guess of blah blah is the correct answer, but in this world of uncertainty, you may have to trust your own instincts!

I might add I too doubt everything. One thing I doubt is that Einstein took the time to write this puzzle. But you never know!  Maybe he did. 

Rick Archer 

Karin replied a day later.

Email Two:
Dear Rick,

Thanks for you quick reply - it’s satisfying to know that I have the “right” answer. If I hear of another “right” answer from another reputable source, I will let you know. 

And I agree, I have my doubts about Einstein writing it - although I think he did have the sense of fun to enjoy it!  

Thanks again, Karin"

Karin seemed like a levelheaded lady, so I responded with this note: 

Karin, Thank you for your nice note.  I will be writing a story about the puzzle for my next newsletter. Would you mind telling me where you are from? 

Nothing sneaky on my part - I am showing my friends that people from all over the world have taken the time to solve the puzzle. Rick Archer

 Karin quickly replied: 

Email Three:
"Hi Rick, 
I’m from just outside Sydney, Australia. I received the puzzle through an email from my partner, who I believe received it from a work colleague in South Africa. Apart from passing it onto other Australian based friends, we have also sent it on to friends in Hungary.

If it’s not too much trouble, I wouldn’t mind seeing a copy of your newsletter when you are done. Can you email it too me, or is there a web address that you will post it too?

BTW - I’m a very curious person so I have to ask - what kind of a dance studio do you have?
Regards, Karin"

So I told Karin about what we teach here at the dance studio and I added her to the SSQQ Newsletter list.  I am sure she will sign up for classes any day now and fly to Houston from Sydney.    It fascinates me about all the people you can meet on the Internet!! 

I am convinced the Internet is the most amazing invention of my lifetime.

Einstein Letter Three - Debborah's Indelicate Insult
February 2004

In the years since I originally posted the Einstein Puzzle on the Internet, thousands of people have visited this page at the SSQQ Web Site.   This kind of interest has helped vault the SSQQ version of the Einstein Puzzle to the top of search engines. At this point Google lists my page among the Top Ten most visited sites on the Internet for this particular puzzle. 

I am proud of this honor!  Even though I have yet to make a dime from my endeavor or appear on Oprah, I take satisfaction in a job well done.  Not bad for so such a slow boy.

As I mentioned earlier when I explained how I became the 'International Poster Boy for Slow but Steady', a lot of people enjoy listing their times as well.  Here is a good example from a college professor named Don Thomas:

Thu 02/28/2002 6:04 AM
"It took me about 1 hour and 45 minutes to figure it out by drawing 5 house pictures. My son who is 15 figured it out in 10 minutes (ugh) and my 24 year old daughter figured it out 1 hour and 30 minutes. (Do younger minds see it more clearly and quickly because they have less mental bad habits and/or less clutter in their minds?! hmmm...)

I changed the names of the cigarettes to different chewing gums and plan to give the puzzle to my gifted and talented students to see how long they take. Thanks for publishing the puzzle!  DMT"

This email above came to me a couple years before I discovered how Clue 4 regarding the Green House changed the solving time so dramatically.  My guess is the frustrated father took the conservative route while his son never even guessed there was a more complex possibility to Clue #4.  By taking the shorter route in the fork in the road, the son dusted his college professor father's time by an hour and a half!  Never was the time difference between the conservative approach and the aggressive approach more obvious! (review the Green House Approach dilemma)

People love to tell me how fast it took them to solve the puzzle.  As I said before, when I first published the Einstein Puzzle, my original write-up mentioned that it took me an entire afternoon to solve it.   I had said this to put people at ease who don't solve it right away as a form of encouragement.  Instead, I watched as my admission seemed to backfire on me. Oh well.

And as I said, I spent most of the afternoon putting together graphs and charts to take to my father who was sick in the hospital.  I never really intended to solve it for speed, but my little throw-away statement often caught the eye of many readers.  Not that I can blame them.  Without any explanation, five hours is pretty hard to believe. 


Normally I could care less if someone solved it in twenty minutes, but one day I got an email that caused me to frown.  Read it yourself and see what you think.

 By the way, the misspellings and syntax errors are not my doing. This email is reprinted accurately. 

And, by the way, all the words in RED are misspellings. 

Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 10:03 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com

"Someone sent me the einstien puzzle etc etc. Solved in 20 minutes, speed for me was more important as loving logic puzzles as a child, the challenge to me seemed more about that.  No answer was given, I emailed the person back the answer, but impatience overcame me, I asked "askjeeves". What occurred was links to some wonderful sights with some added puzzles, a forum where people picked apart analized and even got into theology regarding the quiz, etc etc.

Finally checked your
sight, read the amusing letters and found your humour and responce entertaining. I think that fact that it took you several hours (persaverance, patience) and asuming you got the correct answer doesn't count you as intelligent.  Your response and enjoyment to the subsequent emails and the way you have shared them showed me a witism which shone amongst the rest. Now thats the right effort!  Thanks for a good laugh.


Okay, I admit it.  Debborah's letter got under my skin. 

After mentioning it took me several hours to solve the puzzle, please notice that 'Ms. B One and B Two' Debborah said she managed to solve it in 20 minutes.  Yes, I got the point.

Then she made a point to say the length of time I took solving the puzzle doesn't count me as 'intelligent'.  

I think that fact that it took you several hours and asuming you got the correct answer doesn't count you as intelligent." 

First Debborah illustrated clearly how slow I was compared to her.  Then for good measure, Debborah added she wasn't even sure I got the right answer.  Not only am I slow & perverted, now I am stupid too.

Did you know I won my seventh grade school spelling bee?  Yet here is a woman who can't even spell her own name right implying that I am stupid.  I may be stupid, but sadly I am just barely conscious enough to recognize an insult.  Don't you hate it when you are smart enough to know you are actually really very stupid? 

Wouldn't it be better to be so stupid you don't even know you are stupid?

I may be slow at logic and not intelligent in her opinion, but at least I can spell better than she can.  (Or maybe I should admit I got a friend to turn on the spell check function)

Not only is Debborah a bit challenged when it comes to spelling her own name, I spotted ten misspelled words including the sacred word "einstien".  And she doesn't know the difference between "web site" and "web sight".   This woman sounded like someone out of a "Fish Called Wanda".... '
he thought that the Gettysburg Address was where Lincoln lived.'

Over the years since, Debborah's peculiar letter evoked several responses.  The most interesting response occurred in early 2006. A woman named Lisa from my own dance studio - someone I never actually met - wrote in to suggest maybe I had taken offense at Debborah's words when none was intended. 

In other words, Lisa suggested I overreacted. Here is what Lisa had to say:

-----Original Message-----
From: Lisa
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 12:40 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Rick - about Einstein puzzle emails


I'm a sometimes-student of your studio (have taken Salsa and Whip classes) and enjoy checking out your website occasionally. You have so much stuff on there it could take a person a lifetime to read it all.

I just wanted to make one comment on one of the emails you posted under the Einstein Puzzle part of the site, the one by Debborah. I don't know this person, but I just noticed that you seemed a bit miffed by her response, and wanted to ask you this:

1. How do you know she doesn't spell her name with two B's because that's the way her parents named her? Your quote: "Not only is Debborah a bit challenged when it comes to spelling her own name... "

2. You seemed upset at her response about your intelligence. I think you misread what she was trying to say. I believe that she was saying that just solving the puzzle did not prove your intelligence (in response to your comment that you were now intelligent because you solved it, because you didn't even know if you had the correct answer or not, and so technically that does not automatically make you intelligent. I believe she was saying that by your responses and witty repertoire, you proved your intelligence.

I'm only saying this because your response on the website comes off as a bit pissy. However, I did think your response to Leslie's emails was humorous and she did seem to take it the wrong way.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 10:37 AM
To: Lisa
Subject: RE: Rick - about Einstein puzzle emails and letters

Lisa, out of respect for your letter, I took another look.  

On the "Two Bs" issue, I doubt you are correct that Debborah's parents saddled her with two Bs. A more likely explanation is that she added the extra "B" at some point in pursuit of individuality. I also think Debborah would be flattered to know that two people who have never met her are busy discussing the extra 'B' in her name. However it is all conjecture and not terribly important in the cosmic scheme of things.

As for my being upset at her response about my intelligence, let's review what Ms. Two B or Not Two B Debborah actually said:

"I think that fact that it took you several hours (persaverance, patience) and asuming you got the correct answer doesn't count you as intelligent."

My first conclusion is that Debborah's statement as it is written stands as a pure insult.

However if you wish to give the woman the benefit of the doubt, I grant you may be correct that she was actually trying to compliment me. There are some odd allusions to my '
witism' and 'persaverance' that could be construed as some sort of botched attempt at a compliment.  And I suppose her statement "Now that's the right effort!" does have an element of praise if I am desperate enough to reach for her pearls.

The truth is she misspelled "einstien", "witism", "sights", "analized", "responce", "asuming". I didn't make those up by the way; it probably wouldn't hurt to turn on her spellcheck function. 

Based on her writing skill, my
hunch is she is a combination of Logic-genius and English-impaired.  If you look at the context of the statements around the offensive sentence, an argument can be made that she gave me a Yogi Berra-style compliment along the lines of "“We’re not exactly hitting the ball off the cover” or “He’s a big clog in their machine.”

It isn't easy to forgive someone who has indicated you are not intelligent, but based on her stated love for speed, I suppose there is a good chance she didn't bother to proofread her letter. If she had taken the time to do so, she might have realized what she had written insinuated I was a moron when she was actually trying to compliment me.  

Thanks for your input.  I am sure that Debborah appreciates your kind defense of her intentions.  ;-) 

Hopefully my response to your letter will allow an entire planet of readers to forgive me for being pissy.

Other emails that discussed Debborah's response were a bit more succinct.  Here is my favorite letter:

-----Original Message-----
From: Olga Koshelkova
Sent: Sunday, July 16, 2006 5:54 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein's Puzzle

Does the (blank) own the fish?

PS If I'm right, then this is way too easy to only be solved by the world's smartest 2%.

PPS Debborah is crazy.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, July 17, 2006 10:33 AM
To: Olga Koshelkova
Subject: RE: Einstein's Puzzle

Yes, your answer is correct; yes, the 2% idea is preposterous; and yes, debborah is crazy.  Did I tell you I love you for saying that?  ;-)

Right three times in a row!  Thanks for the chuckle and nice work! 

Oops, oh well, there I go being pissy again. Let's add 'em up and see where we stand.  I guess that makes me a slow, stupid, pissy pervert and loony cyberspace nut. 

So much for my planetary reputation.  It just keeps getting worse, doesn't it?


The Einstein Mythology

An issue that comes up frequently are queries about the Mythology surrounding the Einstein Puzzle.

Mythology One is the idea that Albert Einstein himself created the puzzle in an idle moment.

Now let's be candid.  First of all, I have never believed for an instant that Einstein was involved.  I think someone made that up as a hook to catch people's interest and guess what - it worked!  

And let me say that I have not received one email that defended the remote possibility that Dr. Einstein actually wrote this puzzle.  A lot of people hope that he was involved, but no one offers any proof.

Mythology Two is far more controversial.  The puzzle suggests that only 2% of the human race is smart enough to solve the puzzle.

I admit this statement has always intrigued me.  I am not alone - many puzzle solvers not only ask me to confirm their answer, they like to challenge the allegation that only 2% of the world's population can solve this puzzle.

Like the readers I have also been curious about the 2% claim - it sucked me in immediately and probably a lot of other people too!

Here are three excellent examples:

Email One (2003):

-----Original Message-----
From: David Gordon
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2003 7:42 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
]Subject: Einstein

Hi - I came across this puzzle in an email somebody had sent me and forgotten. It took me about an hour (my lunch hour) to solve the problem - using a table and two post-it notes. It was very interesting and wouldn't let me go. I then used Google to track down your website (keyword "Einstein's puzzle") to corroborate my finding. The assumption I made was that the houses were in a row and that the first house was on the left. I thought like a European and didn't think about counting from right to left as a person from the Middle East or Israel would.

I certainly don't consider myself an Einstein or very gifted - If I can do this then certainly more than 2% of the population can solve this.

I'd say that anybody with a logical mind and enjoys deduction could solve this - and I feel that that is certainly more than 2% of the worlds population.

Cheers, David Gordon

My Reply:
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2003 9:11 AM
To: David Gordon
Subject: RE: Einstein

David, Your answer was correct.

This puzzle was emailed to me about 5 years ago. I reprinted it exactly as I received it. Since then it has sat happily in some corner of my web site gathering a surprising amount of interest. I get about 4 emails a week like yours asking for confirmation.

I published the Einstein Puzzle in January 1999 just as the Internet was beginning to reach a much wider audience. This is how I got at the top of some of the search engines. My web site isn't particularly high-tech, but it got in at the ground level and has been around quite a while.

As for your observations, unfortunately I have absolutely zero inside information to share with you. All I did was solve the puzzle and reprint it exactly as it came to me.

The 2% angle has intrigued many people including myself.

If you want to know what I really think, I think this is a somewhat difficult logic puzzle that requires patience and intelligence.

I also doubt seriously Einstein was involved.

I imagine more than 2% of the human race can figure it out if sufficiently motivated, but unless the figure is tested over a general population I don't really know. My 12 year old daughter hasn't been able to figure it out and she gets straight A's in school. However she has never 'put her mind to it' as they say. It isn't 'cool' enough for her.

To me the real number might be that only 2% of the total population is interested in trying.

Rick Archer

Email Two (2003):

Dear Rick:
I really enjoyed the Einstein logic puzzle. Whoever designed that has a beautiful mind. I believe the clues were sequential.

After I solved it, I circulated the Einstein puzzle at work (a Houston Medical Center Hospital) with an offer to bake brownies for the winning entry. About 25 people tried the puzzle - and I got seven right answers. At first I was surprised - I only expected one or two correct answers, but in retrospect I should have known I would get a lot of correct solutions since I work with nothing but science nerds. One of my co-workers answered the puzzle within 5 minutes. He said he took an IQ test one time and he scored 150. Avg. is 100, I think.

Luckily, I had told everyone that if more than 1 correct answer was turned in there would be a drawing from the semi-finalist names. I still baked 4 pans of brownies, though. We all had a great time.

As for the infamous 2% concept, I can assert that 28% of my highly educated co-workers got the Einstein puzzle right. Perhaps it's because a large percentage of them are "Internationals."

Americans are generally lousy at science, so many scientists and science majors are imported from Asia, India, Europe, etc. Did you know that within the general population only 1 in 30 people has a science degree? Here at the hospital I work with people from all over the world and English is not their first language.

Several of the Asians were not familiar with logic puzzles and I think that's why they didn't turn theirs back in.

My co-workers have broadened my horizons and they're excellent workers. Several of them have the equivalent of master's degrees in their country. I'm grateful for the chance to work with them. Well, it's late and I have to go. Thanks for the puzzle!

Terri C. Simon

Email Three (2005):

Sent: Sunday, April 10, 2005 4:37 PM

Hey Rick!

i just did that einstein's puzzle thingie... as for einstein's involvement in writing this puzzle... yah right... i strongly disagree with that... but then... that's just my opinion... who knows? maybe im wrong and somehow he *did* write it...

anyways i finished the puzzle in 15 minutes :o)  i'm pretty sure the answer i came up with was right but i was wondering if you would confirm it for me? thanx... it was the XXXX who owned the fish right?

It would be nice if you could get the answer to me as soon as possible because everyone in this house is now trying to solve the puzzle and for some reason they don't trust my answer :o) and are looking for an *official* answer

o yah... and that part about only 2% of the human race being able to solve this puzzle?? I can tell you for certain that if *i* can do it anyone could do it if they tried... seriously... if only 2% of us could solve this puzzle we would still be back in the stone age!

thanx again! 

So there you have some opinions. What do you readers think?  Is the 2% claim nonsense or do you think it is hogwash?   I would be curious to get more perspectives on this subject. (Email to dance@ssqq.com )

By the way, the questions about the 2% Concept come up all the time. 
For another perspective, click TWO PERCENT CHALLENGE

There are two other mythologies surrounding the Einstein Puzzle.

Some people raise questions about the existence of the Fish.  Other people discuss the existence of the Zebra and possible origins of the Einstein Puzzle.  Now we move on to these questions.

2004 Einstein Letter Four - More About the Green House Clue

Tamara Petroff
November 2004

-----Original Message-----
From: Tamara Petroff
Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2004 9:43 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein Puzzle

Hi Rick,

The blah blah blah owns the fish.

I had fun reading your website. I had not previously come across this puzzle but I enjoy the genre and have done many similar ones. I’d call this one medium difficulty. Since you are interested in opinions, I think the 2% claim is utter hogwash. This sort of puzzle can be solved by being systematic and following the clues… no insight or pattern recognition is required. If only 2% of the world’s population could do that, I think as a species we’d still be puzzling out how to make a stone axe.

As a point of interest, when I took the GRE years ago (1986 or thereabouts) they had just instituted a new section on logic. No one knew what it would be like because when I took the test it had just been added. It turned out to consist entirely of puzzles of this type. I ended up with a perfect score… probably not a good measure because they were at that time my favorite type of logic puzzles!  Oh well, it got me into grad school.

As for Einstein’s involvement, I doubt it. For one thing, one of the clues is imprecise and requires an additional assumption to get to the conclusion. “The green house is on the left of the white house” clue doesn’t give enough information on its own to solve the puzzle, you have to assume that it means “
immediately to the left” in order to carry on. 

Or at least I made the assumption — perhaps there’s a more efficient way of going about it that I didn’t see.

Well, back to watching the West Brom – Middlesborough soccer match.

Kind Regards,  Tamara

My Response to Tamara's email:

What a fascinating letter you have sent me, Tamara!

I have to agree with everything you have said to me. And when I say “Everything”, I mean “Everything”.

Point One: “Since you are interested in opinions, I think the 2% claim is utter hogwash. This sort of puzzle can be solved by being systematic and following the clues… no insight or pattern recognition is required. If only 2% of the world’s population could do that, I think as a species we’d still be puzzling out how to make a stone axe.”

Response: It never dawned on me we could use the Einstein Puzzle to decide our species status!!  Clever idea. I wonder if the guy who came up with the wheel can solve the puzzle. On a more serious note, no one seems to believe the 2% claim, me included.

Last year I decided to investigate the claim a little further. I asked my daughter’s 7th grade teacher to pose the puzzle to his math class. On the last day of his class, he did so. Not one girl solved it in 40 minutes. I will simply add this is a very good private Catholic girl’s school and many of the girls are very smart. The teacher solved it, but his students didn’t. He added that since there was no grade involved, most of the girls could have cared less about solved the problem and talked quietly amongst themselves till class was over.  Draw your own conclusions.

40 minutes isn’t much time, but to me the key ingredient is motivation. I think a lot of people could solve this puzzle if their lives depended on it, but I would not be at all surprised to discover only 2% of the population is of the mood to solve it simply for the fun of it.

Point Two: Einstein’s involvement. Neither of us thinks Einstein had anything to do with this puzzle. In six years, no one has written me a word supporting or denying the claim either. At this point it is simply a cute mythology along the lines of Santa Claus.

Point Three: “One of the clues is imprecise and requires an additional assumption to get to the conclusion. ‘The green house is on the left of the white house’ clue doesn’t give enough information on its own to solve the puzzle, you have to assume that it means ‘immediately to the left’ in order to carry on. Or at least I did—perhaps there’s a more efficient way of going about it that I didn’t see.

Response: Tamara, you have correctly identified the very irritating ambiguous clue involving the white and green house.

I decided to try to solve the puzzle again last year (2003). Obviously I knew the answer, but proceeded as if I didn’t know it. When I got to the Green House/White House clue, it stopped me in my tracks just like it did when I originally solved the puzzle.

Let’s pretend that the White House is Number 5, i.e. in the fifth position at the far right.  Until other clues qualify the possibilities, this allows the Green House to be in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th position.

There is nothing in the clue that insists the houses are contiguous.

I eventually found that without assuming they are next door to one another,
I was completely stuck and unable to solve the puzzle.

So I made a leap of faith and decided the clue meant the houses were next to each other. Suddenly the puzzle was solved in an instant.

That is when I realized this is the likely reason why some people take two hours to solve the puzzle while others take 15 minutes.
I imagine the careful puzzle solvers see the more difficult interpretation of the clue and waste valuable time.

A good example of this might be the letter from Don Thomas that I listed earlier on this page:

Thu 02/28/2002 6:04 AM
It took me about 1 hour and 45 minutes to figure it out by drawing 5 house pictures. My son who is 15 figured it out in 10 minutes (ugh) and my 24 year old daughter figured it out 1 hour and 30 minutes. (Do younger minds see it more clearly and quickly because they have less mental bad habits and/or less clutter in their minds?! hmmm...)

I changed the names of the cigarettes to different chewing gums and plan to give the puzzle to my gifted and talented students to see how long they take. Thanks for publishing the puzzle!  DMT"

Although I no longer have the complete email, I remember clearly that this gentleman, Don Thomas, identified himself as a college professor.  Obviously he is no dummy.  So why did it take him 95 minutes longer to solve the puzzle than his son?  And why did his daughter take about the same time as her father?  There has to be an explanation why there is such a disparity in the times it took to reach the correct answer.

Notice Dr. Thomas asked this question “
Do younger minds see it more clearly and quickly because they have less mental bad habits and/or less clutter in their minds?! hmmm...)

I believe it is likely the Professor Thomas' son assumed the houses were right beside each other while his more experienced father was sidetracked by the trickier meaning to the clue.

Indeed, I find it quite possible that many people don’t even realize there is
a more complex reading of the Green House clue and simply assume the two houses border on one another.  Given this assumption, the puzzle is solved much more quickly. So the quick solvers are either brilliant or stupid and lucky. You decide.

I actually gave some thought to correcting this clue, but decided in the spirit of the game to simply leave it the way it is. However, if I get a vision from Einstein in my dreams tonight, I will consider changing it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope your team won the soccer game!

Rick Archer

In case you are curious, two years later I decided to rewrite Clue #4 in 2004. 

After Tamara's letter in 2004, my first instinct was to leave the clue alone. Who was I to mess with such a clever puzzle?

Clue #4 originally read "The green house is to the left of the white house"

This ambiguity allowed there to be one or two other houses between them which made the puzzle much more difficult to solve.  A couple days later I changed my mind and rewrote the clue to read:

2004 Change: The green house is adjacent on the left of the white house

Two years later I received an email that convinced  me I had done the right thing.  Please read the following story:

2006 The Curse of the Green House Strikes Again!

In June 2006, I received an incorrect solution to the Einstein Puzzle.

-----Original Message-----
From: Hammad I
Sent: Sunday, June 04, 2006 4:35 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: I think I found the solution

Hi! I was going thru the puzzle and I think I found the answer. Here it is: 
(blah blah)

I also made an assumption that the phrase " next to" does not really mean from left to right or right to left. As said that the norwegian lives in the first house means he can not live next to any one if we assume that "next to" means left to right. But it is also said that he lives next to the blue house. These statements make it possible that an assumption can be made that "next to " does not mean a particular sequence.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, June 04, 2006 11:55 AM
To: Hammad I
Subject: RE: I think I found the solution

Sorry, Hammad, but this answer doesn't look right. However it looks like you understood the clues properly, so I am uncertain where you got tripped up.

After reading your commentary, I suggest this: Assume you are looking at five houses from across the street.

House One is the Norwegian to the left of your vision.
House Two is the Blue House. (it looks like your answers reflect this order correctly, by the way)
House Three is obviously the middle house.

Now please give it another shot!

-----Original Message-----
From: Hammad I
Sent: Sunday, June 04, 2006 1:38 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: I think I found the solution

Dear Rick,

 I was going through my solution again but couldn't find any thing wrong with it as it is fulfilling all the criteria.

One thing I am not sure about it is that I have placed the GREEN house to the left of WHITE house but not next to it.

Do you think that it may be creating the trouble?? 

I will appreciate your reply.

Hammad's answer opened my eyes, especially the highlighted sentence from above.  I recalled that I had changed the clue on my web site to read:  

The green house is adjacent on the left of the white house

That's when I realized Hammad must be using someone else's set of clue and the ambiguity of the ORIGINAL Clue #4 was clearly tripping him up. 

Obviously if Hammad had gotten his clues from my web site, he would not be so lost since my 2004 adjustment (The green house is adjacent on the left of the white house) had cleared up the ambiguity. 

That indicated he had gotten the clues elsewhere, but was coming to me for help.   So I checked out my theory.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, June 04, 2006 2:11 PM
To: Hammad I
Subject: RE: I think I found the solution

One thing I am not sure about it is that I have placed the GREEN house to the left of WHITE house but not next to it.”

Hammad, that may be the problem.  I remember specifically that the original clue about the green and white house gave me fits.

When I went back a couple years ago to solve the puzzle for a second time just for old times sake, I got stuck on that same clue for the second time. The ambiguity of the clue irritated me so much that in 2004 I deliberately re-worded it.

The original clue read: The green house is on the left of the white house

Theoretically, this clue means if the white house is number five, then the green house could be in 3 or 2 or 1 just as easily as in position. If I remember correctly, the logic puzzle becomes very difficult to solve. I decided to assume that the two houses touched each other and discovered the solution came easily after that.

In 2004 I went back to my web site and reworded the clue.  The current version of the clue reads:

The green house is adjacent on the left of the white house

Please go to my web site, use my version of the clues, and let me know if that gets you over the hurdle.

A couple days later Hammad emailed in the correct answer.  The Third Time was a charm. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Hammad I
Sent: Wednesday, June 07, 2006 8:33 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: einstein I think I found the solution

Dear Rick,

Sorry I was a bit busy but finally i think I got the answer.  I did what you said and used your clues.  Much easier.

This final email confirmed my hunch that Hammad got his clues for the puzzle at another website and got tripped up by his fatal interpretation of the infamous Clue of the Green House. 

Once he used the reworded clue, Hammad did just fine.  This made me feel like I had done the right thing by adjusting the clue in 2004.

Then one day in January 2007, I received a letter that recommended I change Clue #4 back to its original form. Read on.

2007 Further Thoughts on the Green House

-----Original Message-----
From: Andre Beleqwaya
Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2007 4:30 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein Puzzle

Good day. I must say that I enjoyed doing this puzzle, but before I give you my answer, I would like to first comment on the changing of the clue involving the green house
(Editor's Note: Andre is referring to the letters listed directly above)

The clue currently states: "The green house is adjacent on the left of the white house." which was changed from "The green house is on the left of the white house."

I believe that by doing this change, insignificant as it may seem, you alter the very essence of the puzzle. Yes, it becomes more difficult if left in the original form, but I wonder if you truly realize the difficulty of change in full.

When you have the reworded clue on your website, the puzzle falls from a logic puzzle to more of a set of logical instructions. There is not a lot of "puzzle" left if you simply walk through the steps with a diagram.

It also becomes fairly easy to solve, as it appears to be in the "Einstein Letters."

When I first did your puzzle, I solved your version of the puzzle in roughly 20 minutes, since I diagrammed it as I went. However after reading your letters, I was curious so I substituted the original clue.  Now as I FULLY solved the puzzle in its ORIGINAL FORM took me much longer - at least an hour.

When you change the clue back to the original statement, not only are you left with a little ambiguity in the actual problem, but you are also left with variation.

Your answer becomes not one - but two. And because people may not fully solve the problem, it then becomes apparent that very few are actually solving the problem in full - thus you have 2% or less of the population truly solving the puzzle correctly.

On that note the solutions are that either the XXXX or the YYYY owns a fish.

Thank you for your time, Andre

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2007 7:11 PM
To: Andre Beleqwaya
Subject: Einstein Puzzle musings

You know, Andre, I thought about what you said for an hour. I even redid the puzzle as a way to meditate on the infamous clue.

This is what I decided.

Very few people are particularly good at logic puzzles. This particular hobby has nowhere near the popularity of, say, crossword puzzles or sudoku or even word scrambles. There are no daily logic puzzles in the newspaper and I have difficulty finding logic puzzle books in the bookstore.

What I have decided is that I would rather use the fame of the Einstein Puzzle as a way to garner more interest in logic puzzles.

In my opinion, the Einstein puzzle is pretty tough because it has so many variables - nationality, tobacco, drink, pet, house color and house location.

My favorite logic puzzle book divides the puzzles into Easy, Medium, Hard, and Challenger. Based on my experience with the book, I think the Einstein Puzzle at least belongs in the "Hard" section. Let me add that many people who have written to me have rated the puzzle as "difficult" so I don't think my opinion is a stretch.  If we were to return the controversial Clue #4 to its original wording, I would have to believe the difficulty rating of the Einstein Puzzle would be upgraded to the "Challenger" level.

I feel that since I get so many visitors of such differing experience levels, it behooves me to make the puzzle as accessible as possible. For example, I get kids emailing me for the answer!  

And I get people from all over the world whose grasp of English isn't very good.  Imagine how hard it would be trying to solve this puzzle if the clues are ambiguous due to a language barrier!  (Editor's Note: For example, I believe Hammad in the previous letter got stuck due to language difficulties.)

So I agree with you - my 2004 adjustment of Clue #4 that you are discussing did indeed make things a lot easier.

However, now that you have brought it to my attention, I decided to make Clue #4 even easier!  I went back and made another change.

                            Let's review the transformation of Clue 4:
 1. Pre-2004:
 2. 2004-2006:
 3. 2007:
 "The green house is on the left of the white house."
 "The green house is adjacent on the left of the white house."
 "As you look at the 5 houses from across the street, the green house is adjacent to the left of the white house"

Now I realize the logic puzzle pros might disagree with me, but good grief, there are dozens of web sites that actually publish the answer and the steps to take to solve the puzzle!  At least I don't go that far at holding hands.

This puzzle has become so mainstream I think the right thing to do is aim directly at the center of the Bell Curve and let the geniuses look elsewhere for their challenges. For that matter, I publish lots of Logic Puzzles on my own web site and some of them are really hard!  SSQQ Logic Puzzles  The pros can find plenty of tough ones there.

That said, even though I went the opposite direction of your suggestion, please understand I appreciate your point and I have to say your position is definitely a legitimate one. I compliment you for explaining a complex thought in such a clear manner.

Thank you as well for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

2008 Further Thoughts on the
Green House


From: Kiran C
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 9:11 AM
To: 'dance@ssqq.com'
Subject: Solution to puzzle

Hello Mr Rick Archer,

The (answer deleted) has the fish J

I am from Massachusetts and happened to receive the Einstein puzzle yesterday from a cousin.

owever, it had incomplete information as to the location of green house/white house.  

After I landed on your site, I was able to solve the puzzle in less than 5 minutes.

Thanks, Kiran


-----Original Message-----
From: Kiran C
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 8:19 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: RE: Solution to puzzle

Hello again Mr Rick Archer,

BTW, needless to say, I spent most of yesterday on the incorrect puzzle (shown below). If you study it, you will see it is quite a challenge to figure this out if you don’t know who the observer is
as it was explained precisely in your puzzle.  Using the one below, I was not able to solve it AT ALL!

After sending you my first email, I decided to read your page of Einstein letters.  I smiled when the subject of 'times' came up on which you have spent so much time, so I thought I will make you feel better…

there is a person who took more than 5hours, maybe 24hours, that is me  ;-)

You can post these other clues and see if people will be able to solve this…

Thanks, Kiran

EINSTEIN’S PUZZLE (from a different web site, NOT SSQQ)

Are you one of the top 2 % of the most intelligent people in the world?
There is no trick to the following puzzle. It can be solved using pure logic. Good luck and don't give up:

1. There are 5 houses each of a different color.
2. One person lives in each house and the residents each have different nationalities.
3. Each resident prefers a certain drink, smokes a certain brand of cigarettes, and has a certain house pet.
4. NONE of the five persons drinks the same drink, smokes the same brand of cigarettes or has the same house pet as any one of the other residents.

Question: Who has the fish?

The clues:

  1. The Englishman lives in the red house.
  2. The Swede has a dog.
  3. The Dane likes to drink tea.
  4. The green house is left of the white house.
  5. The resident in the green house drinks coffee.
  6. The person who smokes Pall Mall has a bird.
  7. The man who lives in the middle house drinks milk.
  8. The resident in the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
  9. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
  10. The Marlboro smoker lives next to the person with a cat.
  11. The man who has a horse lives next to the person who smokes Dunhill.
  12. The Winfield smoker likes to drink beer.
  13. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
  14. The German smokes Rothmanns.
  15. The Marlboro smoker has a neighbor who drinks water.

Einstein composed this puzzle in the last century. He claimed that 98% of the world's population was incapable of solving it.  See if you are in the rest 2%.

From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 10:28 AM
To: Kiran C
Subject: RE: Solution to puzzle

You are very kind, Kiran.

If I have understood correctly what you have written, you are saying that my explanations cleared up the misleading clues?


-----Original Message-----
From: Kiran C
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 9:34 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Solution to puzzle

Absolutely.  It was a no-brainer after reading your clues.

Best, Kiran

-----Original Message-----
From: Kiran C
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 7:10 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Solution to puzzle

Dear Mr Rick,

After reading more posts and becoming an official hall of famer (Green House Curse), I was curious and tried to solve the puzzle (green house is to the left of white house).

It turns out I was wrong. There is no ambiguity. There is no need to concern whether you see it from across the road or standing on the white house front door. In other words, it has no bearing on the final result J

The biggest clue is the middle house person dinks milk…basically, this means that this is NOT green house. This ALSO MEANS house 4 or 5 can be Green house. The *beauty* of the puzzle lies in the fact house 4 can be white or green. So does house 5. In the benefit of hindsight, it all sounds so easy. So, the people who assumed or did not so much as to bat an eyelid at this *controversial line* were really lucky. I cannot speak on behalf of the brilliant ones J.

I should say, if this puzzle was attempted without being too cautious (as in a previous post), this puzzle is really solvable in 5-15minutes. Sigh!

Hope you add this comment to complete the picture.
Thanks,  Kiran

Rick Archer's Note:  Kiran's experience is interesting for several reasons.

First, Kiran clearly supports my contention that the original clues were deeply ambiguous.

Second, perhaps my original 5 hour time can be explained by the ambiguous clue.  Mind you, Kiran's email stated he took the same amount of time I did when I first tried solving the puzzle.

Third, he said the puzzle took about 5 minutes using my amended clues.

Fourth, Kiran's experience opens the possibility that only 2% of the world can solve the puzzle in its original form... that is, assuming people don't simply assume the houses touch each other, thereby shaving hours off their time.

Einstein Letter Five - Emily Pitts asks an Interesting Question:
Who Owns the Zebra?
February 2005

-----Original Message-----
From: emily pitts
Sent: Sunday, February 06, 2005 12:18 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein's puzzle

Dear Rick,

I just found your site via Google, and have read the postings on the Einstein puzzle. Just to share some info with you, since it seems like everyone else is!

I've been thinking about this for some time and have decided to make an interactive, animated game based on this puzzle. The qualities will be changed a little bit-but the logic will be the same. Having just found your site, I thought you may be interested in seeing this (it's barely off the ground at the moment-hopefully I will complete it by May).

I've found some other possible myths about this puzzle. Some credit it to Lewis Carroll, others say it took JFK only 20 minutes to solve. The internet can be seen as a rather large rumor mill, hmm? 
(Editor's Note: NO KIDDING!)  

Also, the puzzle may've appeared in the International Edition of Life Magazine, back in 1962 (based on what other folks on the web are saying).

I bought a board game at a flea market last summer called "Who Owns the Octopus?" It seems to be a cocktail/icebreaker game from the 60s. The subjects differ, but the clues appear to match up to the Einstein puzzle (unfortunately, this puzzle also came with no solution!). The game has cardboard cut-outs of colored houses, men of different nationalities, pets, drinks, and cigarettes.

I can send you the "Who Owns the Octopus?" clues and my personal solution if you're interested-haven't found this one anywhere else. Another variation online is "Who Owns the Zebra"

Best, Emily

(Editor's Note: At the time Emily's email came in, I was swamped with work so I didn't take the time to investigate Emily's information about the Zebra.  All I did was post it on my web site so I wouldn't forget about it.  Ten months later I received another email discussing the Zebra.  This new email caught me at a better time.  The coincidence of two different letters connecting the story of the Zebra to the Einstein Puzzle was too much to overlook.  This time I investigated.

You will read about the second letter further down the page when we get to "Einstein Letter Eleven" written by Shawn Kielty.)

Einstein Letter Six - The Man Who Did the Puzzle Backwards!
July 2006

-----Original Message-----
From: Husam A
Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 10:03 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: einstein puzzle

Dear Rick, A friend of mine told me about einstein puzzle so as I like logic puzzles I searched the web that night and your site was the first to come up.

After I solved it I thought that Enistein would not make it that easy so I decided to solve it backwards (because you did not mention that in the clues) if the norwegian house was the first to the right instead of the left.

at the end i came up with the same answer (the same for each owner's properties) but with different sequence of houses, but that one was really hard to solve, it took over 90 minutes.

hope that you try and enjoy it that way.  Thanks, Husam

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, July 12, 2006 11:27 AM
To: Husam
Subject: RE: einstein puzzle

I have received some odd letters about the Einstein puzzle over the years. I think your letter deserves to be listed in that category.

This is NOT meant to be disrespectful, by the way, just an observation.   I am so limited in my brain power that I cannot conceive of solving the riddle backwards for the sheer fun of it.

You are obviously way more creative than I am.

By the way, Dr. Einstein likely had nothing to do with this riddle. Let that be a secret btw you and me along the lines of Santa Claus.


Einstein Letter Seven -
Wayne Renaud and the Philosophical Treatise on the Existence of the Fish
February 2005

As you will see Mr. Renaud is a gentleman who put a great deal of thought into the Einstein Puzzle.

-----Original Message-----
From: Wayne Renaud [mailto:waynerenaud@optushome.com.au]
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2005 10:54 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: the Einstein Puzzle


I came across the Einstein Puzzle last month, and then saw the 'dance studio' website - the level of interest in this puzzle is eye-opening!

I respectfully offer a theory that if someone actually made the comment that 98% of the population could not solve the problem, he/she may not have been intimating that only 2% of the population could successfully wade through the facts of a problem of this complexity to isolate 'Xxxxx' as the supposed answer. It is more likely that the '98%' statistic referred to the person's view that very few people learn to accurately differentiate facts from assumptions.

This is because the popularly thought answer to the problem (that is: 'the Xxxxx has fish') may NOT be correct. Following are my reasons, and what the answer appears to really be.
_ _ _ _ _

With this puzzle, facts are given and then a question is asked in relation to the facts. The key to this puzzle is, I believe, to understand that the question 'WHO HAS FISH? is itself NOT one of the facts, and that we are not entitled to add to the given facts by inferring an additional 'fact' within the question. What attempted additional 'fact'?

The clues (facts) at some point specifically name all five house colours, all five nationalities, all five beverage types, all five smoking brands, but only FOUR types of animal. Crucially, 'fish' is not mentioned anywhere in the facts of the puzzle. This is not trivial - it confirms that 'fish' is not NECESSARILY an animal type associated with one of the five nationalities.

If the question 'WHO HAS FISH?' were in fact able to be answered based on given facts that do not include 'fish', then so would be the additional question 'WHO HAS SHEEP?' which is also an animal not mentioned in the facts. With the four non-Xxxxx nationalities able to be associated logically with their respective four known animal types, any resultant association of BOTH fish and sheep to the Xxxxx would of course not be in accordance with the fact that each nationality has only one type of animal. But, association of EITHER fish or sheep to the Xxxxx then simply demonstrates that we don't know for sure which type of animal the Xxxxx has.

So the answer to the question 'WHO HAS THE FISH?' really seems to be that while the other four nationalities definitely do not have fish, the Xxxxx MAY have fish. This is an expansive way of skirting around the stark conclusion that - from the facts given - we do not and cannot know who has the fish (but that it might be the Xxxxx).

If this is still is not clear, consider this simple puzzle:
(1) Bob and Mary are of different ages.
(2) Mary is 20 years old.


If we were to say that the answer is 'Bob', this would be equivalent to saying that facts (1) and (2) alone show that Bob is 25 years old. Clearly they do not because the two facts nowhere attribute an age of 25 to anyone! So the answer is: 'WE CANNOT KNOW FOR CERTAIN - BUT IT MIGHT BE BOB'.
The same goes for asking about 'fish' in relation to a set of clues that doesn't mention 'fish'.
_ _ _ _ _

If this is in fact correct, far less than 2% of the population would probably solve it. Even if we discount the number of:

. people without sufficient education to attempt the puzzle (consider the 3rd world and its education levels);

. children too young to absorb the necessary education to attempt it;

. very elderly people who perhaps for decades have not exercised their puzzle-solving skills;
. people of adequate age and education, but who simply can't solve the puzzle;

...then many very intelligent people who otherwise could get to this solution may instead be diverted by the apparently popular assumption that the problem is all about 'matrix reduction' analysis leading to the suggested dubious 'Xxxxx' solution.

Perhaps in the dim origins of this puzzle, this suggested answer may contribute to the poignancy of Einstein's association (real or otherwise) with it. After all, his tremendous achievement in developing relativity theories meant identifying and putting aside some traditional, assumed observations about space-time, then making sense of the real 'facts' as he saw them and in turn integrating those facts into an understanding of the universe that was... ...not what anyone could have expected!

Best regards,

Rick Archer's Reply:
 -----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2005 1:20 PM
To: Wayne Renaud
Subject: Einstein Puzzle musings

I can see you have put a great deal of thought into this, Wayne, and I read with interest in what you have to say.

Unfortunately I am too swamped in my life to consider what you say at the moment in other than a cursory manner.

Back when I was in college, my professor once said in a lecture how fortunate we were to have the time to contemplate the philosophy of life because a Mexican bean farmer is too preoccupied with survival to have that luxury. He was referring to the college kids like me who actually did have time to think about life issues if we cared to. 

Sadly I am now at the Mexican bean farmer stage of my life. I have so much work to do I am afraid I find your letter too complex to take time to consider at the moment.  Please forgive.

That said, I appreciate your thoughts very much. I will post your letter plus your email address in case someone wishes to contact you in regards to your letter.

Einstein Letter Eight -
Maggie Jackson and the Theory that the Puzzle is a Hoax
February 2005

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 11:22 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Answer to einstein puzzle

Just a quick stab before, I too, spend half a day trying to figure it out, my answer is that
No One owns the fish. The instructions do not say that anyone owns a fish. There are many other animals that can be pets. We are only assuming when we say that any one of them owns a fish.

Please hurry and tell me if I am correct. The suspense is driving me crazy.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer mailto: dance@ssqq.com
Sent: Sunday, December 04, 2005 7:59 AM
Subject: RE: Answer to einstein puzzle

Maggie wrote: "my answer is that No one owns the fish."

My reply: Wrong answer

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 12:40 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Fwd: Answer to puzzle

Dear Rick,

I received the Einstein puzzle from my son this morning, who has an IQ of 140. This ranks in the genius category. His comment to me was "If you think you are so smart, figure this one out." It took me 5 minutes to read the clues and come up with my first impulse answer. Wanting my answer to be verified, I immediately sent an email to you for confirmation. I have included a copy of that email in this letter.

In the hour since I sent the original, I have had time to read your Einstein letters page, which I found very interesting. I couldn't believe that people spent so much time trying to solve a puzzle with the answer so obvious. You can imagine my surprise when I read the letter from Wayne Renaud and your response to him.

He is so right and so am I. (Editor's Note: Mr. Renaud's letter is in the previous listing above.)

The whole point of a logic puzzle is to have an answer which is so logical that 98% of the population fail to see it. From your answer to him, I am "assuming" (and that is a bad thing to do) that you think my answer is incorrect. I also have googled for the answer and found what is "supposed" to be the answer. I totally disagree. They, too, assume too much.

By the way, that genius son of mine hasn't solved the puzzle yet, either.

I look forward to your reply.

Maggie Jackson
Kentucky, USA

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, December 04, 2005 8:03 AM
Subject: Answer to einstein puzzle

Maggie wrote this:
ou can imagine my surprise when I read the letter from Wayne Renaud and your response to him.  He is so right and so
am I!"

Sorry to disagree with you, but I am simply not open-minded enough to see this puzzle in a metaphysical manner.  After reading the thoughts of people for over 8 years, I see the Einstein Puzzle as a Logic Puzzle, nothing more.

Mr. Renaud was very sincere in his philosophical musings and I respected his point of view.  But that doesn't mean I had to agree with him.  I believe there is absolutely NO deeper meaning to the Einstein Puzzle.

he Einstein Puzzle is a somewhat difficult puzzle that anyone with average experience at solving logic puzzles can solve in less than an hour. Those without experience struggle a bit, but even beginners typically come up with the right answer in one or two hours.

I am always amazed by the people who go into deep philosophical rants about four-dimensional solutions (I wish I could find that letter!), solving it backwards, alternative universe solutions, and now your suggestion that no solution exists because I am playing a trick. It seems unlikely these people have never opened a Book of Logic Problems or they would recognize the Einstein Puzzle for what it is, a logic puzzle, BUT NOTHING MORE.

"Just a quick stab before, I too, spend half a day trying to figure it out, my answer is that No One owns the fish. The instructions do not say that anyone owns a fish. There are many other animals that can be pets. We are only assuming when we say that any one of them owns a fish."

Maggie, you are grasping at straws. Let me repeat: The Einstein Puzzle is a Logic Puzzle, nothing more. There is an ANSWER.  And that ANSWER is NOT "No one owns the Fish".

I assure you I am not trying to trick you in any way. It is not my game to put up this puzzle in order to deceive people.  My web site is NOT part of an elaborate Internet Conspiracy. There are no Da Vinci Code hidden messages to bother looking for. I am not a Rosicrucian or Free Mason sending out messages in cipher.  I have no idea who killed Kennedy or Hoffa nor do I know who the true descendant of Jesus is. Furthermore, I highly doubt this puzzle contains any religious symbolism or messages.

I publish the Einstein Puzzle strictly for the fun of it.  I answer emails such as yours because the Einstein Puzzle is one of my contributions to the global community. I enjoy seeing the enthusiasm of the people who email me asking for the answers.  In other words, I have no hidden agendas. End of story.

"I also have googled for the answer and found what is "supposed" to be the answer. I totally disagree. They, too, assume too much."

That's too bad - the Google Answers are correct, I assure you.

As stated in great detail on my web site, by using charts and logic, in 1998
I found the correct solution to the puzzle the first time I tried it. I emailed Donna Ruth, the person who sent it to me, to be sure. Donna confirmed I was right. She said my answer matched the answer contained in her email.  I was proud of myself - at the time, this was  the hardest logic puzzle I had ever solved.

Since that time, over an eight year span I have received more than 1,000 answers from people whose solution agreed with mine.  I have received less than a hundred answers in the same span that disagreed with mine.  Since 95% of all answers have agreed with my own, over the years I have become totally convinced that my original answer was RIGHT. Now I suppose there is a remote possibility that my answer is incorrect, but I don't think so.  Therefore, as arrogant as this must sound, I took the liberty of telling the Hundred whose answers disagreed with mine that they were wrong.  90% of them tried again and got the same answer as me on the second trip around.

In 2006, I did a google search of my own for the Einstein Puzzle. I found the same answer as mine in several places. As you likely discovered, not only can the Einstein Puzzle be found in sites all over the Internet, the solution to this puzzle is LISTED in plain English on several web sites. 

Some web sites even list step by step the instructions on how to solve this puzzle.  For example, this puzzle can now be found in the Wikipedia Internet Encyclopedia with the answer and how to achieve the solution.  Interestingly, their answer is the same as mine. 

I have a suggestion: Type "wipipedia einstein puzzle" into google and see what you get. I firmly believe you will discover what I have said in this letter is accurate.

Being something of a rebel myself, I admire people like you who have the self-confidence to stand up for themselves in the face of overwhelming opposition.  Nevertheless, I think you are totally off base in your assertion that "no one owns the Fish". I guarantee if you try solving the puzzle just like everyone else does, you will discover that the clues are gracefully put together in a way that lead you directly to the commonly-accepted answer. 

That said, you are entitled to your opinion. God Bless America and our Constitutional right to free speech.

-----Original Message-----
From: Olga Koshelkova
Sent: Sunday, July 16, 2006 5:54 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein's Puzzle

By the way, I was reading your Einstein letters some more.  That Maggie lady got under your skin, didn't she?

Ah, do you remember Olga?  Here is another letter from the woman I confessed my love to!  Let's see what I said.

 -----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, July 17, 2006 1:20 PM
To: Olga Koshelkova
Subject: re Einstein's Puzzle

You are quite perceptive. Maggie did get under my skin.

Maggie didn't even bother to solve the puzzle. Her kid challenged her to do it and it was easier just to look for some rationalization to allow her to skip doing the work.  The moment I saw the line "He is so right and so am I!", I lost it.  As far as I was concerned, the corollary to what she said was
'If Wayne and Maggie are right, then Rick is wrong'. 

Well, that got to me. I went into a trance and started typing furiously.  When I eventually returned to consciousness, I realized I had practically written a book.

That's when I realized my letter was a complete waste of time. It was like trying to argue with a person who insists the Holocaust didn't ever happen.  I thought I learned my lesson back in college not to argue with someone's beliefs.

2007: Here we go again:

 -----Original Message-----
From: Boomer Welles
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2007 1:07 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein Puzzle

Nobody owns a fish.

In case you are curious how I responded to the letter above, I said, "wrong answer" and linked Mr. Welles to Maggie's letter.  He did not respond.


During 2007, I continued to receive an occasional email that wished to address the Existence of the Fish problem.  Some were serious, some were amusing.

Here is a serious dialogue on the Existence from the Fish Question.

From: Chris W
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2007 10:30 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Einstein Puzzle israel/netherlands

My girlfriend found an interesting web site where it is claimed that 98% of man-kind cannot solve the puzzle because there is a flaw in their logic.

We can all deduce our way to solving most of the matrix of animals, people, colours, drinks and cigarettes, but this gentleman stipulated that finishing the matrix does not mean the (CORRECT ANSWER) has the fish.

We can assume there is a fish, and that the (CORRECT ANSWER) has it since he doesn't have the other animals, but logically speaking there is no proof in the hints of a fish' existence.  Therefore the (CORRECT ANSWER) could well own a monkey, cow or no pet whatsoever.

I found it an interesting take on the puzzle, because that would be a logical oversight many people would make, and therefore the only answer that 98% of people don't come up with.

Here is a great letter regarding the Existence from the Fish. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Lillian
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2007 5:08 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Eintstein's Puzzle

I figured out the puzzle and I think the (CORRECT ANSWER) owns the fish. Right?  But my Dad says my answer is wrong, that no one owns the fish because it is not in the Clues section. I am writing because I need to know if I am right or Dad is right.

I live in Minnesota, in the twin cities. (Nowhere special).  Also I am 13 years old. :)  I think it took my about 45 minutes to figure it out, but I'm estimating.  I feel a little
wierd emailing you but I trust you not to be some kind of mad pshyco.

(This young lady is some sort of cross between Leslie and Debborah.  Amazing that she was immediately suspicious of me, but didn't care as long as I helped her beat her father!) 



-----Original Message-----
From: BS
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2007 10:40 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einstein Puzzle

I recently ruffled a lot of feathers at an MSN group I'm in. The head manager had posted the Fish version of the puzzle, calling it a quiz.

I remembered working on it back in the 80s when Einstein was credited with creating it before he was 20.

Anyway, the manager after criticizing and demeaning me intensely, considering herself very intelligent and creative ("right-brained like Einstein" as she claimed), was emphatic that the CORRECT answer was that the owner of the Fish could not be determined because the fish was not called a pet either in the question nor in the clues and that was supposed to be ambiguous enough to overcome any logic employed in arriving at any other answer.

She claimed superior logic showed that the ambiguity superseded any other conclusions AND that the answer ("no determination possible") was in the 15 clues AND therefore did not make a lie out of the last statement about the solution being in the 15 clues.

After meeting so many power-mongers who will say and distort anything just to stay in control and have their way, it was a pleasure to come across your site with such thoughtful respondents and you as the host.

Kudos for all the other background info provided on this puzzle.

My Response

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2007 11:53 AM
To: BS
Subject: RE: Einstein Puzzle

Bless your heart!  I am getting a big chuckle out of your predicament; shame on me. ;-)

We need to put this "Existence of the Fish" mythology to rest. 

Here is a review of the facts: The puzzle lists 5 houses, 5 nationalities, 5 colors, etc etc.

Furthermore the opening statement says:
These 5 owners drink a certain drink, smoke a certain brand of tobacco and keep a certain pet.
No owners have the same pet, smoke the same tobacco, or drink the same drink.

The implication is that there is FIVE of everything. This is a LOGIC PUZZLE.
Logic Puzzles are not riddles. They are supposed to be fun brain exercises that have a unique solution just like Crossword and Sudoku. Logic Puzzles are supposed to play fair. If A, then B and so on.

If this was a "Brain Teaser", then maybe I would suggest the manager's position might have a point.

But as it stands there are FIVE OF EVERYTHING with one exception… there are four pets… dog - bird -cat - horse… and the first thing the puzzle does is list the FISH as the fifth pet.

Uh oh... Well, now that I think of it, your manager has a point - the FISH is not identified as a pet.  Such an insight!   But the puzzle says there are five pets. By your manager's logic, why should we assume the dog - bird -cat - horse are pets?  Maybe the water is a pet.  Maybe someone smokes tea.  Your manager thinks she is clever, but her assumptions lead us to absurdity.  Wouldn't it be easier to simply take a leap of faith and try solving the puzzle?  After all, the puzzle is very easy to solve if you treat it like a LOGIC PUZZLE instead an existential investigation into God's true purpose for mankind.

More than likely, the addition of the Fish in the opening question saves the person who created the puzzle an extra line of clues. It could be just as simple an explanation as that.

There are people who do not agree with me. In my Einstein article, Wayne Renaud stated this:
"The key to this puzzle is, I believe, to understand that the question 'WHO HAS FISH? is itself NOT one of the facts, and that we are not entitled to add to the given facts by inferring an additional 'fact' within the question."

Well, that's Mr. Renaud's opinion. I don't agree.

But notice that Mr. Renaud said '
I believe…'

Now that is honest.  Everyone has a right to believe whatever he or she wants as long as they don't hurt other people who don't share their beliefs!!!  Don't go killing Buddhists because they don't worship Mohammed.

As for my beliefs, I BELIEVE Mr. Renaud and everyone else has the right to believe what he or she want to believe without having someone else try to bully them into submission, ESPECIALLY on something like the Einstein Puzzle which is the Ultimate Trivial Pursuit… a lowly logic puzzle that was elevated to cosmic importance just because someone lied and claimed that Einstein wrote it and a bunch of dopes had fun pretending it was true. Oh Please.

Let your manager argue all she wants. You can direct her to my web site and ask her to write a letter which I PROMISE to post defending her position.

I personally think you are brilliant for combing the Internet to find someone like me who agrees with you! Now that is clever.

But complimenting me so I will agree with you… that's brilliant!  ;-)


August 2007

(Rick's Note: Believe it or not, I was so affected by the letter above that I continued to think about it for days. I could not believe someone was being pushed around over something as 'ultimately trivial' as our Einstein Puzzle. After thinking about it for several days, I decided to write this article)


We all recoil in horror at the barbarous atrocities currently attributed to Arab terrorism.  9-11, the senseless suicide bombings in Israel, and the horrible beheading of Daniel Pearl.  I don't even have to dig to come up with examples. These three sickening images came instantly to mind.

But you know what?  As much as we condemn the Islamic Militants, they aren't the first savages on the face of the Earth to murder innocent people for what they believed in.  I am no history expert, but I can rattle four simple examples right off the top of my head - The Holocaust, the Inquisition, feeding early Christians to the lions, the Crusades.  History is replete with stories where people have died horrible deaths for what they believed in. 

We all know the Catholic Church has a horrible history of persecution and religious intolerance.  After all, wasn't religious intolerance the basis for the plot of the Da Vinci Code?  We had great fun reading the Da Vinci Code as our heroes dodged murderous religious zealots determined to prevent them from uncovering the truth about Christian origins. 

Back when I was a little boy, say 10 years old, I came across a book of famous paintings in my mother's book collection.  One picture caught my eye.  I stared at it for a long time, then suddenly burst into tears.  It was really a terrible picture.  I remember it had to do with the Huguenots.  So I typed 'Huguenot' into Google and came up with the picture plus the story.

"Consider Pope Pius V.   When he was Grand Inquisitor, he sent Catholic troops to kill 2,000 Waldensian Protestants in Calabria in southern Italy.  After becoming pope, he sent Catholic troops to kill Huguenot Protestants in France. He ordered the commander to execute every prisoner taken.

Pius also launched the final crusade against the Muslims, sending a Christian naval armada to slaughter thousands in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

And he intensified the Roman Inquisition, torturing and burning Catholics whose beliefs varied from official dogma.

After his death, he was canonized a saint. Pius still is venerated by the church."

Today's Islamic fanatics happen to be the greatest threat to civilization on our planet. They kill innocent people at the drop of a hat.  But as much as I decry Islamic Terrorism in today's world, I do not wish to single these people out as the only monsters in human history.  They are just the latest barbarians in a long line of narrow-minded monsters that goes back to the dawn of recorded history.  

As you see from the story above, that long line includes many people who represented the Catholic Church.   In addition to the death of the Huguenots, the Spanish Inquisition stands as another example of the senseless practice of killing people in the name of God.  From 1560 to 1700, there were 49,000 trials for the crime of Heresy.  People were brutally tortured in attempts to force them to confess any variety of evil thoughts and deeds.

Intellectual bigotry has been with us for a long time.  Did you know that Galileo was threatened with death by church officials for having the nerve to suggest the Earth revolved around the Sun? 

Thank goodness Galileo didn't have to pay the ultimate price, but he still suffered greatly.  Galileo was brought to trial and actually convicted of heresy by the Church for his stunning scientific achievement.  He was ordered sent to prison, although his sentence was later changed to house arrest. 

Galileo should have considered himself lucky... lots of people have died for less. 

Ignorance is not certainly not limited to the Middle East and Europe.  Here in America, the Salem Witch Trials serves as another prime example of people dying needlessly due to Religious Intolerance.

The Salem Witch Trials resulted in the death of 21 innocent people.  21 people had to die because a bunch of deluded people thought they were doing "God's Will". 

21 innocent people were killed.  Why?  Because they were accused of witchcraft.  Was there even the slightest bit of physical evidence?   No, of course not.  Ironically these people all died based on the testimony of a 12 year old girl who obviously made the whole thing up.

To this day, the term "Witch Hunt" has become synonymous with investigations theoretically to uncover subversive activity, but in reality used to harass and undermine people who have differing views than the people in power.

"Trial of George Jacobs, 1692"  by TH Matheson

That's the way it is in the Religion Business.  For centuries, people have died because other people are convinced that they know beyond the shadow of a doubt what some Invisible God wants them to do.  Mind you, I am not an atheist.  Far from it... there are far too many mysteries that suggest a Divine Hand for me to have a closed mind on this issue. 

But I am also convinced that a loving God would prefer to see human beings stop killing each other in His or Her name. 

Why do people have to die for what they believe in?  

During my college days, I spent a lot of time studying philosophy and religion. One thing I discovered is that lots of people have lots of different ideas. When you are in college, you are surrounded by a lot of bright people with time on their hands to discuss very serious topics. I loved the free exchange of ideas.

This is America at its best - Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.  Have you ever stopped to consider that one of the things that makes our country great is the high degree of intellectual freedom?  What if our scientists risked death for suggesting new theories like Galileo did?  I imagine a lot of creative thinking would vanish.

Back in college,
I took it for granted that I could talk about any subject I wished without any fear that I might die for my words or be brought in front of a tribunal.  Thank goodness America has evolved a long way since the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

But that 'intellectual freedom' door swings both ways.  I discovered it was almost impossible to convince other people that my religious views were correct. College is where I learned the hard way that the two most difficult conversations in the world revolved around religion and politics. 

One day a close friend of mine and I compared notes. We discovered we were both frustrated because we were having a hard time convincing other people that our religious ideas were correct. The problem was simple - there really wasn't any way to prove what we believed. That's why it was called a "Belief". If you can prove something, then it becomes a "Fact" and no longer a "Belief".

Since our Invisible God never bothered to intervene on our behalf, we soon found this "Belief Business" was hard work.

We were frustrated out of our minds trying to convince people why WE were RIGHT and THEY were WRONG.

We were arguing ourselves into a brain aneurysm over things like the meaning of certain Bible passages.  We would argue and argue, but no one would ever give in.  This 'free thinking' stuff was driving us crazy!  These were topics that had no right answer and no way to prove that our position was the correct one.  But we continued to argue anyway.

Finally I came to a blinding epiphany - why bother?  Since I had never successfully convinced anyone that my views were correct... and they had never successfully convinced me that their views were correct... why bother?

That is how I learned my lesson - let people believe what they want.  

As long as they weren't threatening to hurt me (or KILL ME), I decided it was a lot easier just to let people believe whatever they wanted to.  Up to that point, I was actually losing sleep trying to think of arguments that would persuade people in my circle to see things my way.  I was actually a nervous wreck because I worried about it all the time.  But once I stopped trying to be an intellectual bully, my life improved immediately.   It was a miracle.

I will conclude my article with this advice - We think we are not in the Dark Ages any more, but let me remind you that the victims of the Holocaust are only 60 years in the past.  Josef Stalin murdered 20 million Russians to make sure the few people still alive saw things his way. I suppose that's one way to get a consensus of opinion.

I realize that none of us would dream of murdering someone for their beliefs.  

But isn't it a shame that we still have people on this planet who actually think their God wants people killed on his or her behalf?

Maybe we should all stop bullying people for their Beliefs.  Try Friendly Persuasion instead.  We will all live longer.


Einstein Letter Nine -
The Two Percent Mythology is Challenged Again!
August 2006

 -----Original Message-----
From: Kevin D
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2006 10:38 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Einsteins Puzzle

The blah blah owns the Fish. It took me about an hour.

I also had two other people in my office do the puzzle and one solved it one did not.

So, statistically speaking, the 98% rule is untrue. In my case, 67% can solve it, not 2%.

 -----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2006 10:51 AM
To: Kevin D
Subject: RE: Einsteins Puzzle

Kevin, I can't honestly believe you think that a sample of 3 people is statistically significant. ;-)

My guess is you are looking at three college graduates in your office. I am sure if the one in your office who got it wrong tried a little harder, he or she would eventually master it as well.  Success is usually related mostly to brain power, but motivation and perseverance counts too

Now let me contradict what I just wrote.  If you want to know what I really think, the Only 2% Can Solve It Statistic was some nonsense made up on the spot by someone who crafted the original email as a way to hook people into trying the puzzle. Most people recognize the 2% Rule for what it really is - a clever ploy. 

That said, there is actually a chance the 2% Rule is correct!

For starter, in 2004 I simplified the puzzle substantially. 
After I clarified the Green House Clue in 2004, my version of the Einstein Puzzle became much easier to solve.  So there is one explanation right there.

But wouldn't it be interesting to know what percent of the Earth's population could actually solve the Einstein puzzle?

For sake of argument, what about all the Mexican bean farmers, African bushmen, Alaskan Eskimos, Mongolian sheep herders, Amazon River fisherman, Chinese farmers, and Vietnamese rice farmers?  Shouldn't they be included in the sample too?  How do you suppose they would fare with this puzzle?  And what about children below the age of 13?  For example, my own daughter couldn't solve it at age 12.

I agree when it comes to educated North Americans, the 98% assertion is ridiculous.  But when you consider the entire human population, there is an outside chance the 2% success rate is an accurate estimate.
The assertion likely has never been tested and probably never will be. 

Practically everyone who solves the puzzle is well-educated.  But they live in their own little worlds and don't really see the big picture. 

Please read the following essay.

If One Hundred People Lived on Earth
submitted by Reza Taherian, 1999

If we could shrink the Earth’s population to a Village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, the Village would look like something like the following : 

There would be:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
8 Africans

14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south

52 would be female
48 would be male

70 would be non-white
30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth, and all 6 would be from the United States

80 would live in substandard housing

70 would be unable to read

50 would suffer from malnutrition

1 would be near death; 1 would be near birth

Only 1 person (yes, only 1) would have a college education

Only 1 person would own a computer

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for both acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

Rick Archer's Note:  On our planet, only one person in a hundred has a college education.  That 2 percent challenge makes a lot more sense when you look at things in this perspective.





Einstein Letter Ten - The Day the Einstein Puzzle Flooded my In-Box!

On Sunday, January 7, 2007, something very interesting happened to me involving the Einstein Puzzle.  Here are two equal lists.

Since the two pictures above are nearly unreadable, I took the top and bottom names from both lists above and created two more legible pictures.  Look at the two pictures below and see if you can spot what doesn't make sense.

I will give you a little more time to figure it out. 










I am fairly certain you solved the riddle above, but even if you didn't, here goes:

On the list on the left, notice it took
5 MONTHS to get to 55 names. 

On the list on the right, it took
7 DAYS to get to 55 names. 

On Saturday, January 6, I had 15 requests in one day!   On Sunday, January 7, I had 15 more requests in one day!  That made 30 requests in two days.

Out of the Blue, I was being inundated with requests for the answer to the puzzle.   My curiosity told me something was afoot.

One week of activity equaled 5 months of activity.  There had to be an explanation for all this sudden interest.  So I decided to send an email to the 15 people who emailed me on Saturday.  Here is what I said:

From: Rick Archer
(15 different people)
Subject: RE: Einstein puzzle
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2007 03:55:37 

I have a favor to ask. I received 15 requests for the answer in one day yesterday. I average about one request every three days. 

Here are the names of the people who emailed me for the answer (in the order I received them):

1. Andrea Galantini
2. Stiles Anderson
3. Brianna Bessette
4. Tim Davidson
5. Aurien Derelyn
6. Iain Surgey
7. Tom Sanders
8. Drew

9. Deayres
10. Vince Chan
11. Piper Secrets
12. Daniel Mahaffey
13. Andreas Rasholm
14. Joe Smith
15. Estela Perez

Reviewing the names, one sounds Italian, one sounds Swedish, one sounds French, one sounds English, one sounds Scottish, one sounds Asian, one sounds German, and Estela is Spanish (she said she was from Mexico). The names don't seem to have any connection. Including a review of the email addresses, on the surface, there doesn't seem to be any connection between the 15 of you at all.

The reason I am curious is this:

I reviewed my email and discovered it took 23 days to receive my previous
15 requests (12/12/2006 to 01/04/07: 15)

And before that it took 2 1/2 months to get 15! (09/24/2006 to 12/11/2006:

The most requests for a single day during that two and a half month period was Two.  This jives with my hunch. I would guess that in eight years of answering questions about the Einstein Puzzle, the most requests I have ever gotten in one day is perhaps Three.

So 15 requests in one day is off the charts.  Are you guys connected in any way?


-----Original Message-----
From: Aurien Derelyn
Sent: Sunday, January 07, 2007 11:01 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: RE: Einstein puzzle

For a minute there that sounded like a follow-up puzzle of some sort ;)  Maybe you could make an Einstein follow-up out of your mystery!

We're actually not connected in any special way.  At least, we don't know each other at all, but I'm pretty sure I know what the connection is.

There is a add-on for the Firefox webbrowser called 'Stumble Upon'. This is a toolbar that goes right below your main address bar in the web browser. When you're bored, you click a button labeled "Stumble!" and it will take you to another site that fits your interests. These interests were chosen when you installed the add-on and, when you visit a website, you can vote on if you enjoy its content - so the add-on ends up custom tailoring itself to your interests.

The reason I believe you have had such an increase in traffic is that someone found your web site the old fashioned way and clicked their thumbs up button, listing it with StumbleUpon. This made it accessible to all people who had similar interests to this person.

I also think that your traffic will remain somewhat increased for a while as more people with similar interests find the site with this toolbar. I hope this answers your question. In a way we're 15 complete strangers, yet yes we do share some similar link ;)

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Sanders
Sent: Sunday, January 07, 2007 11:27 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Einstein Puzzle

We are not related in any way that I know of, although I may have an explanation. I use the Mozilla Firefox web browser's add-on StumbleUpon. Users suggest web pages that they liked, and when using it, you can access random web pages that other users suggest for your interests. I came upon your page with this method, and if it was newly nominated, that may explain why so many found it at once.

If you find an answer, please let me know, as this intrigues me also.

-----Original Message-----
From: Daniel Mahaffey
Sent: Sunday, January 07, 2007 8:19 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: einstein puzzle

Rick, I don't know these people, but I may have the answer anyway.

StumbleUpon is an add-on for the Firefox browser. You may have heard of it. It is a program that offers up random sites for those of us who are looking for ways to kill time. You click the StumbleUpon button on your Firefox tool bar and, presto, another random site pops up. Users of StumbleUpon add sites they like to the growing list of sites, and benefit from sites added by other users. Your site popped up in my browser when I clicked StumbleUpon. So someone must have added "you" to the set of interesting sites in StumbleUpon's list.

Now you're popular, if not famous. It's not the same as rich, but it's a start. Maybe you can turn this into something prosperous.

If you don't use Firefox (Still using IE? Shame on you.) here is how to get it. http://en-us.www.mozilla.com/en-US/

If you want to check out StumbleUpon, go here: http://www.stumbleupon.com/

Good luck with all this.  Daniel.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, January 07, 2007 2:09 PM
To: Daniel Mahaffey
Subject: RE: einstein puzzle

"Stumble Upon"… that's the answer. I had twelve other people confirm "Stumble" just as you did. Apparently they added my site on January 2 and it all hit at once.

I doubt seriously I will become prosperous, but it is fun to have a page that people enjoy.  I also have a Christmas Puzzle that is on page one of Google… (type "christmas puzzle" into Google and see for yourself).  I take more pride in that one because I made up most of the puzzle myself.

Thanks for helping to clear up the mystery, Daniel. By the way, I have had seven more people check in since my original 15 this morning!   I may need to hire someone to help me keep up.  ;-)














Einstein Letter Eleven - Shawn Kielty Probes the Possible Origins of the Einstein Puzzle

Editor's Note: I doubt my warning above stopped even a single person.  It didn't stop you, now did it?

After all, the X-Files ran for seven seasons just because people stuck around hoping to find the "Truth".  I gave up watching about two years before the show came to an end because I got sick and tired of the endless nonsense about the people with smoke in their eyes and dozens of baffling and often contradictory stories about Muldar's missing sister.  Until they got mired down in the hugely boring "Mythology" episodes, I couldn't wait for the next episode.  In its early years, X-Files was incredibly fun to watch!

However, that's another story.  I am about to reveal the truth about the Einstein Puzzle. If you have made it this far, you are obviously a BIG FAN of the Einstein Puzzle.  So this is a big moment for you along the lines of a six-year-old boy asking his Dad about Santa Claus.

Are you ready for this?  You can still change your mind.

Okay, here goes: On Friday, December 2, 2005, I received this email from Shawn Kielty.

-----Original Message-----
From: Kielty, Shawn
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 9:26 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: einstein versus zebra

Hi Rick-
I enjoyed your comments on the Einstein Puzzle -- did you know some claim that this is the Zebra Puzzle published in 1968 by readers digest?

I had heard the Zebra Puzzle mentioned a few years earlier in 2004.  That year I approached Mr. Janzen, my daughter's math teacher, about giving the Einstein Puzzle to his Seventh Grade class as a project.  I wanted to see how many 12-year old girls could solve it (Editor's Note: not one of the 20 girls got it in the 40 time frame).  Mr. Janzen looked at my Einstein Puzzle and said it reminded him of the Zebra Puzzle.  I didn't know what he talking about.

Then one day, Mr. Janzen gave me a copy of the Zebra Puzzle.  I took one look at it.  On the spot, I guessed who owned the Fish, uh, I mean the Zebra based on the similarity of the Zebra clues to the Einstein Puzzle.

Mr. Janzen smiled at me. I had gotten the correct answer in 30 seconds.  I took the Zebra Puzzle home. It was similar, but different.  I decided to take the Zebra Puzzle and turn it into a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas Logic Puzzle.

Now Mr. Kielty's email made me curious.  I quickly followed up on the Zebra lead by typing "logic puzzle Zebra Reader's Digest" into Google.

I immediately came up with two hits.  Both sites seemed math-oriented, a sign that they were on the level.

BURT KANNER: Who Owns The Zebra?  (this is the link to Mr. Kanner's site)
December 2005

The first hit I found was written by a man named Burt Kanner. 

Mr. Kanner said this:

Over 20 years ago, in my first year of teaching, I came across a problem in Readers Digest entitled "Who Owns the Zebra?"  This was my first experience with a logic problem and I'm sure that it constituted a turning point in my teaching of mathematics.

I found this problem to be one of those problems that gnawed at me to continue working until its completion. But, once completed, there was a pleasant feeling of accomplishment that made me hunger for more of these logic problems.

Mr. Kanner offered the following clues from his Zebra Puzzle:

On a certain street there are 5 houses, each of a different color and inhabited by men of different nationalities, with different pets, drinks and vehicles. You are to find who drinks the water AND WHO OWNS THE ZEBRA.

  1. The Englishman lives in the red house.
  2. The Spaniard owns the dog.
  3. Coffee is drunk in the green house.
  4. The Ukrainian drinks tea.
  5. The green house is immediately to the right (your right) of the ivory house.
  6. The motorcycle rider owns snails.
  7. A bike is the vehicle of the man in the yellow house.
  8. Milk is drunk in the middle house.
  9. The Norwegian lives in the first house on the left.
  10. The man who rides skateboards lives in the house next to the man with the fox.
  11. The bike rider is in the house next to the house where the horse is kept.
  12. The hang-glider owner drinks orange juice.
  13. The Japanese drives powerboats.
  14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.

December 2005

I got my second Zebra hit at a site created by Bob Ess.  This is what he said:

I solved this problem from Reader's Digest in the 1960s!   Copied / swiped: A simple classic logic problem - "Who Owns the Zebra?"  I believe that this problem is from an issue of Reader's Digest.  I have seen it copied many places.

Here are the clues:

There are five houses, each of a different color and inhabited by people of different nationalities, with different pets (one is a zebra), drinks (one drinks water), and cigarettes.

1. The English person lives in the red house.
2. The Spaniard owns the dog.
3. Coffee is drunk in the green house.
4. The Ukrainian drinks tea.
5. The green house is immediately to the right (your right) of the ivory house.
6. The Old Gold smoker owns snails.
7. Kools are smoked in the yellow house.
8. Milk is drunk in the middle house.
9. The Norwegian lives in the first house on the left.
10. The person who smokes Chesterfields lives next to the house with the fox.
11. The person who smokes Kools lives next to the house with the horse.
12. The Lucky Strike smoker drinks orange juice.
13. The Japanese smokes Parliaments.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.

Questions: Who owns the zebra? Who drinks water?

I compared the clues from Bob Ess and Burt Kanner.  Here are the results:

1. The Englishman lives in the red house.  (Same for both)
The Spaniard owns the dog.   (Same for both)
Coffee is drunk in the green house.  (Same for both)
4. The Ukrainian drinks tea.   (Same for both)
The green house is immediately to the right (your right) of the ivory house.  (Same for both)
The motorcycle rider owns snails.  
A bike is the vehicle of the man in the yellow house.  
Milk is drunk in the middle house.   (Same for both)
The Norwegian lives in the first house on the left.  (Same for both)
The man who rides skateboards lives in the house next to the man with the fox.  
The bike rider is in the house next to the house where the horse is kept.  
The hang-glider owner drinks orange juice.  
The Japanese drives powerboats.  
The Norwegian lives next to the blue house. (Same for both)

On closer inspection, obviously someone who smoked got hold of the Zebra Puzzle and swapped out vehicle clues for Cigarette brands.  The two puzzles were identical.

December 2005

Now compare the Mr. Kanner's clue list above to the clues below taken from the SSQQ Einstein Puzzle:

01. The Brit lives in the red house (Same as above)
02. The Swede keeps dogs as pets 
(The Spaniard became a Swede)
03. The green house owner drinks coffee
(Same as above)
04. The Dane drinks tea
  (The Ukrainian became a Great Dane)
05. The green house is adjacent on the left of the white house 
(Similar, green house moved from right to left)
06. The person who smokes Pall Mall raises birds
(Different from: the Old Gold Smoker owns snails)
07. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill 
(Different from: Kools are smoked in the yellow house)
08. The man living in the house right in the center drinks milk 
(Same as above)
09. The Norwegian lives in the first house 
(Almost same as above)
10. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats
 (Different from: The person who smokes Chesterfields lives next to the house with the fox.)
11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the one who smokes Dunhill
 (Different from: The person who smokes Kools lives next to the house with the horse.)
12. The owner who smokes Bluemaster drinks juice
 (Different from:  Lucky Strike smoker drinks orange juice.)
13. The German smokes Prince 
(Practically identical: The Japanese smokes Parliaments.)
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house 
(Same as above)
15. The man who smokes Blend has a neighbor who drinks water.
 (Here is a mystery: This clue is new.)

(Editor's Note: In my opinion, the clues from the Zebra Puzzle and the Einstein Puzzle are practically identical.)

After reading the websites of Mr. Kanner and Mr. Ess, I was pretty sure I had found the origin of the Einstein Puzzle.

I decided to research some more. Google took me over to Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that lists contributions sent in by its own readers.  I found this site to be very interesting.

Einstein's Puzzle aka the Zebra Puzzle

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Wikipedia Zebra Puzzle
(Editor's Note:  The following article below was copied from Wikipedia.  The Zebra Puzzle is also a well-known logic puzzle with clues nearly identical to the Einstein Puzzle.  So identical in fact that the two puzzles are undoubtedly the same!)

Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

"Einstein's puzzle is a well-known logic puzzle.

It is often called "Einstein's Puzzle" or "Einstein's Riddle" because it is said to have been invented by Albert Einstein as a boy, with the common claim that Einstein said "only 2 percent of the world's population can solve this".  The puzzle is also sometimes attributed to Lewis Carroll ("Alice in Wonderland").  However, there is no known evidence for Einstein's or Carroll's authorship.

There are several versions of this puzzle. Some ask "Who owns the fish?" instead of "Who owns the zebra?"

The version below is quoted from the first known publication in Life International magazine on December 17, 1962.  The March 25, 1963, issue contained the solution given below and the names of several hundred solvers from around the world.

The Original Zebra puzzle (as seen in Wikipedia)

  1. There are five houses.
  2. The Englishman lives in the red house.
  3. The Spaniard owns the dog.
  4. Coffee is drunk in the green house.
  5. The Ukrainian drinks tea.
  6. The green house is immediately to the right of the ivory house.
  7. The Old Gold smoker owns snails.
  8. Kools are smoked in the yellow house.
  9. Milk is drunk in the middle house.
  10. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
  11. The man who smokes Chesterfields lives in the house next to the man with the fox.
  12. Kools are smoked in the house next to the house where the horse is kept.
  13. The Lucky Strike smoker drinks orange juice.
  14. The Japanese smokes Parliaments.
  15. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.

    Now, who drinks water? Who owns the zebra?

    (Note: In the interest of clarity, it must be added that each of the five houses is painted a different color, and their inhabitants are of different national extractions, own different pets, drink different beverages and smoke different brands of American cigarettes. One other thing: In statement 6, right means your right.

    One more thing: the houses are in a row.)

"As a minor point, Einstein almost certainly was not the author of this puzzle. The claim that he was seems to have originated in the 1980s, long after the puzzle was in wide circulation. I think this was a form of advertising for the puzzle since the earliest attributions to Einstein are all in the form "Einstein said that only 2% of the people in the world can solve this puzzle."

I very much doubt that this is the kind of thing Einstein would have said, even if the dates were right. "

Rick Archer's Note:

I don't know about you, but I would bet money we have discovered the origin of the Einstein Puzzle.  

There goes another mythology!   First the tooth fairy, then Santa, then the Easter Bunny, now the Einstein Puzzle.  Can this be true? 

In my opinion, the only mystery left is finding out who reworked the clues and decided to give Einstein the credit for the Zebra puzzle.  He (or she) added that nonsense about only 2% of the population being able to decipher it, then put it in an email and hit 'Send'. 

Whatever the original reasons for the deception might be, the changes worked wonders. Under the illusion that they are deciphering the work of the Master with the guarantee they will confirm their status as "brilliant" if they succeed, people around the world couldn't wait to give the puzzle a try. 

Sure enough, the imposter's scam propelled the Einstein Puzzle into International fame.

The Einstein Puzzle becomes yet another Internet Hoax, but you have to give the anonymous guy or girl credit -
their action made the Zebra/Einstein Puzzle the most famous Logic Puzzle in the world. 

But wait!

Maybe back in the 60s, the person who created the Zebra Puzzle for Reader's Digest copied it from Einstein's original puzzle? 

The Truth may still be out there!  But where?  If you think you know the real answer, be sure to send it to me!

Rick Archer

Last update: August 2, 2007

SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar of Events Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ