Only 2% of People Can Solve Einstein’s Riddle

January 6, 2016 | Elizabeth Knowles

black and white photo of Einstein with the quote "the value of achievement lies in the achieving."
Photo credit: Quotes Everlasting/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) Image has been cropped

Are you one of them?

The history of this puzzle, which was published by the Guardian, and its variations that frequently make their way around the Internet is a little fuzzy. But, according to popular history, Einstein created the original version when he was a child and only 2 percent of people can solve it.

Here it is:

Five people live in five differently colored houses with their five different pets, enjoy different types of coffee, and use different modes of transportation. The challenge is to figure out who owns the fish using the statements below.

1. Nicola lives in the tartan house.

2. Ed has a guinea pig

3. David drinks mochaccino

4. The paisley house is on the left of the gingham house

5. The owner of the paisley house drinks flat whites.

6. The person who drives by car has a squirrel.

7. The owner of the striped house travels by bike.

8. The person living in the centre house drinks double espresso.

9. Nick lives in the first house.

10. The person who travels by train lives next to the one who has a pitbull.

11. The person who has a badger lives next to the person who travels by bike.

12. The person who travels by plane drinks chai latte.

13. Nigel goes everywhere by foot.

14. Nick lives next to the polka dot house.

15. The person who travels by train has a neighbor who drinks decaf.

I recommend solving it by creating a 5x5 grid and filling it in one square at a time.

Do not read below this point if you want to try solving it on your own first!

The order of the statements is meant to confuse you. Right off the bat, we can look at #8 and #9 to fill in squares C5 and A1 on the grid below. Looking at statement #14, there is only one house next to Nick’s — now we can fill in square B3.

Five by five grid

This is where things get a little more complicated. You have to use statements #4 and #5 together. We know that the paisley house has to be to the left of the gingham house and there are only two columns were this is possible (C and D). But since we know that the person in the paisley house drinks white flats and the person in column C already drinks double espressos, we can put paisley in D3 and gingham in E3.

There are now two types of houses left: striped and tartan. Statement #1 tells us that Nicola lives in the Tartan house, but Nick already lives in one of the unknown houses so that lets us fill in three more squares:

A3: Striped

C1: Nicola

C3: Tartan

Five by five grid

Statement #7 lets us know that Nick travels by bike, and statement #11 tells us that his neighbor (house B) has a badger.

If we try to figure out who drinks chai lattes, we know it can’t be Nicola because she drinks espressos, it can’t be Nigel who travels by foot or Nick who travels by bike because the person we are looking for travels by plane (#12), and it can’t be David because he drinks mochaccino (#3). It has to be Ed.

We still don’t know where to place Ed on the grid though. Houses B, D and E remain. He can’t go in house B because he has a guinea pig (#1) and can’t go in house D because he drinks chai lattes so he goes in house E. Knowing that lets us fill in that entire column.

Five by five grid

Since David drinks mochaccino (#3), he can’t live in house D so he has to live in house B. This leaves Nigel in house D. We can fill in B5 with mochaccino and D4 with foot thanks to statements #3 and #13.

The two transportation squares that are open are B and C, but the person who drives by car has a squirrel (#6) and there is already a badger in B so we can fill in B4, C2 and C4.

A5 is the last drink square open so it has to be decaf.

Statement #10 tells us that Nick must have a pitbull since he lives next to David who travels by train, which leaves Nigel with a fish!

Five by five grid

How did you do? Were you able to figure it out without looking at the solution?

Try this puzzle next: The Sleeping Beauty Puzzle Has Two Contradictory Correct Answers

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