Puzzle #5: Smith, Jones and Robinson

By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | September 25, 2018

A puzzle posed by British puzzler Henry Ernest Dudeney. It was published in the Strand magazine in April 1930.

Smith, Jones and Robinson are the driver, fireman and guard on a train, but not necessarily in that order. The train carries three passengers, coincidentally with the same surnames, but identified with a “Mr.”: Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith and Mr. Robinson.

Mr. Robinson lives in Leeds.
The guard lives halfway between Leeds and Sheffield.
Mr. Jones’s salary is £1,000 2s. 1d. per annum.
Smith can beat the fireman at billiards.
The guard’s nearest neighbour (one of the passengers) earns exactly three times as much as the guard.
The guard’s namesake lives in Sheffield.

What is the name of the engine driver?

The salary amount of £1,000 2s. 1d., or one thousand pounds, two shillings and one penny, is significant only in that it is not evenly divisible by three.


[Answer to Puzzle #5 to follow in the next Puzzle]


Solution to Puzzle #4: Charlemagne’s Puzzle

Alcuin’s original solution involved seven steps:

  1. Take the sheep over
  2. Return – the sheep is on one side and the wolf and cabbage are on the other
  3. Take the cabbage over
  4. Return with the sheep – the cabbage is on one side and the sheep and wolf (and farmer) are on the other
  5. Take the wolf over
  6. Return – the wolf and cabbage are on one side and the sheep is on the other
  7. Take sheep over – all three have crossed over

Thus there are seven crossings, four forward and three back.

This river-crossing puzzle has spawned many “cosmetic” variations, such as fox, goose, and beans, and has appeared in the folklore of many lands. It appeared in the Simpsons episode Gone Maggie Gone with Homer Simpson trying to shuttle Maggie, Santa’s Little Helper, and a Jar of Rat Poison that Looked like Candy.

One of our more “waggish” commenters suggests a cosmetic variation of a selectman, a taxpayer, and the taxpayer’s money.

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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