An LSAT student of mine alerted me to the Zebra Puzzle, which he found and sent to me. It’s often called “Einstein’s Puzzle”, and it’s said that Einstein wrote it as a child and “claimed that only 2% of the population would be able to solve it.” It was originally published in Life International Magazine on December 17, 1962, and the contents make it unlikely that Einstein was the actual author, but it’s fun anyway! When my student sent it to me, I actually pulled over on the side of the highway and worked it out for 30 minutes at a gas station because it’s such a cool puzzle. I made a couple of edits, inside brackets, for clarity. The solution to the puzzle can be found here, but try not to look immediately!
- There are five houses [in a row].
- The Englishman lives in the red house.
- The Spaniard owns the dog.
- Coffee is drunk in the green house.
- The Ukrainian drinks tea.
- The green house is immediately to the right of the ivory house [as viewed from the street].
- The Old Gold smoker owns snails.
- Kools are smoked in the yellow house.
- Milk is drunk in the middle house.
- The Norwegian lives in the first house.
- The man who smokes Chesterfields lives in the house next to the man with the fox.
- Kools are smoked in [a] house next to the house where the horse is kept. [The original puzzle says “the” house, but “a” house is more clear.]
- The Lucky Strike smoker drinks orange juice.
- The Japanese smokes Parliaments.
- The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
If one resident drinks water, which is it? If one resident owns a zebra, who is it?
The LSAT includes an Analytical Reasoning section (which we call “Logic Games”) that tests your ability to make deductions and solve problems like the above (but a good deal less complex). If you like problems like this, you might enjoy LSAT prep and going to law school.
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