A knight arrives at a castle carrying a lance that is five feet long.  The guard tells him that no-one is allowed in the castle with an object that is over four feet long.  The knight is a tad upset, but then has an idea.  He goes into town, finds the local carpenter and asks him to make something.  The knight then returns to the castle and the guard lets him in.  Due to his clever thinking, the knight finds himself inside the castle with his lance.  The lance is fully functioning, and has not been cut in away way.  How is this possible?

As ever, please do NOT post your answer, but do feel free to say if you think you have the solution and how long it took.  Answer on Monday!

91 comments

    1. julio nacen actores espaoles y cientificos ingleses pero en diciembre nacen actores ingleses y cientificos espanoles ! no lo opuesto!! (distinto genotipo por distinto grupo humano conquistador yconquistado) los conquistadores son fertiles en distinto mes y engendran impopulares, militares y gente sin antecedentes mientras que los conquistados engendran populares , presos y libertadores. Esto genera astrologia/signo/profesion

  1. I can think of two answers (one is kind of silly).

    Also, it was very disconcerting to see the Friday Puzzle pop up on what is Thursday evening for me (Alaska, US). The global nature of the internet community still catches me off guard sometimes.

    1. It’s always posted at this time….Note your post time….that is the time in the UK…..I’m in Georgia US and am a night person and am used to it now…lol…most of the time that everyone in the UK are going to lunch I am just going to sleep….so I get an early start!……. :}

    2. It’s late friday night for me in Australia. I usually get here a little earlier.

    1. And nice secret handshake for the ones who found the answer. Next came a 2. What follows?

    2. Actually you mean 6,11 (6’11”). Don’t try and impose your filthy, French, metric system where it’s not wanted. Thank you! ;p

    3. What? I don’t know if you’re giving it away and I’m an idiot, or if that just doesn’t make any sense. “No-one is allowed in the Castle with an object that is over four feet long”. 6.9 feet, 6’11”, either way it’s over four feet long. If this is a word trick, it seems like a stretch to me.

    4. If anything it seems it seems the opposite of a stretch (a shrink)!

      Evidently we’re not giving it away! It’s certainly a puzzle… but solvable, certainly.

    5. I’m an insider and don’t need a secret hand shake to know how to keep thing in the dark…..you might have heard the old saying “out of sight….out of mind” but let’s hope to let others still have fun!

    6. Andy: you are right, i’m used to the metric system. Like everyone in Europe should. Why is Richard still using feet anyway?

    7. Presumably this was in the Middle Ages. If our knight had been in France at the time I suspect he’d have only been allowed objects shorter than 4 pieds (the French – slightly longer – foot) into the castle. But he could have taken in an lance as long as 6 pieds and 11 pounces (1/12th of a pied)…

  2. I can think of two one sort of tricky or sneaky and on slightly questionable…..but got the weekend to thick of more!

    AND I DON’T THINK MAKING IT LONGER IS THE ANSWER BUT EITHER WAY POSTING AN AMSWER IS WRONG AND SHOULD NOT BE DONE.

    1. *think* of more…….. hand to side of head….why can’t we have an edit option…..hey wordpress….love ya but why can’t we have edit on post replies?…….just mumbling to myself…..

    2. Good googly goo! Blast it I found an other typo in my original post!!!! What the heck was wrong with me….and hadn’t even had a drink yet! “and on slightly” should have read “and *one* slightly” darn now I do need a drink!

  3. I hate lateral thinking puzzles, so I took a little more on this one… around one minute? Certainly not more than a minute and an half. I would have be more precise if I believed I was going to solve it… to my surprise, I did, much to the merit of the particular numbers chosen by Richard. Nice puzzle!

  4. I solved it in about half a minute. Nice puzzle!

    The knight would get away with it even if the guard put a 3 feet limit.

    1. OMG! I’ve got it after 5 mins!
      I was thinking the same about the limit 😉

  5. Well within 30 seconds I had 3 solutions to it. One I have to say seems to be very clever 🙂 Yey for me. Still I prefer riddles with one solution. Then I can stop thinking 🙂

    1. To find only three solutions to a puzzle which has an infinite number of them is not very… flattering. 😀

  6. I’ve got a couple of sneaky answers to it but sure it’s actually much more straightforward. Think I’m thinking in too wibbly wobbly a way. Will mull it over some more.

  7. Oh I’ve thought of two more as long as using magic and pixie dust is OK……and I know that there is a pixie dust shop is next door to the carpenter’s shop!

  8. Saw this years ago on a Johnny Ball show. But I think that when you take the thickness of the wood into account the ‘solution’ will be longer than 4 feet

  9. Got an answer pretty immediately, but due to its inherent practical ambiguity, I wasn’t really sure at first.

  10. I got a solution in about 30 seconds, but it relies on the guard not being terribly bright (or at least not knowing much geometry).

  11. My solution depends on the guard being a bit dopey, and doesn’t require the carpenter to touch the lance at all.

    1. I think I came up with the same solution. Probably not the “obvious” one that most others seem to have come up with, but it’s the one that immediately occurred to me.

  12. Did this happen in the middle of summer? Just thinking, if only 4 foot objects got through the doors, they’d have had to have short knights.

    I’ll get me cloak.

  13. I’m pretty sure, he also asked the carpenter to paint “Long live the bureaucrats!” on it, when they were done. xD

    1. Yes, it can. Although it’s a normal knight’s ton carrier horse, the castle is at Diskworld, where light is barely faster than a man’s walking (where else can exist now a castle and a knight?). The problem is, the guard is obviously going to demand him to be at rest to measure the lance. Or he might try to walk along with the knight to measure it but then, the ruler will shrink too. Or, he might demand the knight to keep the lance vertical and use the gate height as rule of passing… relativistic speed will not help then. 😀

  14. The knight gets the carpenter to build him a small box with a slot in the top. He then gets some paint and writes on the box “Tether your horses here. 3 groats / hour” and attaches the box to the handle (non-sharp) end of the lance.
    He approaches the castle and is stopped by the guard again with the usual “Oi, you can’t bring that in ‘ere! It’s well over four feet long!”
    The knight gets off his horse and thrusts the lance down into the ground, sharp end first so it’s standing with its new box at the top.
    “Of course I can take it in,” he explains to the guard, tying his horse’s reins around the lance and dropping 3 groats through the slot. “It’s just a meter…”

    1. What a horrible pun! I like the way you think.
      But please, let’s not subject the horse to any drug smuggling techniques.
      I figured the answer while reading the question.

    2. More puns!
      Had the phrasing been that no-one is allowed in the castle with an object that is “over four feet”, he could simply have dismounted the horse, thus resulting in himself and the lance no longer being “over four feet”.

      (Or would it perhaps be hooves?)

  15. About half a second for me, like many of the others. The knight then went on the create the carry-on limits for today’s airlines.

    1. Yep, and he is related to my brother’s sister-in-law’s cousin’s uncle’s friend Egor who also developed the zig-zag-zig wait in line method so as to maximize the number of people who can stand in the least amount of space and still be ignored.

  16. Would be greater fun if the knight had a limited budget to spend on the carpenter’s time and materials 🙂

  17. As well as getting the standard answer, I thought of two others. Put simply, general relativity removes the need for the carpenter.

  18. I wouldn’t need the carpenter, just hold it sideways and say it’s 5 feet wide
    😛

    Ok I know the answer and I also have a second one if the guard is a bit dumb

  19. I note what the guard said and the convenient length of the lance, so I think I got it. Been thinking about it on and off all day.

    Chris

  20. Why do some f**kwits insist on giving the answer away in the comments every week??

    Almost as annoying as the people who always claim to have got the correct answer in 0.1 seconds.

    1. You are so right on both! And I’ll add that equally annoying are the ones who agree with everything everyone says too! Don’t you agree?………lol…. :}

    2. I know. It’s mostly just people who want to be sure we know that they really really did get it and are totally smart. My solution has been to simply not read the comments until I’m sure I’ve solved it or I’m sure I won’t.

    3. That’s my solution too. Actually, I only read the comments AFTER write mine. That way, the rest is only fun with everyone.

      But I think in this puzzle, people has been more discrete. I only saw two giveaways so far (not exactly solutions but hints) and one of them was after your @amorphous comment.

    4. On second thoughts, we, as a group, are very silly. Someone solves instantaneously the puzzle and then offers an hint… why in the hell, if the puzzle are so easy that many solve it under a minute or little more (when they don’t say seconds), do people need hints in that situation?

      As a way of proving they did indeed the puzzle, I like the secrete handshake technique started by @M, better. There is at least two levels of solutions to this puzzle, and to be a bean hater doesn’t mean someone will be private to the deeper solution. We’ll surely talk more about this tomorrow, when those two levels of understanding will became apparent.

  21. I knew the answer the moment I read the question. A long time ago a Greek friend of mine helped me find the answer to a similar problem.

  22. Instantly, in fact before completing the question, so a negative interval!
    Time travel?

  23. If the answer is what it seems to be, the guard is a poor one at that. In fact, no matter the solution (unless it’s word play or “lateral thinking” — ugh), if the guard can be duped as such, then the security at the castle need serious help.

    1. you mean that knight and his lance tried to take his fishing pole with him on a bus? Wow that knight sure does get around!

  24. Omg, I think I figured it out! Like, in a second. Usually I have to get a piece of paper and diagram or graph or whatever to get to a confident answer, but I think I have it! Yay!

  25. For those unable to get the answer, here’s a hint.

    SPOILER ALERT after the break!
    ********************************************

    Hint: Assuming optimal conditions, the object the knight had the carpenter make need only be a little under three feet to a side.

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