John has a problem.  He has been handed 7 pebbles by a friend and told that he has to arrange them so that there are 6 straight lines of pebbles, with each line containing 3 pebbles.

If John cannot solve the puzzle then his friend will murder him.

Can you help prevent John being murdered?

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

1. Katy says:

Got a concept in about 30sec. Another 30sec to draw it and check it worked!

2. Well spent the first few minutes fussing over the fact that we haven’t had to kill anyone or have anyone die in weeks and then here he goes again……man with “friends” like this poor guy who the heck needs enemies…..then took a few seconds to think the answer and about a few more to find paper and then draw it out…..so about one to one and a half minutes.

1. M says:

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

2. Pat says:

I think the technical term is “frenemy”.

3. I got a trivial solution instantly. Still thinking about what the intended solution probably is, so at least a few minutes.

1. Got two solutions now. Probably neither is the one intended, but that’s never really been the point of the Friday Puzzles, has it?

2. And now I think I’ve probably got the intended solution. It’s an extension of my 2nd solution. (As for my 1st solution, it’s debatable whether or not it’s valid.)

4. SlackJawedNut says:

1. SlackJawedNut says:

… of course … if he’s threatening you with death you could always put the pebbles in a sock and hit him over the head with them so he can see stars in lines then leg it while he’s unconscious!!

5. Mark says:

Easy one. I’m thinking John might want to choose his friends more carefully. This one is a psychopath!

1. Jenny says:

That was my thought too. Maybe John is a really unappealing guy, if this is what he calls a friend.

6. @jaclong says:

This so-called friend seems to get mighty angry about trivial things. Lay three pebbles out in a long line that leads to a padded cell and professional help. Once he’s safely contained then demonstrate the solution.

7. Solution after a couple of minutes. A brief detour while pondering whether the lines needed to be straight or not.

8. Ed says:

I have a solution that makes 35 lines of three, but you’re not going to like it…

1. David Wiley says:

I think this would be 35 line segments, not 35 lines.

My solution that uses three pebbles and provides an infinite number of lines is perfectly fine, however. 🙂

9. Wow, that’s a pretty dire consequence for failure. But I guess I’ll get murdered in my sleep because it’s past midnight here in the US and none of my ideas quite work.

1. I did come up with a bunch of 5-line solutions, though, and one that could arguably be considered 35 lines (probably the same as Ed’s) but that just seems too cheap and obvious.

10. Roland says:

Throw all the stones to his psychopathic friend and kill him first…

1. That was my first reaction too.

11. Gareth says:

I did my bit to help by phoning the police and telling them of John’s “friend”‘s nasty threat. They’ll be beating down the door any minute to rescue him.

12. Flippin says:

I would tell John to get better friends.

13. Joao Pedro Afonso says:

1 minute, maybe 2…

1. only four words? You feeling well? :}

2. Joao Pedro Afonso says:

lol

3. OK now down to 3 if you count each as “laugh out loud” …he he he

4. Joao Pedro Afonso says:

yes 🙂

14. T9sus4 says:

A few minutes. Most of those spent pondering the “friend” issue. Why the need for violence? Whatever happened to simple bets for a pint? (A little voice tells me that this was the real meaning of the Friday puzzle. Let’s not forget the whole psychology thing here…)

15. Berber Anna says:

How many dimensions can we use?

up to 6

16. safc4ever says:

Easy. The question is not about how to arrange the pebbles, but how to prevent John beng murdered.

Throw the pebbles at the friend’s head one by one. With 7 tries, the accuracy will improve and eventually incapacitate (or even kill) the friend. A clear case of self-defence.

Of course, if you wish to arrange the 7 pebbles in 6 rows of 3, that is also quite easy – a minute or two to solve.

1. safc4ever says:

Oh, by the way, my name is really John, so I have a bit of a vested interest in this one, as I do not wish to be murdered!

17. sweatynumbthumb says:

I’d get a better class of friend.

18. ivan says:

I instantly got the solution with 35 lines of 3 pebbles, probably the same as FEDragon’s “trivial solution”. Since 35 is 7C3, that is the maximum number of lines possible.

Took a couple of minutes to get a solution with 6 and only 6 lines of 3 pebbles. One can actually deform the angles to any value between 0 and 180 and the lines remain straight, so in one sense it is just one of an infinite class of solutions. Modulo those deformations, I expect it is unique, if the method of generating multiple lines in the “trivial solution” is disallowed.

1. What I called the trivial solution is a possible loophole in the wording of the puzzle, and there’s a good counterargument that it isn’t valid and the puzzle is worded quite adequately. A sufficiently well-paid lawyer, however, could argue otherwise.

19. mittfh says:

I’m intrigued by how many of you are getting six lines (or even thirty five lines) – I can only get numerous variations on a theme of five lines, assuming we’re talking a 2D space and the lines don’t have any kinks in them.

Even laying them out straight, surely that would count as one line of seven pebbles rather than five lines of three?

1. Joao Pedro Afonso says:

35 is probably the number of combinations of 7 pebbles, 3 by 3… obviously, they are thinking on 7 pebbles in a straight line. I agree, that’s cheating, and likely, a violation of the definition, “lines containing 3 pebbles” (even assuming that by that, is intended a segment of a line… which is a assumption I don’t like): only 5, as you said, contain 3 pebbles, all the others will have more.

But is quite possible to have 6 lines in the spirit of the problem.

20. The other Matt says:

…about three minutes. But im not shure how a LINE is defined…

21. Stephen Long says:

LOVE the heightened jeopardy in this week’s puzzle. I hope you guys have the answer right. For John’s sake.

22. I quite like this one. I don’t’ normally dig the geometric ones too much, but this one seemed to flow quite logically and, after a bit of thought, the only reasonable solution seemed to magically present itself to me.

Less than 5 minutes.

23. Beatriz says:

24. Benjamin says:

About 30 seconds. I must say, John’s friend is a might unfriendly.

25. Wolf Martinus says:

Sure. Get a slingshot and and hit that sucker in the head with his pebbles.

As for the geometric problem: easy

26. I liked this one. Tried it for a few minutes, couldn’t get more than 5 lines. Then an hour later, I glanced at my drawings, and it hit me in a flash.

27. D says:

I got THE answer after some 5 long minutes. 🙂

28. BlueHornbill says:

Took couple of minutes. Not very good at geometry, but I got it, YAY!

29. vishal17garg says:

five minutes,,, geometry to help!!!

30. Leick R says:

31. gussnarp says:

Call the police and have the friend arrested, or at least put under a restraining order.

32. I have a method of laying out 7 pebbles which results in 35 straight lines of 3 pebbles.

Of course, the problem is not to provide this, but to stop the fellow being murdered. An entirely different proposition.

1. Sorry, I have the actual answer as well, I just prefer the alternate ones.

33. Just under two minutes. John Just don’t worry, I am coming to your rescue. By the way what’s the name of his friend?

1. safc4ever says:

His friend? Why, that can only be the puzzle-meister himself, Richard Wiseman!

34. Charles says:

I was able to solve after thinking for a few minutes and verifying in drawing software.

And there was no ‘cheating’ involved. No curves, and my solution contains exactly 6 lines of 3, no more and no less. There is no other way to describe the arrangement except as 6 lines of three (except when you describe more complex shapes). What I mean by that is there are no 4-stone lines, etc.

35. Matt says:

well, took me about 6-7 minutes. maybe I’m stupid or not a lyer 🙂

1. @Matt last week everyone was getting the answer in seconds and I mean everyone…..I thought I was going to have to hide under my bed and never face the world again as I didn’t get the answer until 20 looooooong minutes later, but don’t let it bug you really. Don’t lose the fun that is the Friday Puzzle! Just wait til Monday and see who really got what and when…lol…now that just as much fun!

36. armchairdissident says:

Got it, but it took me a while. About 10 minutes.

37. Another quick to solve puzzle. Helped that, by chance as I read this, I had seven coins in front of me. Unsure if I’d haver been as quick if I’d mentally moved things. Probably, but I’ll never know…

38. Norman says:

I don’t get a solution

39. Am I the only one who was fiddling with coins for about half an hour before they got an answer?

Great puzzle though.

40. bletherskite says:

My first solution is to phone the police and having the friend arrested.

Other than that I’m only getting 5 lines. My excuse is a banging sore head so will let it subside and try again tomorrow.

41. Rusty says:

At last! And so relieved the irritatingly rubbish solution wasn’t the real one!

42. Zach says:

his friend will murder him? not much of a friend if you ask me.

43. Ian says:

First time I looked at it I was stumped, but once I visualised putting 6 pebbles down on a flat surface, it clicked. Seconds, the second time. Minutes to give up first time around.

1. Ian says:

Of course I meant 7 pebbles – and 6 lines

44. Rex says:

Oh man this made me laugh.

1. Rex says:

Oh and took me 5 seconds. Ridiculously easy concept.

45. Will says:

Got it in about 10 minutes. Or “eventually”, as it’s also know.

(I also tried using extra dimensions but that resulted in a solution where I went back in time; luckily this allowed me to call for help before my “friend” set the problem. Oh and for some reason I was wearing a Fez) 😛

1. Rusty says:

Fez’s are cool!

46. It took me about 10 minutes, and now that I have the answer, I wonder why I was so slow…

47. Engywuck says:

48. mittfh says:

Presumably a pebble splitting in two as it hits the “friend” in the head, so forming 6 2/2 pebbles would be considered cheating? 🙂

1. if said “friend” lives…..yes it would be cheating…
if said “friend” dies… not cheating and everyone lives happily ever after…. or until next Friday…. :}

49. Jerry says:

One or two minutes. I spent some time looking in my pocket for seven same-sized coins.

50. anch says:

Got it, yay.
Drew lines and moved the circles around.
Maybe 2 min?

51. mick says:

spend 15 minutes yesterday, but got it this morning in less then a minute

52. Berhard says:

a few minutes a few sketches and inter alia a highly symmetric solution..

53. Anonymous says:

For those of you still not able to get this puzzle, here’s a hint: The middle stone of each line needn’t bisect the line segment. In fact, the middle stone of each line bisects only half the lines formed by the intended solution.

54. Marc says:

It’s been over a day and I’m still stumped… 7 coins on the desk aren’t helping. Going to spend them on something LESS FRUSTRATING!!! 😉

55. mittfh says:

I mentioned the problem to an online friend, who said he’d found two solutions. One pointed the way, and the other was definitely not square, hexagonal or even a heptagon.

Of course, mentioning the solution shapes themselves would be a bit of a giveaway, so I haven’t – but you may be able to infer them from my previous paragraph 🙂

56. mol says:

About half of hour. The solution is now so clear that I wonder what took me so long….

57. Got it in moments, but the bigger puzzle is why John is friends with a psychopath….

58. JeeMiNee says:

Applause for all those who solved this puzzle withing the minute or so. It took me 90 minutes of thinking and drawing an a good nights sleep. This morning it stroke me. I made one drawing to check the possible solution. It fits, so I consider this the correct solution with exact six straight lines. All other solutions (3, 4 10, or 35 lines) crossed my drawing board but exact six was hard.

1. Tell me the 10, I didn’t get a 10.

59. Tom says:

I’ve come up with a few answers but i have a feeling they aren’t correct

60. Martha says:

I’ve got an answer that might be the right one, but I’d question the definition of ‘straight lines’. If John’s friend accepted my answer, I’d advise John to murder him for asking such a dodgy question

61. Got it in about 5 minutes of doodling/diddling .

62. Rachelle says:

John has nice friends 🙂

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