On Friday I set this puzzle……

Two fathers and two sons were seated round a table.  There were four apples on the table.  Each of them took one apple and ate it entirely yet there was still one apple left on the table. How was this possible?

If you have not tried to solve it, have a go now.  For everyone else the answer is after the break.

There were only three persons at the table – a grandfather, his son and his grandson.

Did you solve it?  Any other answers?

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.

39 comments

    1. If I was sat at a table with my mother it would be reasonable to say ‘a mother and daughter are sat at a table’ but if I’m on my own you wouldn’t say ‘a daughter was sat at a table’. The relationships given are in connection with the company they are currently with. As such the grandfather would not be called a son because his father isn’t there.

    2. Anonymous
      Then surely you would say “a grandfather, his son and his grandson were sitting at the table”.
      Granted it wouldn’t make much of a puzzle.

    3. As others have noticed, this is (as worded), an impossible problem as all fathers are sons and there is no mention of a constraint that only sons of those at the table were to be counted. In the case above, there are therefore three sons and two fathers. If there had just been two fathers (and therefore obviously two sons), then there would have been two apples left.

      Of course you might just be able to argue that there was an unmentioned woman at the table who ate the third apple.

    4. @Anonymous

      In a puzzle where word play is key to the “trick”, you don’t get to play it both ways. You don’t get the use the trick of someone being both a father and son with one member of the group and ignore it with another.

      Sorry, Richard doesn’t get to play it both way to fit his answer. It’s a poor puzzle, and this debate was expected when it was posted Friday.

  1. So if the middle or youngest generation was to ask the eldest “Pops, so who are you son to?”, it seems the answer would be “no one”.

    1. Hehehehe Exactly…
      or grandfather/ son was the reult of genetic engeneering…
      Such as Dolly the sheep, and two grandfather sheeps sat at a table…

      So howlong will this riddle still work?

    1. Of course, the apples they’re eating could be a different variety to those that grew on the most infamous tree in history…

  2. My brother, my father and his father once went to a museum and had a family-entry-card for two parents and three kids, so I knew this one from personal experience 😀

  3. This is stretching it even further, but there could have been five apples on the table. It’s still true that there are four apples on the table. And two unrelated father-son pairs could have eaten four apples leaving one.

  4. It was an old chestnut, but there was a trivial way to word it to avoid all this pedantry: “Two fathers were seated around a table with each man’s son. …”

  5. My solution: The four people sitting around the table tried to each allocate themselves an apple, but due to poor concurrent programming two of them fell victim to a race condition and ate the same apple at the same time without noticing.

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