It’s the Friday Puzzle!



Please do NOT post your answer, but do say if you think you have solved the puzzle and how long it took. Solution on Monday.

On Christmas Day my brother and I opened our presents, and then noticed a curious coincidence. If I were to give my bother seven of my presents, then I would have exactly as many presents as my bother.  On the other hand, if my brother were to give me seven presents, then I would have exactly twice as many presents as my brother. How many presents did each of us have?

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 on “It’s the Friday Puzzle!

  1. Geraint says:

    Got it, but took a couple of minutes

  2. simontaylor says:

    Got it, and it wasn’t much ‘bother’…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Got it within a minute or so. I wish I had that many presents 🙂

  4. I didn’t actually time myself. couple of minutes tops. Tried to first do it in my head. Mucked up both equations. smh They had quite a few presents under that tree.

    • Stan says:

      I’m afraid most people will get a pencil and paper and then do it the way they learned in school. It would be more fun to try to do it in your head, like Mike tried. But our heads are too small (as Mike discovered) so it would make sense to start by replacing the number 7 with something a lot smaller. Then it amazingly can fit in our heads.

    • Nathan Zwierzynski says:

      Stan’s comment actually indicates the basic structure behind this problem. As long as it is the same and double requirement that is used for every one of these scenarios, the base is the same and all that really changes is that number that is subtracted or added. The result is related directly by that number whether you subtract seven or one. Really interesting. Thanks Stan.

  5. Eddie says:

    Molest me not with this pocket calculator stuff.

  6. Baker's Dozen says:

    Thanks, but if I want a maths exam I’ll re-sit my A Levels.

  7. Roland says:

    Next…………year that is.

    Richard Wiseman wrote:

    > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ Richard Wiseman posted: ” Please do NOT post your answer, but do say if you think you have solved the puzzle and how long it took. Solution on Monday. On Christmas Day my brother and I opened our presents, and then noticed a curious coincidence. If I were to give my bother “

  8. carlosnz says:

    Solved it. You both have way too many presents. Go donate some to charity. 🙂

  9. Anonymous says:

    about 3 mins with pen and paper

  10. The Masked Twit says:

    I can’t be brothered to solve this puzzle.

  11. Jono says:

    A few minutes maximum, did it in my head to start and then double checked my answer with simultaneous equations.

  12. Merlin says:

    Tried in my head but too difficult. Wrote out the simultaneous equations and solved it. Thank you.

  13. I Claudius says:

    2 mins: (i) looked for obvious shortcut/trap (ii) figured out the equations, (iii) solved using longhand — I’m too rusty to do this in my head nowadays.

    @Bakers Dozen. I did my GCEs 47 & 45 yrs ago, so I find these useful by forcing me to actually make use of what was then in the O level syllabus. Has this really been upgraded to A level, or was that written in error?

  14. Lazy T says:

    Snap ! One year my bro’ and I got the same, we played all afternoon (we included the jokers of course).

  15. ctj says:

    if either of your or your brother had actually received that many presents, i highly doubt you would notice that “curious coincidence.”

    the puzzle is far more plausible (and curious) if the same ratios are retained but only one gift is exchanged.

    • Anon says:

      I got 5 & 7 in answer to your puzzle ctj. I fear that I have got the wrong answer, however, as you would hardly call 5 and 7 curious would you?
      Or perhaps I am lacking an enquiring mind?

  16. Stewart says:

    5 minutes with no “bother”.

  17. Alma says:

    Too hard to use your brain that much over the Festive period. 🙂

  18. rmb says:

    Two minutes.

  19. John says:

    No Bother.

  20. Ken Haley says:

    In my head, in about 2 minutes. I used the trick already mentioned above…pretend it’s only one present given instead of 7.

  21. L.Long says:

    Just count each others presents and stop trying to turn everything into a Rube Goldberg contest. But I did find the answer too.

  22. Ronald Lett says:

    You guys have *way* too many presents. 😀

  23. foldegzül e kildeglul. Bah humbug.

  24. Misha says:

    algebra 😉

  25. Anonymous says:

    40 seconds

  26. S. Keg says:

    For some annoying reason I can’t isolate me or the brother using simultaneous equations. I nearly did, but ended up proving that 14 equals 14. Giving up and waiting for answer on Monday.

  27. VicinCA says:

    A couple of minutes with simultaneous equations. :>)

  28. Walter says:

    Did it first with simple math (two variables with two equations), then realized the obvious solution, could have done it more easily by replacing 7 with 1 and then multiply the result by 7.

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