Friday, November 30, 2012

The Good Soldier Schweik and valet's dead grandmother.

Have you heard of a Good Soldier Schweik? It is a fictional character created by a Czech writer Jaroslav Hasek in 1914 but still popular all around the world for his naive nature combined with the ability to survive in the face of adversity and absurd situations.
At some point in the book Schweik demonstrates such enthusiasm in serving the Emperor that his sanity is questioned and he appears before the medical board. He is asked by the certified psychologists:
"Is radium heavier than lead?"
"Please sir, I haven't weighed it," answered Schweik with his sweet smile.
"Do you believe in the end of the world?"
"I'd have to see that end first," Schweik answered nonchalantly. "But certainly I shan't see it tomorrow."
"Would you know how to calculate the diameter of the globe?"
"No, I'm afraid I wouldn't," answered Schweik , "but I'd like to ask you a riddle myself, gentlemen. Take a three-storied house, with eight windows on each floor. On the roof there are two dormer windows and two chimneys. On every floor there are two tenants. And now, tell me, gentlemen, in what year the valet's grandmother died?"
So, can you solve this Schweik's puzzle or you agree with the medical board that certified him as insane?
What if you were whispered another condition: the year that valet's grandmother died is equal to a product of a number of house windows by a number of house chimneys by the age of one of the tenants (age in the year 1914 when the book was written), tenant that was actually present at this funeral.  What year valet's grandmother died?
Submit your answer any time until midnight Eastern Time on Sunday, on our Family Puzzle Marathon.

This puzzle is from the Russian Journal Kvant.


Anonymous said...

from TracyZ

The year that the valet's grandmother died =
(number of house windows) * (number of house chimneys) * (age of tenant in 1914)

number of house windows = 26 (3 stories * 8 windows/story + 2 dormer windows in attic)
number of house chimneys = 2

We don't know age of the tenant yet, but we know that she must have been alive in 1914, and that she was alive at the time of the valet's grandmother's funeral (before 1914).

The tenant's age must be between 35 and 40. Age 35 would mean the grandmother's funeral was held in 1820 (26 * 2 * 35), but the tenant wasn't alive then. If the tenant is 40 years old, then the grandmother's funeral would be held in 2080 (26 * 2 * 40), which hasn't happened yet. My estimate is that the tenant had her 37 birthday in 1914 (and was between 36 and 37 years old at the time that the puzzle was written).

Ilya said...

There are 8*3+2 = 26 windows in the house. With two chimneys, this means the year we are looking for is a multiple of 52. Let's look at some possible values preceding 1914. The latest possible is 52*36=1872, but that precedes 1914 by 42 years, which means the tenant could not be at the funeral being only 36 in 1914. Going to an earlier date does not help because that makes our tenant even younger in 1914. Going to a future date like 1924 contradicts the conditions of the problem since it's stated that the grandmother already died as of 1914. So there is no solution to this using whole numbers. We could consider using fractions, which could in fact yield a range of answers, but we can't do that precisely because we don't know the exact date in 1914 when this is taking place.

Anonymous said...

There are 26 windows times 2 chimneys times A (age of tenant). 2 times 26 = 52. Divide year 1914 and 36 is the number you will get without going over the year 1914. Multiply 52 times 36 = 1872, the year the granny died. 1914 - 1872 = 42 or the present age of the tenant.


Jerome said...

What a delightful character!!! I'd like to meet such a person.

I have a solution, but I don't know if will work. At the time of the valet's grandmother's death, the tenant was 6 years old. That way, we take 6 off 1914. That brings us to 1908.

The formula is
52y = 1914 - y
53y = 1914
y = 36.1132

So he was just born when the valet's mother just died. I hope this is not supposed to be an integer solution.

What year was her death? 1914 - 36.1132 = 1877.8864

Anonymous said...

from Kim via email:

Maria, I see that everybody is catching up to me! Time to get back into it! :-)

I can't seem to submit my answer (and just noticed that my answer from last week didn't show up). I'm assuming it's not working because even the Preview button doesn't return anything. Not sure if it's my Browser, or what. In any event, here is my answer for this week:

What do we know:

8 windows per floor
3 floors
+ 2 dormer windows
2 chimneys

Year of Death = # of windows * # of chimneys * age of a tenant

# of windows = 8*3+2=26
# of chimneys = 2
# windows * # chimneys=52

So Year of Death = 52 * Age of Tenant in 1914

The tenant needs to have been born in the years between their (1914-Age) and 1914

So let's take an example. If the Tenant is 35 in 1914, then they were born in 1879. 52*35=1820, so they wouldn't have been born yet, and couldn't have attended the funeral.

If the tenant is 36, then they were born in 1878. 52*36=1872, so they also wouldn't have been born yet and couldn't have attended the funeral.

If the tenant is 37, then they were born in 1877. 52*37=1924. That's off in the future, so there wouldn't have been a funeral yet!

If we allow fractions for the tenant, then we could try 36.5

If they were 36.5, then they would have been born in 1877 or 78, and the death year would be 52*36.5=1898.

That would be within their lifetime, and a possible solution.

However, 36.25, as an example, works as well, so there are multiple solutions, and we can't provide a definitive answer.


Maria said...

You all did a great job with non-integer numbers.

Now I should admit that I screwed up with this puzzle.
I originally saw this puzzle in Russian and the house that the Good Soldier Schweik talked about had four floors.
I checked that the puzzle is solvable:
8 windows per floor x 4 floors + 2 roof windows = 34 windows total
34 windows x 2 chimneys = 68
this number multiplied by the age of one tenant (in 1914) gives the year of grandma's funeral

this year should be less than 1914 (book was written) and probably more than 1850 (tenant present at the funeral is still alive)

1914/68 = 28.15
so, lets try age 28: 68 x 28 = 1904
tenant that is 28 years old in 1914 was present at valet grandmother's funeral in 1904 when he was 18.

But wait, this was a puzzle in Russian. Instead of translating the words of Soldier Schweik myself I found an English-language website containing it but I didn't notice that in English the number of floors in the house was three and not four. With 3 floors, as you all showed it is impossible to find an integer age of a tenant that when multiplied by the number of windows and chimneys gives a reasonable year. You were very smart to note it.

More and more references contained three floor house rather than four. I was panicking. How can we make this puzzle produce elegant integer solution with three floors?
Then I noticed that if we change the whispered words slightly it works beautifully:"the year that valet's grandmother died is equal to a product of total number of house windows and chimneys by the age of one of the tenants (age in the year 1914 when the book was written), tenant that was actually present at this funeral. "

Now we have 3 floors x 8 windows + 2 roof windows + 2 chimneys = 28
From the above we already know that 28 x 68 = 1904
tenant that is 68 years old in 1914 was present at valet's grandmother's funeral in 1904 when he was 58.

Either way, valet grandmother's funeral was in 1904.

Sorry about the confusion, I deserve some spanking, but everyone who answered a puzzle point.

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