Yesterday, that is, the day before I wrote this, I received the English translation of Boris Kordemsky’s “Russian Puzzles” (Matematicheskaia smekalka, which translates as ‘Math savvy’), edited by Martin Gardner. It was first published in 1956. In the first few chapters it contains many old chestnuts, sometimes disguised in a new coat. Though I am not a big fan of Martin Gardner, he did preserve the Russian atmosphere well. Many of the familiar puzzles can also be found in the works of Henry Dudeney and Sam Loyd. Alas Martin Gardner left out a series of problems towards the end related to number theory (‘too difficult for the american public’). Now that that sounds like two insults :).
It inspired me to make a small variation:
“I will plough this field at an average of 200 furrows a day,” Pjotr told his comrades in the Kolkhoz. And indeed he started out right away the next day. He set off relaxed; making just 100 furrows a day on the first 1/3 of the field , but he could blame some initial problems for thet. Once the initial problems were solved, he was able to plough at a speed of 200 furrows a day for the middle 1/3 of the field.
He realized that he was still lagging behind on his promise and made some small improvements, enabling him to complete the final third of the field at 300 furrows a day. At the next meeting of the kolkhoz he told with satisfaction that he had lived up to his promise. The party administrator however denied his claim:
“Tovarisj Pjotr,” he said, “I think you err.”
Who was right?
You can check your solutions here
A new puzzle is posted every Friday. You are welcome to comment on the puzzles. Solutions are added at the bottom of a puzzle after one or more weeks.