How Smart Are You?

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Here’s a puzzle that was featured in a Columbo episode we watched last night. Columbo cracked it. Can you? Here it is.

You have three bags full of gold pieces. Two of the bags contain genuine gold pieces weighing one pound each. One contains counterfeit pieces weighing one pound and one ounce each. The only way you can tell them apart is by weighing them.

But all you have is a penny scale and a single penny, so you only get one weighing, no more. Utilizing only your penny and this scale, can you figure out which of the bags contains the counterfeit pieces?

Now the answer to this puzzle is quite simple. “Why didn’t I think of it!” you’ll say, once you know the answer.

Some of you may already know this problem. If you do, don’t spill the beans.

I will reveal the answer after allowing some time for my readers to offer their answers.

And no, I didn’t get it, either! But you and I don’t have the screenwriters on our side.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

6 responses to “How Smart Are You?

  • UnKnowable

    Answer emailed. I don’t know if I was right or wrong, but I didn’t want to spoil it for anyone else, either way.


  • David Ingram

    How about putting two bags on the scale. If it comes out an even two pounds, the fake bag is the one that didn’t get weighed. Subbing at school today I was asked the riddle. Jane takes an elevator from the 9th floor on her way to school. When she comes home she uses the elevator to the 6th floor and then walks the other three flights – why?


    • leeduigon

      But if it doesn’t come out even, you don’t know which of the two bags contains the counterfeit money.
      As for your riddle–well, I’m not good at things like that. I do better if there’s a visual component, like in a chess problem.
      BTW, what happened to your “whiterabbit” avatar?


    • Phoebe

      Jane is too short to reach the buttons above the one for the 6th floor! 🙂


  • Doug (FPS/

    Well, using contemporary “logic”, you convince just one person that all the gold is real; of course the gold is “real” (it’s just that not all of it is “real” gold). Thus endeth the lesson. Screw the facts.


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