Monday, March 3, 2014

Practice Lateral Thinking with Riddle #2: The Salesman and the 3 Daughters

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This a fantastic little riddle I heard from Day9, a popular Starcraft commentator. I'm obviously going to somewhat butcher it by telling it from memory.
There was once an insurance salesman who went door to door trying to sell insurance.
He happened to knock upon a door in a particular cul de sac, and a nice woman opened the door. The insurance salesman then proceeded to talk about how great his insurance is.
The woman stopped him and said, "Hold on. I have a challenge for you. I like my insurance agents to be clever, and if you can answer my question, I will buy your insurance."
The insurance salesman thought about it for a moment and decided to play.
She said, "I have three daughters, and I want you to guess their ages".
"okay", said the agent
"Your first hint is: Their ages multiplied together is 36".
"Okay", said the agent, while trying to think of the possibilities
"Your second hint is: Their ages added together is equal to the number of the house next door"
The insurance saleman excused himself for a moment and went next door. He saw the number of the house, and returned.
"I need one more hint" he said.
She smiled and said, "Your final hint is that my eldest daughter plays piano".
How old are the daughters?
Your immediate response is probably the same response as most people who hear this riddle, "wait, you aren't going to tell me the number of the house next door?"
Nope, you don't need it. You can figure it out without it.
So where do you start?
Here's a suggestion, start with the first hint, and think about it for a moment.
If you're truly stumped and need someone to walk you through the thinking. Maybe start reading the walkthrough a short step at a time. It can be found here.

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