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The Missing Copper Piece

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  • The Missing Copper Piece

    Here is a long one, but fun one, I remember from college.

    A very long time age, three weary travelers came upon a rather rundown looking inn just before they were going to make camp. Encouraged by the rapidly growing dark rain clouds and the not so distant sound of thunder, the men decided to spend the night in the inn.

    Greeted by warm yet odorous smelling air, as well as an overweight innkeeper, the three men entered the inn and asked for a room.

    "You are in luck." The innkeeper informed them. "I have one room left and it happens to have three comfortable cots in it. The cost for one night is 30 copper pieces."

    As fate would have it each traveler had 10 copper pieces. They decided to pool the last of their funds for the room since they would be home in another day or two and had enough food in their packs.

    After receiving his 30 copper pieces, the innkeeper pulled out the room key and called the bellboy to show the men to their room. The bellboy then took the three travelers' packs and led them up a flight of creaky steps to the second floor, down a short hallway and to their room.

    When the bellboy returned to the front desk the innkeeper told him "Bellboy, go back up to those three men and give them these 5 copper pieces. Tell them I am sorry but I just remembered that room has a leak in the roof and I was meaning to lower its cost to 25 copper pieces a night. I am an honest man and will not cheat them." The innkeeper then gave the boy the 5 copper coins.

    The bellboy took the coins and started up the stairs thinking "How am I going to divide 5 coins between three men?". He decided to keep two of the copper pieces as a tip and give each man one copper piece back. That would work out best.

    Once at the room the bellboy gave each man one copper piece back and told them that the innkeeper mistakenly overcharged them for the room, on account of it having a leaky roof and all.

    Now each of the men had one copper piece. That means they each paid 9 copper pieces for their room, which equals 27 ( 9x3=27), plus the two that the bellboy took as a tip only equals 29 (27+2=29). Since they each came into the inn with 10 copper pieces (10x3=30) what happened to the missing copper piece? The bellboy has 2 and they paid 27 (9 each, 3 of them, 9x3=27) which adds up to only 29 (27+2=29)! And we know that they came in with 30 (10 each, 3 of them, 10x3=30) so what happened to the 30th copper piece!!!!

    And do not tell me the bellboy dropped it on his way up the stairs as some have tried to do in the past.

  • #2
    took me a while to figure this one out. there is no missing piece. the two the bellhop kept is part of the 27 that the men paid, so 27 paid - 2 bellhop kept = 25 innkeeper kept. 25 innkeeper + 2 bellhop+ 3 travelers were returned = 30. the wording threw me for a bit

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    • #3
      Good job. The wording is supposed to throw you. The fact that the bellboy TOOK 2 means it must be subtracted and then there is the switching of the final total from 30 to 25 which the riddle conveniently skips over. It is a beautifully deceptive math riddle though.

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