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Can you solve Einstein’s puzzle? February 19, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , ,

“My IQ is just one point below Einstein’s!” a friend announced recently. This comment kept gnawing at our friend Ben, and finally I consulted Google to see what I could find on the subject of Einstein and IQ. As I suspected, Einstein never took an IQ test, so nobody really knows his IQ. But my friend, whose IQ is 177, wasn’t just engaging in idle boasting, either: Most estimates place Einstein’s IQ between 178 and 180.

However, as our friend Ben was looking for Einstein’s IQ, I came upon something intriguing that I think you’ll enjoy. Listed most frequently as “Einstein’s IQ Test,” it’s actually an exercise in deductive reasoning, aka a puzzle, supposedly invented by Einstein for his students. It presents a hypothetical situation, provides clues, and then poses a question that you’re supposed to answer based on the data you’ve been given. (And yes, it is possible to solve it; our friend Ben did it, but only, I admit, after diagramming it.)

Our friend Ben has no idea if Einstein actually developed this puzzle, or if it somehow became attached to his name in the manner of an urban legend, but I enjoyed working it out and think you will, too. Ready to get started? Here we go:

                Einstein’s Puzzle

The data:

* There are five houses in five different colors.

* In each house lives a person with a different nationality.

* These 5 owners drink a certain type of beverage, smoke a certain type of cigar, and keep a certain type of pet.

* No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar, or drink the same drink.

The question:

Who keeps fish?

The clues:

1. The Brit lives in a red house

2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets

3. The Dane drinks tea

4. The green house is on the left of the white house

5. The green house owner drinks coffee

6. The person who smokes Pall Mall keeps birds

7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill

8. The person living in the house right in the middle drinks milk

9. The Norwegian lives in the first house

10. The person who smokes Blend lives next door to the one who keeps cats

11. The person who keeps horses lives next door to the one who smokes Dunhill

12. The owner who smokes Blue Master drinks beer

13. The German smokes Prince

14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house

15. The person who smokes Blend has a neighbor who drinks water

Have fun and good luck! Remember, the point of the exercise is to determine who keeps fish. You can do it! (And no, there’s no “score” or IQ ranking associated with this puzzle, which is why our friend Ben was puzzled—pardon the pun—as to why it’s known as “Einstein’s IQ Test.”)



1. Dr. Huma Ibrahim - February 19, 2010

I have always found puzzles infuriating that is why I will probably suffer from senility.

Ha! The only ones I like are the ones that employ logic to find the solution, which is why I enjoyed this one. Otherwise they infuriate me as well!

2. mr_subjunctive - February 19, 2010

Wouldn’t it make more sense just to go on Google Maps to find the houses in question, then look up the phone numbers from the addresses, call them one at a time, and ask them each if they have fish?

Ha!!! Or maybe just break into all the houses and see for yourself…

3. Dave@TheHomeGarden - February 19, 2010

I think I’ll have to come back when I have more time! I can see where the diagram would be helpful!

Definitely, Dave! And there was no way I could work this out without the diagram. Too much to keep sorted out in my head!

4. Gail - February 19, 2010

Well one thing’s for certain~It sounds like an interesting and diverse neighborhood. Too bad they are smokers! gail

Awww, no, Gail, we love the smell of cigars and pipe tobacco! As long as nobody’s asking US to smoke them and nobody’s smoking those foul-smelling, tear-inducing cigarettes! Any idea what’s up with Blotanical, btw? It’s still down, and I’m getting nervous…

Elephant's Eye - February 19, 2010

Jean says computers always take longer than you think. She reckons it’ll take Stuart a week. Monday?

Thanks, Diana! I feel better now…

5. Anna - February 20, 2010

oh..that’s one hell of a puzzle. Have you been able to solve it? Speaking of IQ, I had taken this IQ test at http://www.3smartcubes.com and it came to be 138. Nowhere near Einstein..but above average! 😛

Ha! I think an IQ of 138 provides you with all the brains you need, Anna! If memory serves, you even qualify for Mensa. Thanks for the link—I can never resist a free IQ test! And yes, I did solve the puzzle, but only after diagramming it!

6. Amanda - April 23, 2010

And what was thw answer??

Well, I didn’t really want to say on the post, since some people might want to figure it out for themselves, but since somebody’s come on with the answer, see below.

7. Amanda - April 23, 2010


Got that, no worries.

8. azad - April 26, 2010



9. gabriel - September 5, 2011

can someone solve it using IP?

10. tommy - January 27, 2012

I solved it in about 20 minutes, is this about the average time it takes? Should I apply to mensa now hahaha

11. Kishalay - March 16, 2012

The man living near the pond keeps fish

12. Rahul (will see u) - September 6, 2012

The correct ans is
may be german owned fish but we cant be sure coz there r no enough information abt this. I realy suprised that ben with iq of 177 unable to figure it out. Not me as well coz i also see ans .

13. Rahul (will see u) - September 6, 2012

U r liear no one can solve this atleast before 35 minutes.

14. baby nursery set - February 15, 2013

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I have a blog based upon on the same information you discuss
and would love to have you share some stories/information.
I know my readers would enjoy your work. If you are
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