Riddle 5 Solution: The House Number!
by William Jackson on 2007-03-22
I can only assume the first person with the correct answer was my father. He left enough clues to indicate he knew the solution, without reporting it directly or giving it away to anyone else. Very clever, Dad.
So, you want three numbers that multiply to get 72. Here are your options:
- 2 2 18
- 2 3 12
- 2 4 9
- 2 6 6
- 3 3 8
- 3 4 6
Update: As Clint pointed out in the comments, there are several more possibilities at this point. I completely left out the cases where one or more daughters are 1 year old. Which is silly of me, because I have nieces and nephews that are 1 year old. I think.
Thankfully, this oversight does not influence the outcome of the riddle.
A few loyal riddlers got to this point and gave me some mouth about needing to know the house number. But you really do not need to know the number. You go look at the house number, but it does not help. But it does! Knowing that the house number does not help actually helps, because now you can narrow your choices down to sets that have the same sum:
- 2 6 6
- 3 3 8
So what does strawberry shortcake have to do with all of this? Answer: nothing. The last piece of important information is the existence of one oldest child. Therefore, the ages must be 3, 3, and 8.
In England, house numbering starts at one end of the street at 1 and continues down one side in numerical order (2, 3, 4, …), then crosses the street and comes back down to the beginning. Therefore, the lowest- and highest-numbered houses are directly across from each other, and there is no “even side” of the street.