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by Brian Gladman on April 17, 2019

New Scientist Enigma 497 – The Longest Puzzle in the World?

by Keith Austin

Published in issue 1649, 28th January 1989

Hannah, Joan and Sarah each live at a different one of the three houses numbered l, 2, 3. Alan, Michael and Peter each painted a different one of those three houses. Each of the three women met a different one of the three men at the shops.

There are four clues as to who lives where and so on. However, as the clues are very long they are given here only in a condensed form, and so you may wish first to write them out in full, as indicated:

(1) Write out “the man who painted the house of the woman who met, at the shops,” (1988 + the number of the house of the woman met by Peter) times. Write the copies of the repeated phrase one after the other, and then, in from of the first copy, write “Alan is” and, after the last copy, write “Alan.” to make one very long sentence which is the first clue.

(2) This is similar to clue (1), but has “Michael is” at the start and “Peter.” at the end.

(3) Write out “the woman who met, at the shops, the man who painted the house of” (1066 + the number of the house painted by the man who met Hannah) times. Add “Hannah is” at the start and “Joan.” at the end.

(4) This is similar to clue (3) but the repeated phrase is “the house that was painted by the man who met, at the shops, the woman who lives at”. The clue starts with “Number 1 is” and ends with “Number 2.”

What are the facts, that is, who lives where, who painted which house, who met who?

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