Stupefied: Reimagining a “Sorcerer’s Stone” Riddle

We’re all aware of a particular potions riddle that was featured in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (that sadly was not a part of the movie). But did you know that it was actually a somewhat simplified version of a much more famous and mind-bending riddle?


Earlier this year, Alex Bellos over at the Guardian commented on Einstein’s ever-resurfacing riddle and its associated claim that only two percent of the world is allegedly capable of solving this. Since that percentage is (probably) in line with the number of Potter fans across the globe, we thought you all might like to give it a shot. According to the riddle:

There are five houses with the outside walls painted in five different ways. David, Ed, Nick, Nicola and Nigel each live in one of the houses. They each drink a certain type of coffee, have a preferred mode of transport and keep a certain pet. No owners have the same pet, the same preferred mode of transport or drink the same type of coffee.

Based on the following, who owns the fish?

1. Nicola lives in the tartan house.
2. Ed has a guinea pig.
3. David drinks mochaccino.
4. The paisley house is on the left of the gingham house.
5. The owner of the paisley house drinks flat whites.
6. The person who drives by car has a squirrel.
7. The owner of the striped house travels by bike.
8. The person living in the center house drinks double espresso.
9. Nick lives in the first house.
10. The person who travels by train lives next to the one who has a pit bull.
11. The person who has a badger lives next to the person who travels by bike.
12. The person who travels by plane drinks chai latte.
13. Nigel goes everywhere by foot.
14. Nick lives next to the polka dot house.
15. The person who travels by train has a neighbor who drinks decaf.

Still not helpful? Well, as Alex points out:

For the sake of clarity: the houses are adjacent to each other in a line, and the directions are from the perspective of someone looking at the houses. And any resemblance of David, Ed, Nick, Nicola and Nigel to the party leaders is purely coincidental. You have to solve this problem by logic, not by having had a coffee with any of them.

Stupefied? May the spirit of Hermione be with you all.