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The Captive Assassin

Trick brain teasers appear difficult at first, but they have a trick that makes them really easy.


Puzzle ID:#12268
Fun:*** (2.93)
Difficulty:*** (2.13)
Submitted By:Puzzled_Puzzler**
Corrected By:annvie9




Listo, the leader of a band of assassins, was taken captive by an opposing kingdom. "Give your daggers," said one of the generals, "Or you are to be executed. But since you killed so many of our knights, we shall give you a small test. You must say a statement. If the statement is true, we burn you on a stake. If the sentence is false, we stab you through the heart. If you do not say anything, you are thrown to the lions. If you say something we can't verify, you will be forced to drink a cup of hemlock. If it is not a statement or if it is a paradox, we simply toss you into the nearby volcano. We shall give you one hour to ponder."

What should Listo say?

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(user deleted)
May 21, 2003

Yeah, me too, I don't quite get this one. I would have said: "Hey, look at that distraction!"
May 21, 2003

I disagree. The asnwer is right in front of you, if you read it properly it's easy. further explanation as to length of response would distract from the answer.
This was a lot of fun.
May 25, 2003

"Hey, look! A rock!"
May 25, 2003

JessicaG is correct. The answer is in the first few sentances, and everything else is to throw you off track. Oh, and "Look, a Rock" Would still kill you.
(user deleted)
May 27, 2003

Please can someone explain this one to me, I still don't get it. You say the answer is in the first few sentences, but I count only three. If Listo says "Here are my daggers" and hands over his daggers he's telling the truth and must by the rules be burned at the stake. If he says "Here are my daggers" and does not hand over his daggers, he's lying and must be stabbed through he heart. If Listo says nothing and hands over his daggers he must be thrown to the lions.
May 27, 2003

If you look at the first sentances, anonymous, you may notice it is "give your daggers OR you are to be executed." Thus, if he hands over the daggers, no matter if or what he says, everything after the OR takes effect.
(user deleted)
May 27, 2003

Thanks for the taking time in replying. Perhaps I would understand better if you could point why an answer of "Hey, look at that distraction!" does not fit? You say that it doesn't matter what is said... er what was the question again?
May 28, 2003

Saying, "Hey, look at so and so!" won't work either, as either theres something there and it is true, or something is not their and its false.
May 30, 2003

I was irritated by this answer until I read the comments. Then it made sense. I was so busy focusing on the options I overlooked the real question. Good one! =)
Jun 02, 2003

I thought it was brilliant...
Jun 04, 2003

The Teaser States:
"...If it is not a statement or a paradox, we simply toss you into the nearby volcano. We shall give you one hour to ponder."

Therefore, he could have said a paradox. Because they would throw him into a nerby volcano if he didn't say a statement or didn't say a paradox. So, therefore, he could say something like, "You will stab me!" If it's true, it's false, and if it's false, it's true. It can be verified as being "depending on what I do" so therefore he can keep his daggers.
Jun 04, 2003

Okay, Maybe I had poor wording.

"If it is not a statement or (if it is) a paradox..."

Sorry about that.
Jun 08, 2003

There is a major logical error in this teaser. The statement "Give us your daggers or you will be executed." does not mean "Give us your daggers and you will not be executed.” It just means that if you do not give the daggers you will certainly die. Think of the case were a cop tells you "Drive the speed limit and you will not get a ticket". Does that mean if you run a red light driving the speed limit you will not get a ticket? No it doesn't, so please do not try it. In the case of this teaser the next thing the General says is "But since you killed so many knights...." So it is even clearer that there are other conditions to consider, such as the fact that the assassin killed so many knights and must face a test.

The answer to this teaser must be saying something like "The weight of the General's (or King's) brain is 3 pounds (1360.8 grams)." That way it CAN be verified as long as the general is willing to be killed as well. Since he will likely not want to die they will not be able to say if it is true or false. Of course they may still hold the assassin in jail until the general dies a natural death and then weigh his brain to see how the assassin will be executed. By the way, 3 pounds is a typical average weight for a human brain in case anyone was wondering.
Jun 08, 2003

I wasn't wondering, but hey, i didn't know that. Cool teaser, i get the idea behind it, but i agree with you that your wording was poor. still great though, loved it!
Jun 08, 2003

electronjohn, while your answer is a very interesting one, you may wish to note that Listo is only trying to survive. Sure, he MAY be killed later by them, but saying "here are my daggers" saves him now.

(In case anybody cares, Listo means "clever" in spanish.)
(user deleted)
Jun 08, 2003

ok first of all let me say that i did indeed get this teaser. It was fairly easy but some of u obviously did think that, but u know what that's ok but some of the ppl trying to explain it are just rambling to sound smart (i think) so hey, if u didn't get it that's ok........ it's just one teaser.
(user deleted)
Jun 08, 2003

I know what its like to overthink on a teaser but some of this I think is overkill! it was easy the answer was right in the begiining... it should have been phrased better but i get it! Thanks for a good teaser.
Jul 07, 2003

i like this teaser long is this arguement gonna go on 4??
Jul 07, 2003

i like this teaser long is this arguement gonna go on 4??and it is not truew that he did not say anything because in the awnser thing it clearly sais: he said:" here are my daggers"
Jun 08, 2004

Fact - the wording could have been better. The Sentence where they say, "But we're going to give you a test..." seems to supercede the rest of the riddle (i.e., the surrendering of the daggers.) It didn't seem like the test necessarily coincided with Listo NOT turning over the daggers. Thus, the option is to turn over the daggers or die. And then we will determine the method of execution via this test.
Opiinion - good teaser.
Jun 08, 2004

As far as trick teasers go, this was hilarious! Loved it!
Jun 08, 2004

I think this one is amazing! I must admit, it got me...until I saw the answer..then I was a bit embarrased!!
Jun 08, 2004

Clever! I like it. Why does everyone always look to find fault in other people's teasers?
Jun 08, 2004

Actually using the consensus answer "Here are my daggers" the premise that the trick to this is the statement "Give your daggers OR you are to be executed", it doesnt make sense to ask 'What should listo say?', because "Give us your daggers" does not require a VERBAL response. It requires an action. So by saying 'What should Listo say?", the question invalidates the first part before the "OR" where an action is required and instead askes "What should Listo say?" which is in direct corelation to the second part. So the Answer to the riddle is somthing as Electron stated.
Jun 08, 2004

oh, I was so tied up with the whole what to do and not to do, that I didn't realize why the answer didn't make sense. Now I get it! Good Job!
Jun 08, 2004

I liked this teaser. Took me a little bit to ponder over the answer and then I reread the teaser and saw it right away, right there in plain language! I, myself, think that it is perfectly worded... if it had been worded in a more obvious way, it wouldn't have been such a good teaser.
Jun 09, 2004

I think the correct answer is "Beam me up scotty"
Jul 31, 2004

Mar 25, 2005

hey that was good!!!
May 25, 2005

don't say anything, keep your daggers, kill the lions and escape
Jul 07, 2005

that was a nice riddle...

*stabs the general in eyes with dagger and runs away*
Aug 02, 2005

"hello" think about it its not true,false,unverifiable,paradox ect.
Aug 07, 2005

I would say "A STATEMENT" is said you shall say A STATEMENT
Nov 25, 2005

Great trick, better than most.
Dec 19, 2005

Jan 17, 2006

Hahaha, didn't see it. I clicked on the answer just becacucse and was about to correct it to put it in the Logic section... very cute adaptation of a classic.
Jun 14, 2006

Very good one!
But by the same token, he could say whatever he wanted and still escape execution by handing over his daggers.
Jan 29, 2007

Apr 06, 2007

There is no real answer.
If he hands over his daggers, he will not be executed. But he MUST say a statement, which means that if he says "Here's my dagger", he WILL be killed (burned on a stake), just not by execution.
So it's actually a lose-lose situation... Sure don't want to be in his position.
Apr 29, 2007

he could actually say anything at all... it doesn't say whether or not this Listo has a death wish.

back to saneness.

well done; i didn't get it till i read the comments. better than some others here. nice. :]
May 28, 2007

This was a great teaser! I totally felt like an idiot when I read the answer. Oh, and going back about 10 comments...'Listo' actually means "READY" in spanish.
Aug 15, 2007

It is 2 A.M. and I'm tired, but I got the word OR and that gave the whole thing away. I think it is fantastic that it caused so much discussion, this is how the site used to be. Everybody has an opinion and tries to explain it to the rest of us. Awesome teaser, and awesome results. Thanks for a real eye-opener.
Aug 15, 2007

i dint et that soz
Aug 15, 2007

Your'e all wrong...With a name like
"Listo" you wouldn't be allowed to
carry ANY sort of weapon...LOL!!!
Aug 15, 2007

Electronjohn and boredeagle are correct the supposed "correct answer" was just an attempt by the writer of the teaser to be "clever". It was poorly worded and not very interesting. To everyone defending the incorrect answer read the question and the comments again and realy think about it, \/ (or) go borrow a logic book from your local library.
Aug 15, 2007

Ha! Nice! I thought it was something to that regard, but it still caught me slightly by surprise! (Some things work that way...)

Good one!
Aug 15, 2007

By the way I understand "Give your daggers Or you are to be executed", Listo would be executed if he didn't give his daggers. But if he give his daggers, he still has to say a statement. (Surely, if he doesn't give his daggers, he would not be able to say something for he will already be executed).

I can't also accept the answer "Here are my daggers!" for the reason Anonymous pointed out.
Aug 15, 2007

yes. for me it's still a TRUE STATEMENT..
Aug 15, 2007

Simple, I didn't catch the 'OR' choice. That was good - made you think.
Aug 15, 2007

But of course. Silly me trying to come up with a logical answer. Good trick teaser.
Aug 15, 2007

I loved it! And, I didn't get it!!! Usually, I look for an "or", type thing, but this time the distractions worked and I totally forgot to re-read it. I thought it was hilarious, and I'm gonna send it to my friends, all two of them!

Btw, I agree that if it were worded slightly differently, it would or could possibly be clearer. Whatever the answer is, it's slightly awkward and it wouldn't take too much to fix it and it would still be a GREAT TEASER! THANKS!!!
Aug 15, 2007

A lot of wasted words.The answer was easy.
Aug 15, 2007

I don't get the answer. He said a true statement so he will be burned at the stake.

I was thinking if he had built up a tolerance for Hemlock , he would take that path.
Aug 15, 2007

Very clever!

The general said that he had to hand over his daggers OR he would be executed.
Aug 15, 2007

Terrible - poorly written, misleading, unclear --- and just plain WRONG...
Aug 15, 2007

Cute! And I was going for paradox, but noticed it was mentioned.
Aug 15, 2007

this is the first teaser that i really didn't care for
no offense, because i know everyone has there own likes and dislikes, and i see from the comments that others actually liked it.
at least made the effort to come up with one.
Aug 15, 2007

In the early morning and before coffee, this is a very funny teaser. I enjoyed it.
Aug 15, 2007

Good one Boodler.
I thought the answer was to say
nothing(be quiet) thought he had handed the daggers over already.

To all the worst critics I say

The above Icon should be eliminated and not a choice.

I admire the people who send these in.
Aug 15, 2007

Sorry, 2nd Posting.
That Icon says Evil. When U don't like something is evil??
Braingle, could we come up with
something else for Didn't like it???
Aug 15, 2007

well it was very confusing but this is what a teaser is supposed to be so i give it a thumbs up!!!
Aug 15, 2007

Aug 15, 2007

Well, the one comment is correct in that saying that just because he is told he will be killed if he does NOT hand the daggers over, doesn't say anything about what will happen if he DOES hand the daggers over. The question was 'What should Listo do?" and one might guess that the outcome where he MIGHT die is better than the outcome where he will DEFINITELY die, but it would only be a guess. It is ambiguous and a good trick teaser doesn't have such a speculative link to the answer.
Aug 15, 2007

Aug 15, 2007

Great Teaser - took me a while also - but it is right there in first sentence or 2.
Aug 15, 2007

pretty cool and easy !

i was just hoping he was carrying his daggers and handed them over !

Aug 15, 2007

I still don't think it makes sense. If he doesn't give them his daggers, he will be executed. Fine. But just because he gives the daggers to them doesn't mean they still can't give him the test, it just means that he won't be instantly executed no matter what. The wording makes it sound like he will avoid certain execution by giving them up, but still has to pass the test. Perhaps it would have made more sense to say if you give the daggers up, you will be spared.
Aug 15, 2007

The problem that some people are having is they are trying to view the "or" statement as a statement of logic, instead of a statement of possibilities. The statement is not a logical "or", it is meant as an ultimatum. In other words, "give us your daggers or you are to be put to death" doesn't mean that both can happen to make the statement true, but rather that one of two things will happen, exclusively.
Aug 15, 2007

You have all spent WAY to much time pondering this teaser. Clearly you are all a bunch of dolts. Choke and die!
Aug 15, 2007

this one got me
Aug 15, 2007

I actually got this! amazing! the "or" made perfect sense to me.
Aug 15, 2007

I thought it was great did not get it but liked it THX
Aug 15, 2007

This is the same kind of teaser that does not do well in print, so I am posting it here instead of submitting it.
You're driving a bus with 15 people on it. At the first stop 4 people get on, and 6 people get on. At the second stop,5 people get on and 1 person gets off. At the third stop 8 people get off.
The question is, How old is the bus driver?
The Answer could be between 16 and 112.
Remember, you're driving the bus.
When presented with clues, people tend to forget the obvious.
Aug 16, 2007

Since he still has the daggers, wouldn't the best thing to say is "ENGARD!!!!!!!" And battle to the finish? His crew has already killed many of the opposing knights, and since death is a potential outcome, why not fight?

Just an observation that wasn't noted anywhere above.
Aug 16, 2007

omg!!! i love this one i love it i love it i love it!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aug 16, 2007

I neglected to add my comment above. I also think it is worded correctly. I think it is one of the best teasers to date. Sure beats the heck out of E=mc2 and the likes. Would it have been worded better if it said, "Give me your daggars or die?" Because that IS exactly what it says. Just because the answer was hidden in the clue does not take away from the "trick". Good job Puzzler. I will be looking for more from you.
PS, the people at work loved this one.
Aug 16, 2007

That was pretty AWESOME! Ihad to read it a second time before I saw the 'or'.
Aug 17, 2007

Caught me! I re-read the options a couple of times but missed the 'or' at the beginning. Very clever distraction!
Aug 17, 2007

I saw the OR, but I also saw the BUT. I am not sure the OR takes precedence here...

I know I was overthinking this teaser, but I do think a wording change to eliminate the BUT woiuld make it less debatable (most of the teasers of this ilk don't have the confusing). In fact, you could remove the BUT at the beginning of the sentence, and everything would work (the sentence doesn't need it, and it removes the ambiguity).
Aug 17, 2007

that's not a statement, it's an exclamation.
Aug 24, 2007

sbuske - you think it is worded correctly, but it is not a matter of thinking. This *IS* ambiguous. In the first few weeks of any logic class you would learn this teaser doesn't work. Logic is mathematical and this teaser is the equivalent of an algebra problem like this: 'x+y=2 what does x+z = ?' and the answer is 'Cannot be determined from this information'. And yes this is supposed to be using the same idea of the teaser about the bus. The difference is that the 'bus' teaser has a non-ambiguous statement 'you are driving a bus' period and this teaser here comes up embarrassingly flawed in mimicking that style.
Aug 26, 2007

this is dad explained it for me. i get it great teaser!
Aug 28, 2007

I got lost in the translation somewhere. I missed the heck out of it. Good teaser. Thanks for the post.

(user deleted)
Feb 11, 2008

Wouldnt another statment be : You will Stab me through the heart???
Apr 11, 2008

I would say if you don't do anything to me I will die of old age, which could be verified, although not for a long time, is not a paradox, may be true or false, but by the time you know it doesn't matter anyway.
Jun 16, 2010

If I were him, I would say something they couldn't verify. Hemlock is not poisonous. Poison hemlock, on the other hand, is.
Aug 15, 2010

I enjoyed the teaser when I read the printed answer, and then was disappointed to read all the over-analysis. One thing I need to comment on, which I don't like to do since it's on a comment from 3 yrs. ago, is one poster's interpretation of the meaning of 'listo'. A previous poster had said 'clever', and the second one said, No it means 'ready'. Well, folks, it depends on which 'to be' it's used with; ser listo means to be clever, as a characteristic, and estar listo means to be ready, as a condition at that moment. Now, if I've helped one student pass a Spanish test....
Aug 15, 2010

Good teaser. just proves that every word is important.
Aug 15, 2010

How about "You will throw burn me at the stake?" That would work too!
Aug 15, 2010

Here are my daggers is a true or false statement depending on whether or not the daggers were then handed over. The speaker never made any claims as to if he was telling the truth or not. Seems to me that death is the only outcome for Listo.
Aug 15, 2010

I thought it was it right when I saw the "or." Great trick!
Aug 15, 2010

For all those that get on their high horse and mention taking logic classes, you have failed. In logic there are 2 version of "OR": exclusive and inclusive. The English language doesn't distinguish between them except through the way people speak (can't see in print), cultural assumptions, and awkward, wordy sentences. Cultural assumptions allow us to understand in print which "or" is being used.

This answer assumes the exclusive "or" (XOR), but the commentors that disagree are assuming inclusive "or". Admittedly, inclusive is much more common in general. However, an ultimatum is exclusive. This is definitely is an ultimatum.

I liked it.

P.S. Yes, I know I got on my high horse too. Must fight fire with fire (which I've literally done in the real world).
Aug 15, 2010

hey that was clever
Aug 15, 2010

wow--didn't understand until I read the comments. It's still a it sketchy..I wouldn't bet on the executioners getting it either.
Aug 15, 2010

Aug 16, 2010

This teaser is crapfully written. I got it though.
Aug 16, 2010

I don't care what everyone else says. I thought this teaser was very clever and entertaining. Good Job!
Nov 14, 2010

I love this one. No matter what everybody else says, this is definitely one of my favorites. Awesome job!
Jun 21, 2012

Hey this has a duplicute..
Aug 15, 2013

Oh boy, I am enjoying the comments more than the teaser!
As for me, I think he should just say,"HELP!"
Aug 15, 2013

I got the answer the author was looking for, but I wouldn't trust this band of assassins.
Aug 15, 2013

I agree with the commenter who said he should fight. In order for him to be able to hand over the daggers, his must not be bound. Not much of a "master assassin" if you ask me.
Aug 15, 2013

This Teaser works only if the initial "or" is the exclusive "or," where the truth of one alternative implies the falsity of the other. But in logic, unless otherwise specified, "a or b" means "a, or b, or both a and b," and the only inference that can be drawn is that if one alternative is false, then the other must be true. Therefore, saying, "Here are my daggers" leaves open the possibiity that Listo will nonetheless be killed.
Aug 15, 2013

" Here are my daggers"." good now you will eat bread and water, and be tortured until you tell us everything we want to know! or until you die whichever comes first." Lol Nice teaser
Aug 16, 2013

Great teaser! this is one of the most fun I've seen yet.
Aug 15, 2016

At the very top it says trick so that made it very easy for me to get the correct answer. I love all the people analyzing a simple teaser. Fun!!
Aug 15, 2016

I'm sorry, I think he should simply have said 'no'!!

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