299-part Harmony!Situation puzzles (sometimes called lateral thinking puzzles) are ones where you need to ask lots of yes or no questions to figure out what happened in the situation. These are good puzzles for groups where one person knows the puzzle and answers the questions.
Long ago in the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.) of China, there was a state called Qi. The Emperor of Qi was very fond of listening to the music played on the Yu, a piped instrument, so he convened a band of 300. From all walks of life and from all regions of the state the Yu players came, each seeking the prestigious position of a court performer, until the required band of 300 players was formed. Every day this band was called in to play the Yu for his Majesty at teatime. The Emperor's keen ears seemed to be very satisfied with the band and the harmonies performed, and the performers were well rewarded.
As a matter of fact, for one of the players named Nan Guo, his ability on the instrument was poor at best, but he did manage to pass himself off. He was included just to make up the required 300 performers. He would usually seat himself in the middle and pretended to be playing the Yu together with the others, and everything seemed good for him. He had never been exposed and went on well with his inferior ability.
After many years of lavish living in such a rich palace lifestyle, Nan Guo grew conceited, proud and even vain over his talent, or in reality his lack of it. Each day he would join the other members of the band, dressed in fine silks, and with a full belly would march out to the peony pavilion to play for the Emperor. Nan Guo had learned long ago that one among 300 would never be found out. But on a sad autumn day, dressed in the finest of white silks 'playing' among the three hundred in the Emperor's funeral procession, he was playing for his own passing days without realizing it.
The new Emperor, Min, was also a lover of the Yu, like the old ruler, and every day would also enjoy the music of the Yu with his tea. Then suddenly one day Nan Guo packed up and fled the grand palace, leaving everything he owned behind, and was never to be heard of again. Why?
HintOnly one thing had changed. There were neither human sacrifices nor eunuchs to be made of the band members. Nan Guo still wished to remain a part of the Yu band and this good life.
AnswerNan Guo found out his days of the good life were at an end when it turned out that Prince Min, who ascended to the throne, only enjoyed Yu in SOLO performances rather than harmony. He was known as a man who did not take kindly to incompetency, to put it mildly. So when he was called to play before the Emperor, it was said that Nan Guo jumped on a horse and rode away from the grand palace, never to be heard of again.
Later people would use the idiom, "using a bad piper to fulfill the number", to describe those who don't have genuine abilities or experience and are included just to meet the required number.
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