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The King and the Poison

Logic puzzles require you to think. You will have to be logical in your reasoning.


Fun:**** (3.11)
Difficulty:*** (2.83)
Submitted By:Yanivster


In a far away land, it was known that if you drank poison, the only way to save yourself is to drink a stronger poison, which neutralizes the weaker poison. The king that ruled the land wanted to make sure that he possessed the strongest poison in the kingdom, in order to ensure his survival, in any situation. So the king called the kingdom's pharmacist and the kingdom's treasurer, he gave each a week to make the strongest poison. Then, each would drink the other one's poison, then his own, and the one that will survive, will be the one that had the stronger poison.
The pharmacist went straight to work, but the treasurer knew he had no chance, for the pharmacist was much more experienced in this field, so instead, he made up a plan to survive and make sure the pharmacist dies. On the last day the pharmacist suddenly realized that the treasurer would know he had no chance, so he must have a plan. After a little thought, the pharmacist realized what the treasurer's plan must be, and he concocted a counter plan, to make sure he survives and the treasurer dies. When the time came, the king summoned both of them. They drank the poisons as planned, and the treasurer died, the pharmacist survived, and the king didn't get what he wanted.
What exactly happened there?

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Posted by maneesh on Nov 22, 2001

Cool !!!

Posted by tec_ocd on Dec 12, 2001

yeah....way cool

Posted by phatcheeks1080 on Jan 25, 2002


Posted by anneofgg14 on Jan 26, 2002

I really liked this puzzle!

Posted by DillKill47 on Feb 09, 2002

That was cool

Posted by Zazzar on Feb 10, 2002

In fact is WAS cool... reading the answer that is. For I could not solve it... and not unlike Mr. Owl, I "bit" into the chewy center after only 3 licks.

Posted by captbob61 on Mar 26, 2002

I came up with a few different possible scenarios, but that is tough! Really good presentation of the problem too. Great job!

Posted by rohddawg on Mar 26, 2002


Posted by pusandave on Mar 28, 2002

Fun and well written!

Posted by comet16 on Mar 30, 2002

Awesome puzzle!!!

Posted by emilymonkeymaia on Apr 11, 2002

Wah cool!

Posted by arij on Apr 12, 2002

this ones so good that I just cannot tell you!

Posted by GoldieLuvNeopets on Apr 24, 2002

Wow great job!

Posted by einat16 on May 02, 2002

I really liked this one... very nice...
p.s.- me eifo ata? yesh leha shem ivri...

Posted by SandPman on May 12, 2002

One of the best I have seen on here - very good.

Posted by O_wise_one on May 19, 2002

Very long, but it was WELL worth the wait, did U see that somewhere, or did U make it up? Either way, VERY good and VERY entertaining!

Posted by andy1608 on Jun 05, 2002

Note for potential treasurers (and pharmacists I guess!) If you take a poison which is slightly stronger than the poison you drink before going in, you'll be OK and the pharmacist will die. (as long as he still brings water.) Your slightly stronger poison will neutralise your earlier inbibed one, but still kill the sneaky pharmacist. Ha ha. So you can never be too sure! Still a superb teaser, one of my top 3 definitely.

Posted by mavericklotus on Jun 06, 2002

A great teaser. Yet, I feel it needs to be made clear that the 'antidote' poison loses its deadly qualities as it neutralises the prior, weaker venom.
I was hung up on the idea that to survive, one would need to continually consume stronger and stronger poison!

Posted by odcsurferchick on Jun 16, 2002

i thought that

Posted by odcsurferchick on Jun 16, 2002

i thought that 1 of them had killed the other and they all lived happyley ever after!

Posted by Smart on Jun 29, 2002


Posted by doggyxp on Jul 06, 2002

I like this riddle is good, but sortof copfusing.

Posted by Jasin on Jul 09, 2002

Excellent presentation. I really enjoyed reading and contemplating this one.

Posted by jillybean on Jul 15, 2002

i thought the pharmasist was going to bring nothing so i was sorta close

Posted by sk8babe on Jul 17, 2002

Well written!!

Posted by pix_e_suhst on Jul 22, 2002

Okay its not really the same but it reminded my of that scene in the princess bride... heh

Posted by Natalie_H on Jul 28, 2002


Posted by TatiDaPoet on Jul 29, 2002

OKay! That teaser was soo awesome...definately one of my favs! I give you mad props on that one! It was super clever!

Posted by DanceJiver on Jul 29, 2002

Trae cool
I have never seen anything like that. Igot confused snd I liked it

Posted by 4sH_n_7ay_t4y on Jul 30, 2002

Not too shabby

Posted by on Aug 08, 2002

its pretty long and confusing.. but i understood it wen i read the answer

Posted by bmotts on Aug 15, 2002

If there's one bad poison teaser, I haven't heard it!

Posted by dsquared on Aug 19, 2002

That is one truly fantastic teaser!!!

Posted by sackonto on Oct 11, 2002

I must say - very cool teaser.
Great explanation of the given facts.
I was excited to see that the answer
was exactly as I had guessed. I am
rarely that close to the answer on
a teaser that's so involved.

Posted by Ember on Oct 23, 2002

Very well writen and pretty difficult.

~~~nice job~~~

Posted by the_smart_one on Nov 23, 2002

I love how you wrote this story. It was very good in the biggest font ever. GREAT JOB!!!!!!

Posted by stonemug on Dec 20, 2002

good one, I've seen this one on another site.

Posted by deekdotcom on Dec 20, 2002

Very well done Yanivster. I would have to say that this was the best teaser that i've ever read

Posted by rajeshwar on Jan 23, 2003

what a wonderful logic......

Posted by SourGir1986 on Jan 29, 2003

That was great!

Posted by lohki on Mar 20, 2003

one word UBAH...very nice fav so far

Posted by hermdawg on Apr 04, 2003


Posted by whyme on Apr 05, 2003


Posted by gladiator1442 on Apr 14, 2003

wow clever!

Posted by desilu72 on Apr 20, 2003

I figured out that there was water involved, but couldn't quite make the connection...well done.

Posted by delendasd on May 09, 2003

very nice indeed, job well done!

Posted by adoontourious on May 19, 2003

thats a good one, made me think about it like a good brain tease should

Posted by tangerine on May 23, 2003

Wow ... nice job! Really liked it! ~Tangi~

Posted by kara on Jun 18, 2003

I could've used a clue or two.

Posted by Smithy on Jul 05, 2003

I saw this exact puzzle, word for word, on another website. But its a brilliant puzzle so that doesn't matter. )

Posted by xX_2_CuTe_Xx on Jul 10, 2003

THIS ONE IS AWEOSME!! if there is/was an award for best riddle/puzzle this would have my vote!!

Posted by jacintan on Aug 09, 2003

This was very good, but at one point you called it a poison- not a potion.

Posted by icehaven on Aug 12, 2003

Quite confusing...

Posted by kittycat663 on Oct 16, 2003

way cool....... i thought for some reason the king would end up with nothing but i didn't realize how til' i read the answer. Really really really smart.

Posted by kittycat663 on Oct 16, 2003

i tihnk you mean to say they drank the POISON as planned.

Posted by AXTON on Jan 15, 2004

Fantastic teaser, easily the best i have read!!!!


Posted by bbngk on Jan 15, 2004

Great One

Posted by CrystalScryer on Feb 09, 2004

That was a very interesting and confusing one! I like it, it's 'cool'...

Posted by MasterMind90 on Feb 21, 2004

Very Clever! Iwould have never guessed!

Posted by crystalstar on Jun 25, 2004

Woaaaaaaaah, that was so awesome! Great!

Posted by agenteasy on Jun 29, 2004

Sorry guys, but this one doesn't work...
The basic premise of the problem is that it takes a STRONG POISON to cancel a WEAK POISON. Therefore the treasurer's plan to bring water to the competition would have killed him (he would drink the water, and then drink the pharmacist's poison and then die from it).
We can't say that water is the "weakest poison" because that would imply that anything is a weak poison, and therefore no poison could ever have effect (because it would be, by definition, always following a weaker poison... and therefore an antidote)


Posted by Rashad on Jul 22, 2004

What happened to the pharmacist after that knowing that he didn't do what the KING told him?

Posted by twixy on Jul 23, 2004

i liked this teaser.

Posted by hot_chick on Jul 28, 2004

WOW! excellent, quite long but worth the wait, keep it up! very good

Posted by on Aug 09, 2004

Outstanding teaser

Posted by Chosh on Nov 09, 2004

Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant.

Posted by Kdub on Nov 15, 2004

I love it when a logic puzzle tests my logic like this one. Good teaser

Posted by stormtrooper on Feb 09, 2005

To the favorites!

Posted by darthforman on May 18, 2005

Sweet! I like it.

Posted by goosh on Jul 02, 2005

i liked it- i got the answer wrong- but it was still very good

Posted by mercenary007 on May 04, 2006

good teaser

Posted by Psychic_Master on Jul 30, 2006

Very good and well-written teaser! Definitely going on my favourites!

Posted by Ozzoatmealking on Aug 03, 2006

Man, that bugged me for quite a while. But it felt so good when i finally figured it out. Nice teaser

Posted by wandering_goat on Oct 31, 2006

I love this one. I was determined to figure this out and finally, after wracking my brain over this for a while, I got it.

Posted by eyenowhour on Dec 18, 2006

Great job! I couldn't figure it out until I saw the answer. Very clever.

Posted by adiga_on_line on Jan 15, 2007

This is the most coolest teaser I've ever seen

Good Job!

Posted by brudork on Mar 25, 2007


Posted by oddrey on Jun 02, 2007

well written, fun, and i loved it.

Posted by bfriedfischtom on Apr 14, 2008

Great one.
Andy1608 said: If the treasurer now realizes, that the pharmacist will also bring water?
He the can switch back to poison and still win.
But what if the pharmacist realizes that the treasurer realized that he realized ... and switch back to poison as well?
Ad infinitum.
What happens, if one drinks 3 poisons in a row, weak->strong->strongest.
Will you survive?
If yes, then there is a sure solution for the pharmacist:
drink the weakest poison there is before and bring in the strongest there is to the king.
If it is a toggle: no sure way ....

Posted by cwjakesteel on Nov 11, 2008

If they both brought water then how could either of them die? It said that the treasurer's poison was water so he couldn't have died from that poison which was the first one.

Posted by javaguru on Jan 03, 2009

While it was pretty easy to figure out, I liked this one because the answer was logically tight. Some of the teasers of this style have an arbitrary aspect.

Very nice.

Posted by Paladin on Mar 16, 2009

Not sure why there is so much confusion over the answer... it is pretty plain and simply explained.

The treasurer expected the pharmacist to make a strong poison, so the treasurer's plan was to drink water. Since a stronger poison neutralizes a weaker poison, the treasurer would drink a very weak poison ahead of time. Thus we would have the following:

T0 = weak poison
T1 = weak poison + pharmacist's poison = neutral
T2 = neutralized poison + water

P0 = nothing
P1 = nothing + water
P2 = water + pharmacist's posion

Clearly the pharmacist would die.

The pharmacist expected this plan and knew he would drink water from the treaurer then would be killed by his own poison, so he decided to bring water as well:

T0 = weak poison
T1 = weak poison + water
T2 = weak poision + water + water

P0 = nothing
P1 = water
P2 = water + water

In this scenario, the treasurer would die, the pharmacist would live, and the king would have water thinking it was the strongest poison in the kingdom.

This is a logic puzzle, and as such you have to take the premises as fact. It may not make logical sense that a strong poison could neutralize a weaker poison, but that is irrelevant in this case as it is an assumed fact.

Very well done logic problem!

Posted by bigmit37 on Jul 08, 2009

This was very logical and I loved it.

Couldn't solve it but I am happy with the answer.

Posted by on Feb 05, 2010

Solved it. Though, I'm not usually good at these, got lucky

Posted by princess2007 on Feb 23, 2013

I figured it out to the point that they'd both bring water. I just never got how the treasurer could survive. I guess I assumed that if he'd have anything before their "poison-drinking tournament", he'd die before the tournament started. Kinda arbitrary I guess. Good teaser!

Posted by NoriMori on Aug 05, 2014

I was very happy to see that this riddle is on here, because it is one of my very favourite riddles.

Posted by rawbots on Mar 18, 2016

This assumes two things:

1) The treasurer had no way to build a stronger poison than the pharmacist.

2) The treasurer wasn't going to bring poison for the pharmacist.

If the treasurer tried to make poison (even if it was a weak poison), the pharmacist would have drunk it and then water, and would have died.

This riddle gets 1 star.

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