Categories : Einstein

Albert Einstein "So have you worked it out yet? Who owns ze fish, ja!"

Albert Einstein “So have you worked it out yet? Who owns ze fish, ja!”

So how did you go solving Einstein’s Riddle of the Neighbours? Are you ready for the answer?

Maybe you got a great head for logic. Did you draw a table or grid to help you get the answer? Or maybe you wrote out a list of clues and rearranged them that way.

One other methods for solving Einstein’s Neighbour puzzle would be to write all of the items onto Post-It notes or scrap pieces of paper. Then physically arrange them until your layout matches all of the clues Albert gave us.

The answer: The German owns the fish.

How is this answer derived?

Logically, the problem can be broken down as such:

There are 5 houses lined up – so the easiest way to represent this is as 5 boxes, each with 5 traits – nationality, color, beverage, cigar, and pet. I used a spreadsheet for this and made 5 seperate sheets – one representing each house.

Each sheet had the following:

norwegian red tea pall mall dogs
brit green coffee dunhill birds
swede white milk blends cats
dane yellow water prince horses
german blue beer blue master fish

Now, its a process of elimination. This is where things can get tricky if you don’t have things written out. As soon as you figure out a trait for one of the houses, eliminate that trait from all other houses.

First, we know that the norwegian lives in the first house, so he cant live in the others. We also know that the center house drinks milk, so we can eliminate that, and also that the norwegian lives next to the blue house – house 2 is therefore blue.

The green house is on the LEFT of the white house, meaning the norwegian cannot live in a green or white house since it is on the end (ruling out white – no houses are to the left of it) and since the house next to it is already established as blue (ruling out green). This also means that the middle house cannot be white, since the house to the left of it is blue.

At this point, house 1 can be yellow or red – except that a brit lives in a red house, and house 1 is owned by a norwegian. So, house 1 is yellow, eliminating yellow from the other houses. We also know that the man living in the yellow house smokes dunhill – so we can mark that as house 1 too.

The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes dunhill, so house 2 keeps horses. We also know the swede keeps dogs, so house 1 cannot keep dogs.

The Dane drinks tea, the green house drinks coffee, and the man who smokes blue master drinks beer – eliminating all of these from house 1. House 1 drinks water – the man who smokes blends lives next to the man who drinks water, so house 2 smokes blends.

House 5 cannot be green either, since the green house is to the left of the white house, and there is no house to the left of house 5.

House 2 is not a brit (house not red) or a swede (doesnt keep dogs). He also does not drink coffee (not in a green house), or drink beer (does not smoke blue master). He therefore drinks tea, which makes him a Dane.

House 3 cannot be green (drinks milk), which makes it red, and therefor owned by the brit.

This means house 5 is white, and house 4 is green. For house 3, we can also eliminate dogs (swede keeps dogs), blue master cigars (bluemaster smoker drinks beer), and prince (german smokes prince).

The green house drinks coffee – house 4 is green, so beer is eliminted from that. This means that the owner cannot smoke blue master, and therefore must smoke prince – making the owner german, and eliminating dogs as a possible pet. Thus, house 5 is a beer drinking swede who likes dogs.

We also know house 3 smokes pall mall, and therefore rears birds.

We now have our choices of who has fish narrowed to down to house 1 (norwegian) and house 4 (german). The final clue is that the man who smokes blends lives next to the man who keeps cats – house 2 smokes blends, so either house 3 or 1 rears cats. Since house 3 is already established as a bird lover, house 1 must rear cats – this eliminates cats from the German, and leaves only the fish. Therefore, the German owns fish.

Here’s the original Einstein’s Riddle on Neighbours.

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 Posted on : October 20, 2009 - Last updated on Mar 7, 2014
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37 Responses to “Einstein’s Riddle Solution Explained”
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  1. weird everyone has the same answers as me and i was told im wrong up top go figure

  2. i’ve just did it and i looked for the answer and everything was ok exept i put norwegian the fish and german the cat.i’m sad looking at my paper missed 2% by bit.

    1. Don’t feel bad about it Natasha. You can say you’re still in the top 5% and in my books that’s brilliant! 🙂

  3. […] You can find the solution, along with an explanation here. […]

  4. OMG EINSTEIN WAS SO SMART!!! LOOK AT THE FACTS. I’ve seen 1000000s of people do this and get the German, so they couldn’t be apart of the 2%! There are a very small amount of people who say that nobody has a fish! THEY ARE APART OF THE 2%!!!!

  5. Okay, you can make all the graphs and charts you want but you can’t solve this problem. Here’s another one for you: If a truck driver has to pay 50$ for every axle at a toll booth, how much does he pay? The answer is 50x, because you don’t know how many axles there are. You also don’t know that the German has a fish. You also can’t solve 50x, because you don’t know what x is. I believe Einstein knew people would misinterpret this problem, and put much more effort than really required. Yes, you can fill in all the blanks on your chart, but unless it says “THE GERMAN HAS THE FISH” or “THE TRUCK HAS 30 AXLES” you can’t solve the problem.

  6. This isn’t right. The right answers and the steps to how you get it are on .

    1. Are you sure? Several people have gotten the same answer here. And the worksheet in your link comes to the same conclusion.

  7. Abhisumat says :

    I got it

    1. Congratulations Abhisumat! Check out our latest Eisntein Riddle too. Got to keep exercising the brain to maintain a high IQ.

    2. I got it too! We both must be Einsteins. More riddles please

      1. Great work John. How long did it take you?
        Yes there is a recently added riddle to the website here. Have you seen Eisntein’s Riddle of The Bear?

  8. shawaiz asif says :

    Got it…and did it !!!
    Interesting challenge..
    Cannot be solved without drawing a table..
    One should start from the norwegian one !!

    1. Congratualtions! I’m glad you solved it. Good tips too. Another Einstein in the making.

      1. Carrots says :

        Sigh..Einstein said that only two percent of the world can do it- WITHOUT writing it down.

  9. I have the same result as Christian, i even drew the houses and colored them! haha. I don’t know too how I ended up with German and the fish. all i can remember is that I was frustrated that there is only four pets, and then it took me minutes to noticed that the missing pet is in the question! :))) ANYWAY WE ALL DID A GREAT JOB! I DONT CARE WHAT IS THE CORRECT ORDER BUT HELL, I ANSWERED IT! AND I THINK I AM 1 OF THE 2% :))))

    1. Congratulations Sharm on making it to the end and joining the 2%. lol Yeah it’s frustrating to miss the “missing” pet in the question. This riddle makes you take notice of everything. It’s only normal for us humans to filter and select data in order to cope with the overwhelming amount of information we’re faced with everyday.

      I’m looking for more material from Einstein so if anybody knows of anymore riddles or challenges from Albert please contact me by reply here or our Contact page. Thanks! 🙂

      1. Carrots says :

        Einstein said two percent can do it WITHOUT writing it down.

  10. Janaki Senthil says :

    Thank you for the detailed soln … !!

  11. Janaki Senthil says :

    Thank you so much!! I got stuck up with puzzle in middle and this eliminated confusion.. Thank you once again.. 🙂

  12. You guyyyyyyyyyyyyyys, just read the whole thing before criticizing him. That’s not th final chart, he just organized the given data there. Ughhhhhh

  13. The explanations ends up at the right conclusion with my chart.
    However, the tabulateed form of the answer shown above does not tally with the analysis…
    More riddles pls!

  14. Christian Pritchett says :

    This will give you the correct answer and also a a grid that’s not completely wrong, as the one provided earlier is.

    1. Order the houses 1 to 5 from left to right.
    2. The Norwegian lives in house 1.
    3. This means that house 2 is blue since only one house is “next to” house 1 on the 1-5 grid.
    4. Since the norwegian is in house 1 we know that this house cannot be blue (house 2 is) green (it’s left of the white house, but the norwegian is left of the blue house) or white (there is no house to its left.) Since the Brit lives in a red house, there is only one color left for house 1, yellow.
    5. This means that the norwegian in yellow house 1 also smokes dunhills.
    6. House 2 keeps horses. (So we know that either 1 or 3 keeps cats.)
    7. Mark “milk” for house 3.
    8. Because we know the colors of houses 1 and 2 and we know that house 3’s owner drinks coffee, we can deduce from the fact that the green house is to the left of the white house that the green house must be #4 and the white must be #5.
    9. Since we have used the four colors OTHER than red, we know the center house has to be red which means it’s own by the brit.
    10. Now we know what the norwegian in yellow house 1 who smokes dunhills drinks, because milk and coffee have already been assigned to the red and green houses, the dane drinks tea (can’t be tea) and whoever drinks beer smokes blue masters but we know that yellow house 1 smokes dunhills. Thus, the only beverage left for house 1 is water.
    11. The man who smokes blends has a neighbor who drinks water. House 1 drinks water, and its only neighbor is house 2. Therefore, house 2 smokes blends.
    12. We know from rule 12 that some house somewhere has an inhabitant who smokes blue master and drinks beer. Now, for houses 1-4, we know either what they smoke or what they drink, and none of them smoke blue master or drink beer. This means that the owner of white house five smokes blue masters and drinks beer.
    13. The German smokes prince. We have a nationality for house 1 and 3, neither of which is German, and a smoking preference for 1, 2, and 5, none of which is Prince. The only number not already mentioned is 4, which means that for a house to have a german who smokes prince it has to be #4 by rule 13.
    14. So much of the grid is filled in now this solves itself. We know the dane drinks tea, and we have four beverages filled in except for blue house two. So the Dane must occupy house 2 since it’s the only remaining house with both nationality AND drinking preference empty.
    15. The only remaining house without a nationality filled in for it is house 5 which means the swede lives there so house five must keep dogs.
    16. The only blank for cigar preference now is red house 3 with the brit, which means he must smoke the only unused cigar type; pall malls. This means that house 3 rears birds.
    17. We knew already that the man who smokes blends lives next to one who keeps cats and that house 2 smoked blends, but because house 2 had a house on either side either house 1 or house 3 could have kept cats. Now we know that house 3 keeps birds, and the only remaining house next to two is house 1, so house 1 keeps cats.
    18: The answer. We have filled in cats, horses, birds, and dogs for houses 1, 2, 3, and 5, so the fish HAS to live in green house four with the german who drinks coffee and smokes prince.

    Your final grid will look like this:

    Yellow Blue Red Green White
    Norwegian Dane Brit German Swede
    Dunhill Blends Pall Mall Prince Blue Master
    Water Tea Milk Coffee Beer
    Cats Horses Birds Fish Dogs

  15. Sorry but you are wrong. There is a reason Einstein said 98% of the population can’t solve it because they will try to solve it.

    Fish are never once listed in the facts of the riddle and therefore not part of the riddle. The riddle itself is that you have no way of knowing what the German has for a pet as there are only four pets listed.

    In any problem of this nature you must, according to logic, have a statement of fact in order to make a deduction or conclusion that has validity. This is a basic rule of logic.

    The only reason people assume Fish are a pet is that it is listed in the question which can just as easily read, “Who owns the Sheep.”

    1. sorry Tom while it is logic based you are failing the riddle itself the riddle is to make people use the learned deduction and why they never get it but if you remove fish completly then the riddle already has you

  16. I find it odd that your chart is all wrong yet your conclusion is right.

  17. i dont know who decided to post this solution but anyone can guess who has the fish you have a 1 in 5 shot the idea of the riddle is to get it all to prove out and this graph posted is completly wrong i proved this riddle in 20 minutes and i havent seen an explanation that has a graph this wrong until now, there are two ways to come up with the answer the first is the simplest and easiest…..Einstein is german and he owns a fish, the second is to graph it out and if you do this you have to use an untrained mind, Einstein says 5 houses but never says what side your looking at them from if you put the Norwegians house first your going to have no chance of solving it, but if you look at the 5 houses from across the street with the dead end to your left and the entrance to your right the first house is…..the right one, working right to left you can solve it, Einstein is known to promote free thinking and was quoted to not be into taught thinking it traps the mind using this tool its easy to see how he did this, for a harder answer he did this mathematically using numerals as colors and so on to prove the fish was equal to german google the pic and see him in front of a blackboard with a math problem leading to german=fish, the easiest way to solve this is to write each thing on a small peice of paper then you can move everything around as needed but the graph should list things in this order from right to left as said earlier,, yellow, norwegian, water,dunhill,cats, then next house is blue, dane,tea ,blends,horses then its is red, brit,milk,pall mall,birds then white , swede,beer,bluemaster,dogs and then , green , german, coffee,prince, fish the way the graph here is done indicates someone guessed the answer because simple things given in the riddle like the brit in the red house arent even correct here, mensa will not be calling lol

    1. Jeff your logic is wrong in your answer because if you look at #4 it states ” The Green house is next to, and on the left of the White house.” so by putting the green house after the white house you are incorrect. Also for everyone else that did not read the actual paragraph explaining that the table at the top is just for organization purposes you are IDIOTS!!! With all honest truth it took about 1 hr 15 min to do this with simple deduction.

    2. His chart is not wrong. Actually it’s not the final chart, it’s not the answer. He says there that he just organised all the given data, so because in the beginning he didn’t know what the answer will be, he just randomly put everything in the table, so it can be more organized.
      P.S. You couldn’t solve this in 20 minutes, when making up a lie, at least try to make it realistic. I got it too, but it took me 2 hours straight.

      1. Ben Vickers says :

        Actually, it only took me about twenty minutes to get too. At first I thought there would be a direct correlation between the type of things they had, but realized quickly that wasn’t it. And to all of you, all I wrote down was the info given, and did the rest in my head.

        Ps. I’m sixteen……..

  18. Dane's are awesome says :

    Well, it know this really aint got much to do with the riddle but… WTF??
    Why are we yellow, is it because we have a little city in Skagen where all the houses are yellow and red? And i bet you, we’ve got horses but not that many…

    And daim we do not drink water, we drink BEER! 😀

    But otherwise good job 😀

  19. Matt, I’m gald that you enjoyed Einsteins riddle. That’s a very good point about whether you’re point of view is looking down on the houses from behind or from the front of them. It’s something to be considered if it hasn’t been specified in the original riddle. However by deduction you can work out the correct point of view if the one you’re considering reaches a premature end before the riddle is solved. On the other hand if you do reach a solution then you know you had the right perspective.

    Would you be interested if I posted more riddles fo a similar level of complexity?

    1. YES! I’m a sixth grader and I got the correct answer within 20 minutes, and I would love to prove my abnormally high intellect with more riddles of similar difficulty.

  20. What a fantastic riddle and it only took me 4 hours.. ;/ And alot of paper until i realized that if i used a word table it would eliminate the endless crossing outs.

    The one thing that i wanted to point out that started some issues (as i was in full logic mode) is that it didn’t specify whether you were looking down on the houses.. (ie the Nord was in the far left or house number 1 if you draw it out) or standing in front of (Nord on far left or house number 5). I know.. way too much thinking.. I came up with the German and the fish… but for the life of me.. I don’t know how.

  21. Hi Odesmery, the chart shown above is only the starting worksheet and there are 5 identical worksheets at the beginning. It’s used a a process of elimination for each house. That’s why 5 worksheets are produced. If you follow the post you can see it all works out correctly in the end. Thanks for your comment.

  22. hello my name is O i am a middle schooler in new paltz new york and i would like to point out that your chart says that the Norwegians house is red when clearly the brits house is red

  23. but The Norwegian lives next to the blue house??

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