Black and White Hats Puzzle - Solution

The Puzzle:

Black and White Hats
Cannibals ambush a safari in the jungle and capture three men. The cannibals give the men a single chance to escape uneaten.

The captives are lined up in order of height, and are tied to stakes. The man in the rear can see the backs of his two friends, the man in the middle can see the back of the man in front, and the man in front cannot see anyone. The cannibals show the men five hats. Three of the hats are black and two of the hats are white.

Blindfolds are then placed over each man's eyes and a hat is placed on each man's head. The two hats left over are hidden. The blindfolds are then removed and it is said to the men that if one of them can guess what color hat he is wearing they can all leave unharmed.

The man in the rear who can see both of his friends' hats but not his own says, "I don't know". The middle man who can see the hat of the man in front, but not his own says, "I don't know". The front man who cannot see ANYBODY'S hat says "I know!"

How did he know the color of his hat and what color was it?




Our Solution:

The man in front knew he was wearing a black hat because he knew the first man did not see two white hats and he knew that the second man did not see one white hat because if he saw a white hat, the second man would have known that his hat was black from hearing the first man's statement.


See this puzzle without solution
Discuss this puzzle at the Math is Fun Forum