The fox, goose and bag of beans puzzle
is a river-crossing puzzle
. It dates back to at least the 9th century, and has entered the folklore
of a number of ethnic groups
Once upon a time a farmer went to market and purchased a fox
, a goose
, and a bag of beans. On his way home, the farmer came to the bank of a river and hired a boat. But in crossing the river by boat, the farmer could carry only himself and a single one of his purchases - the fox, the goose, or the bag of the beans.
If left alone, the fox would eat the goose, and the goose would eat the beans.
The farmer's challenge was to carry himself and his purchases to the far bank of the river, leaving each purchase intact. How did he do it?
The first step must be to bring the goose across the river, as any other will result in the goose or the beans being eaten. When the farmer returns to the original side, he has the choice of bringing either the fox or the beans across. If he brings the fox across, he must then return to bring the beans over, resulting in the fox eating the goose. If he brings the beans across, he will need to return to get the fox, resulting in the beans being eaten. Here he has a dilemma, solved by bringing the fox (or the beans) over and bringing the goose back
. Now he can bring the beans (or the fox) over, leaving the goose, and finally return to fetch the goose.
His actions in the... Read More