Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Mathville Puzzles: The Heirloom Salt Cellar

One thing everyone knows in Mathville is that Mayor Abscissa Adams hosts excellent dinner parties for the members of her cabinet. Fine food, champagne and good conversation combine to make a memorable evening. One Friday evening, as a thunderstorm brewed outdoors, Abscissa and her guests sat in the dining room, eating and chatting. The conversation focused on a beautiful salt cellar, which everyone knew had been in the Mayor's family for generations and was usually placed on the table during elegant dinners.

Suddenly, a flash of lightning lit up the night sky outside, followed by deafening thunder. The lights went out for less than 5 minutes and then returned. After a few moments, the conversation resumed, until the Mayor noticed that her salt cellar was missing. The police were called, and after a couple of hours, the detective in charge arrested the thief.

Can you figure out who stole the salt cellar? Here are your clues.
  • Only these people were present in the Mayor's house at the time of the robbery: Mayor Abscissa Adams, Bob Beacham, Chris Cavanaugh, Dale Davidson, Ella Eames and Francis Fairfield.
  • No one else was in the house. 
  • No one entered or exited the dining room. 
  • For the duration of the brief power outage, the house was in complete darkness.
  • The stolen item was not insured. 
  • No two people have the same weight, hair color, car color or make, shoe color, or scarf color.
  • The person who drives a purple Dodge wore tan shoes.
  • Abscissa Adams has grey hair.
  • The person who drives a black Nissan wore blue shoes.
  • The person who weighs 180 pounds drives a green Toyota.
  • Dale Davidson was wearing a purple scarf.
  • Francis Fairfield has curly hair.
  • The person who weighs 150 pounds wore tan shoes.
  • Bob Beacham weighs 210 pounds.
  • Chris Cavanaugh drives a green Toyota.
  • The person who weighs 190 pounds wore blue shoes.
  • The person who was wearing a red scarf is not the one who wore black shoes.
  • The thief drives a black Nissan.
  • The person who drives a white Ford is not the one who weighs 170 pounds.
  • Ella Eames wore brown shoes.
  • The person who weighs 190 pounds does not have curly hair.
The clues above contain all the information you need to figure out the identity of the thief. 

Contest Rules
  • You must send the solution via email to Laura Skinner at
  • Solution due by Thursday, March 27th at 11:59 p.m. Solutions sent after the deadline will not be considered.
  • You must email the solution from your PVCC email address.
  • You must explain how you arrived at the solution -- that is, you must show your work, explain your reasoning. 
  • Only correct solutions with explanations of the reasoning used to arrive at the solution will be considered.
  • Three entries will be drawn from all the correct solutions, to determine a first, second and third place.
  • The first place prize will be a $30 gift certificate to the PVCC Bookstore.
  • The second place prize will be a $15 certificate to the Mermaid Express coffee cart.
  • The third prize will be a big Hershey’s milk chocolate bar.
  • Drawing will be conducted on Friday, March 28th. Winners will be notified by email, and their names will be published on a blog post. 
  • The solution to the puzzle will be published on the blog after winners have been announced.
  • Winners must pick up their prizes by Thursday, April 3rd at 9 p.m., or they forfeit their prizes. Prizes must be picked up in person. Please present your student I.D.
Would you like another chance to solve a puzzle and win a prize? Check out the puzzle posted outside of Room 160 in the main building by Mu Alpha Theta, the Math Honors Society.