The Week of the Queen Anne Festival

AH, TO BE IN ENGLAND, now that summer’s here, thought Thomas P. Stanwick as he descended to the pub for breakfast. He was beginning a two-month vacation in England with a week’s stay at the Grey Boar Inn, a few miles outside Knordwyn.

     The amateur logician had first visited Knordwyn, a tiny village in Northumbria, a year earlier, and had become very fond of it and greatly intrigued by its peculiarities. Chief among these was that about half the villagers always told the truth, and the rest always lied. Stanwick thus found his conversations there wonderful challenges for his powers of deduction.

     It was a beautiful Monday morning, and Stanwick gathered his thoughts over a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and tea. He knew that this was the week of the Queen Anne Festival, held annually in Knordwyn since Queen Anne stopped overnight in the village on her way to visit Scotland in 1702. People gathered on festival days from many surrounding towns to enjoy dancing, balladeering, cooking, racing, and other activities.

     The trouble was that the festival date and the number of festival days varied from year to year, and Stanwick wasn’t sure which days this year were the festival days. He knew that today was not a festival day, and that the festival would be over before Saturday. At least one, and possibly more, of the intervening days would be festival days, and he wanted to know precisely which.

     Finishing his breakfast, Stanwick lit his pipe, leaned back in his chair, and idly fingered a tip of his brown mustache as he looked slowly around the room. The other tables were empty except for one by a large window. Around that table were gathered three grizzled villagers, all cronies of the innkeeper, nursing early mugs of ale. Stanwick had seen them before and knew that their names were Chiswick, Green, and Hunter, but he didn’t know which were liars and which were truth-tellers. Well, he thought, perhaps today he would find out.

     Stanwick arose and strolled over to their table.

     “Good morning, gentlemen,” he said cheerfully. “I beg your pardon, but could you please tell me which days this week are festival days? Also, if you’ll excuse my asking, which of you are liars?”

     The three villagers glanced at each other silently for a moment. Chiswick was the first to speak.

     “We are all liars,” said he, “and Friday is a festival day.”

     “He speaks the truth,” Green said. “Also, Tuesday is a festival day.”

     Hunter took a gulp from his mug. “If Chiswick is lying,” he said as he set it down, “then Green is telling the truth. Also, Wednesday is a festival day.”

     “Thank you, gentlemen,” said Stanwick, who turned and walked off with a delighted smile. He now knew which of the three were liars and which days that week were festival days.

     Who is lying? Which days are festival days?

Scroll down for the answer.



     All three are lying, and Thursday alone is a festival day.

     If Chiswick’s statement is true, then they are all liars, including Chiswick. He would thus be a liar telling the truth, which is impossible. Chiswick’s statement is therefore false, and Chiswick is a liar. At least one clause of his compound statement is therefore false. Since Chiswick’s statement is false, Green’s claim that it is true is also false, and Green is also a liar. Thus his other statement that Tuesday is a festival day is false. Hunter’s first statement is false, since Chiswick and Green are both lying. Hunter is therefore also a liar, and Wednesday is not a festival day. Thus, all three are liars. This means the first clause of Chiswick’s statement is true. For the statement as a whole to be false, which it is, the remaining clause must be false, so Friday is not a festival day either. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are the only possible festival days. Since at least one must be a festival day, and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday are not festival days, then Thursday must be the only festival day. 

Stan Smith was the author of three books of Stanwick mini-mysteries that have been published in nine languages and sold over 120,000 copies.

By Stan Smith