The cheese problem

The cheese problem

If we ask where the ideas for riddles come from, you will agree that a good subject can appear in any situation that surprises us by chance or seems ingenious. But the development and implementation of this scheme may take a lot of time and study.

In the day to day something singular catches our attention and naturally the reflection arises, “if this already leaves me perplexed as it is, without any difficulty being added, how could I increase that difficulty by giving it the form of a true puzzle where hide that wit?

The problem can be presented in a sympathetic way so that the description helps explain the concepts and at the same time conceals its true difficulty in what Bret Harte would call a “childlike simplicity” in the story. That same simplicity can be used to divert attention from the trick, or to, as an old philosopher said, "ars est celare artem" by what he meant that true art is to hide art. In that the old riddles differ from the modern ones.

Well, being casually in a store, I saw an assistant cutting a cheese and I was fascinated by the ingenious way he had divided it. The more laps I gave him, the more convinced I was that he was indebted to that assistant for that suggestion that would finally crystallize in the form of a riddle. I congratulated the store manager for his assistant's ability, to which he replied: “Ah! That's nothing. You should see him cut a cake! ”

I never had the opportunity to witness his skill with the cakes, but it was as if a piece of cake and cheesecake stayed in the crop and upset my mental digestion from that moment, until one day they called me to invent a riddle I drew a circle and called it the legend of the pension, and since then it has become very famous.

The cutting of a piece of cake is related to the surface and does not go beyond the square root or the two dimensions. In the cheese cut we go further, we penetrate the surface and enter cubic equations, the depth makes it three-dimensional.

Would you know how many pieces come out of these six cuts?


The cheese is divided into two parts with first cut, in 4 with the second, 8 with the third, 15 with the fourth, 26 with the fifth, and 42 with the sixth and last cut.