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Pirate Loot Puzzle

You wouldn’t believe how many animated debates this puzzle has generated.


What is the Pirate Loot Puzzle

It’s a situation game that requires logic to find the answer. The idea is that there are five pirates, A, B, C, D, and E, and they found 100 gold coins. In order to divide the loot they decide that each pirate will propose a plan and the other will vote on it. In case of a tie, the proposer has the deciding vote. Now, don’t think they should agree to each getting 20 coins, because the pirates have other laws. First of all, they don’t trust each other so there can be no alliance between any of them. Then, they’re all interested in surviving and, if possible, throwing some of their mates overboard. The proposals will be presented by order of seniority, starting with A, so they can also figure out how the negotiations might go.


How to Solve the Pirate Loot Puzzle

Now, the logical deductions are a bit difficult to follow so it’s best to start with the official solution to this puzzle, which is A proposes to keep 98 coins for himself and offer one each to pirates C and E. Unfortunately, B and D don’t get anything. Why would the others accept? Because that’s the most they can get.

To understand the logic behind this you have to work your way backwards. If A,B, and C are thrown overboard, and only D and E remain, it’s obvious D will keep all the loot as he has the deciding vote. If there are three pirates left, C, D and E, pirate C can figure it out that D won’t give E anything, so he can propose giving E one coin. If there were four pirates left B, C, D and E, pirate B is smart enough to understand he only had to give one coin to D and leave C and E empty handed. Basically, knowing their mates, C and E they won’t get anything if they don’t agree to A’s plan.

However, this elegant solution has generated a lot of discussions among puzzle lovers, with many believing there’s not enough information to reach a conclusion on how the pirates will divide the loot. What do you think?