The problem of the bottles

The problem of the bottles

I propose a problem of subtractions and divisions, which will show you the importance of being moderately placed in basic arithmetic, regardless of what one is dedicated to in life. Those who dislike the figures, do not be discouraged, because in this case the subtraction and division require more of the cunning of a Sherlock Holmes than of the knowledge of a mathematician.

It seems that a gentleman was robbed in the cellar, taking two dozen bottles of wine that thieves could have kept if they had been as good in divisions as they were in subtractions. They took 12 bottles of a quarter and 12 bottles of half a quarter, but since they found them too heavy to carry, they decided to reduce the weight by providing the success of their respective candidates in the next elections and drinking five bottles of a quarter and five half room. To keep no trace, they took empty bottles with them. But when they arrived at a safe place and the spoils were handed out, they could not evenly divide the seven full and seven empty bottles or the seven full and half empty bottles. Needless to say, the division would have been much easier, if the drink had not confused their brain so much.

Since I don't want you to think that I have too much information about this somewhat rough matter, I ask that you be the ones who tell me how many thieves there were, and how they divided the seven quarters and the seven half quarters of wine, as well as the five empty quarter bottles and five half quarters, so that each thief had an equitable share.

It is taken for granted that wine cannot be transferred from one bottle to another, any liquor thief knows that wine cannot be manipulated in that way, so nothing to use such juggling tricks in this riddle.

Surely you will have noticed by yourselves and I do not need to tell you, but the fact is that our thieves were not very clever and after dividing the bottles they began to argue and fight. Until the uproar attracted the attention of two policemen who passed by and drank all the wine that had taken so much effort to get. But that, like where the empty bottles ended up crashing and the intense headache the next morning is another story.


Although only two thieves are seen in the drawing, it is not necessary to be Sherlock Holmes to prove that in this band there were three thieves. There were 21 quarts of wine and 24 bottles and 3 is the only number with which you can divide both quantities.

One of the thieves takes 3 full and one empty bottles, as well as one full and three empty bottles. Each of the others takes two full and two empty bottles of a quarter and 3 half-full and one empty bottles. Thus, each thief gets 3.5 quarts of wine, 4 large empty bottles and 4 small ones.