Six pirates and Gold Coin distribution puzzle


Pirate and gold coin

The five pirates mentioned previously( joined by a sixth, then plunder a ship with only one gold coin.

After venting some of their frustration by killing all on board the ship, they now need to divvy up the one coin. They are so angry, they now value in priority order:
1. Their lives
2. Getting money
3. Seeing other pirates die.

So if given the choice between two outcomes, in which they get the same amount of money, they’d choose the outcome where they get to see more of the other pirates die.

How can the captain save his skin?

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  • 3 Answer(s)

    If pirates are taken to be 6 5 4 3 2 1…with the number corresponding to the seniority-
    Let’s then start with 2 pirates and go further as done in the 5 pirate puzzle problem,

    2 pirates- 1 and 2. Obviously 2 will keep the coin.


    3 pirates-   3 will give it to 1 and 1 knows he won’t get anything if he says no as when 3 pirate is killed, case 2 reduces to case 1.


    4 pirates-   4 gives it to 2. who (since is intelligent) would say yes to.


    5 pirates- 5 obviously won’t give it to 2. But even if he gives the coin to 4,3 or 1. All of rest three will say no to it. So, this condition can’t be stabilised .  So 5 would be killed no matter what and we’ll go back to case 3 with 4 pirates.


     6 pirates-    6 knows 5 would always want him to live or else if 6 dies, 5 eventually dies and we go back to case 3 where 2 gets the coin. So 6 wont give it to 2 as he would be rich one way or the other. Thus, he will give the coin to any of 4,3 or 1 . Any of them would say yes.
    So 6,5 and (4/3/1) would poll yes and captain saves himself.


    Harsh Sharma Scholar Answered on 4th September 2015.

    agree on 2,3,5 but not 4.. if there are 4 pirates then captain can give it to either 2 or 3 (because 3 will not get anything when he is the captain since he will have to give it to 1 to survive, so 3 is going to say yes if 4 gives the coin to him), making the final solution to be just simply giving the coin to anyone except 5.

    on 5th April 2016.
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     The most senior pirate could give the coin to the least senior pirate. He can use the same logic in the previous puzzle to explain the futility of anyone trying to keep the coin for himself.

    John123 Expert Answered on 19th July 2015.
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    The captain, in order to save his life would give the only coin to the next senior pirate (the potential next captain). Seeing this, the rest of the 4 members would plan to kill the pirate. Once the member is dead, the captain would then decide to hand over the coin to the next senior pirate, who also gets killed and it goes on until only 2 members are left. At this point, the junior most member wouldn’t dare kill the captain alone and hence, the captain not only saves his life, kills the other pirates but also gets the coin.

    anshul sharma Starter Answered on 4th September 2015.
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