Hats and Rooms. Take II

I recently published a puzzle about wizards, hats of different colors and rooms. Unfortunately, I was too succinct in my description and didn’t explicitly mention several assumptions. Although such assumptions are usual in this type of puzzle, I realize now, from your responses, that I should have listed them and I apologize.

The Sultan decided to test the wisdom of his wizards. He collected them together and gave them a task. Tomorrow at noon he will put hats of different colors on each of the wizard’s heads.
The wizards have a list of the available colors. There are enough hats of each color for every wizard. The wizards also have a list of rooms. There are enough rooms to assign a different room for every color.
Tomorrow as the Sultan puts hats on the wizards, they will be able to see the colors of the hats of the other wizards, but not the color of their own. Without communicating with each other, each wizard has to choose a room. The challenge comes when two wizards have the same hat color, for they must choose the same room. On the other hand, if they have different hat colors, they must choose different rooms. Wizards have one day to decide on their strategy. If they do not all complete their task, then all of their heads will be chopped off. What strategy would you suggest for the wizards?

In his comment on the first blog about this problem, JBL beautifully described the intended solution for the finite number of wizards, and any potentially-infinite number of colors. I do not want to repeat his full solution here. I would rather describe his solution for two wizards and two colors.

Suppose the colors are red and blue. The wizards will designate one of the rooms as red and another as blue. As soon as each wizard sees the other wizard’s hat color, he chooses the room of the color he sees. The beauty of this solution is that if the colors of hats are different, the color of the rooms will not match the color of the corresponding hats: the blue-hatted wizard will go to the red room and vice versa. But the Sultan’s condition would still be fulfilled.

JBL’s solution doesn’t work if the number of wizards is infinite. I know the solution in that case, but I do not like it because it gives more power to the axiom of choice than I am comfortable with. If you are interested, you can extrapolate the solution from my essay on Countable Wise Men with Hats which offers a similar solution to a slightly different problem.



  1. Christ Schlacta:

    The wizards should send one member to the bazaar to purchase a mirror. they should agree that one room will contain this mirror, and should all proceed to this room. once knowing their own colour, they should gather in groups by the colours of their hats, and proceed to any unoccupied room, or if the numbers are large enough, a room of wizards with hats of the same colour.

  2. Christ Schlacta:

    Alternate solution: The wizards should choose to flee, for surely one amongst them is a doofus and will foul up any strategy. By fleeing they may manage to survive capture long enough to escape the sultanate, but by staying they will surely die.

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