Can You Get Arthur Across the Moat Using Just 2 Wooden Beams? It’s Harder Than It Seems!

May 11, 2019 Updated: May 11, 2019

Whenever you see mind-bending riddles like these, you just know there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here’s a toughie that will require more than just thinking outside the box—you’ll practically have to invent a whole new box!

Behold the legendary King Arthur as a boy, trapped by Merlin the Magician on a tiny perfectly square island surrounded by a perfectly square moat in a perfectly flat field, which is perfectly level with the island.

The gap between the island and the other shore is not far, just a few feet. A good running start would normally allow young Arthur to clear the moat.

A spell cast by Merlin prevents this, however, causing Arthur to drop like a pile of bricks should he try jumping. There are man-eating electric eels roaming the water to seal the deal, so swimming is out of the question.

Arthur’s only hope is two wooden beams left on the island with him by Merlin, sturdy enough to hold the lad’s weight—the wizard is testing the would-be-king’s wit to see if he’s worthy of ruling Camelot.

Each beam is exactly the same length as the distance between the island and the opposite shore. The width of the moat is exactly the same at any given point. Arthur may use only these 2 beams and nothing else to aid him in crossing to safety.

Can you help Arthur think of a way to escape using just these two wooden beams?

Take a few minutes. Get out a pen and paper to work out a solution before you scroll down to check the answer.

There are at least two answers to this puzzle (that we know of). One is a bombshell of a solution that will blow your mind but will require some genuine genius on your part to find; the other is a pretty pathetic (yet still perfectly valid) solution for the sneaky puzzlers out there. When you have found your answer(s) (or if you’ve given up), scroll down for the solution:

“Bombshell” Solution:

Boom! The shortest distance between both shores is not the correct answer after all. By cutting across the corner of the outer shore, we can create a bridge, which allows us to span from the inner island corner, diagonally, to the said beam, bridging the gap with the second beam (as illustrated above). It should be strong enough to walk on, as long as Arthur doesn’t lose his balance!

If you found this answer, then congratulations! Not everyone is able to do it. If you didn’t get it … well, you’re not alone.

“Sneaky, Pathetic, but Still Valid” Solution:

The width aspect of the boards presents a sneaky opportunity to use their diagonals, which are slightly longer than their lengths, to bridge the gap. It’s structurally weak, and there’s a good chance the boards will flip or topple under Arthur’s weight if his balance isn’t perfect. Do you like to live dangerously?

Well, assuming Arthur survives the electric eels and crosses safely, he may have you to thank. He’ll live to see the day when he’ll pull the sword from the stone and preside over his famed knights Knights of the Round Table.

Photo Credit: Illustration – The Epoch Times