Can you solve it? The colourful truth about elves

Logic with Santa’s little helpers

UPDATE: Solution now up here

WILL FERRELL in ‘ELF’ (2003)
WILL FERRELL in ‘ELF’ (2003) Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/NEW LINE
WILL FERRELL in ‘ELF’ (2003) Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/NEW LINE

Last modified on Mon 14 Dec 2020 12.02 EST

Here’s a logic puzzle that was sent in to me by a (very smart) 12-year-old.

Four elves Glarald, Mnementh, Virthana and Tinsel are each wearing tunics of a different colour. At least one of these elves is a liar. (A liar is someone who says only statements that are untrue). During a break at elf school, the following conversation is overheard:

  • Glarald: Mnementh wears green.

  • Virthana: The elf in green is a liar.

  • Tinsel: I wear blue.

  • Glarald: I wear yellow.

  • Mnementh: I’m in pink.

  • Virthana: The elf in the red tunic beat Tinsel at the 2020 elf curling championship. I do not play curling.

  • Tinsel: One of us is in yellow.

  • Mnementh: Only one liar is among us.

  • Virthana: I do not wear green.

  • Tinsel: I was beaten by the elf in red at the 2020 elf curling championship.

Who beat the elf in the blue tunic at the 2020 elf curling championship?

(Note: You need to assume that elves who are not liars always tell the truth.)

The author of today’s puzzle is Loïs B, a 12-year-old boy from Luxembourg, who said he got the idea when reading a puzzle book during his science class. Bravo Loïs! I’m not sure many 12-year-olds would be able to solve this puzzle, let alone create one like this. (I have taken the liberty of adapting his puzzle with a festive theme.)

I’ll be back at 5pm UK time with the solutions.

NO SPOILERS PLEASE Instead post your favourite facts about Luxembourg.

UPDATE: Read the solution here.


If you are a Christmas elf reading this column, or maybe acting on behalf of Mr Claus and his diminutive helpers, can I recommend an excellent stocking filler? The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book, my latest puzzle book.

The book contains more than 100 logic and code-breaking puzzles that reveal curious features about many languages, including two which are spoken by the inhabitants of the polar region: Sami, and Inuktitut.

Dara O’Briain described it as: “The only puzzle book I’ve seen that manages to befuddle both sides of the brain at the same time.” To find out more about the book here’s some info on my personal website, or you can throw caution to the wind and buy it on the Guardian Bookshop. (Or anywhere else, for that matter.) Merry Christmas, everyone!

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