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And there you are, the famous Round Table, seeing it in all its glory makes you smile, even though you thought it was a lot bigger. Well, no matter, as soon as you arrive, you find a parchment on the wall, describing where everyone sat, though the instructions are a bit cryptic...

(The Round Table has six chairs, each chair is neighbor to two other chairs. For the sake of this riddle, consider the table a hexagon, and the chairs its vertices.)

  • The northmost chair is Arthur's, as it has always been, and will always be.
  • Merlin is closer to Lancelot than to Gawain
  • Gawain sits next to two other knights
  • Arthur can see his three most loyal knights without turning his head
  • Guinevere is closer to Lancelot than to Arthur
  • Percival is directly across from Merlin
  • Gawain is at Guinevere's right and Lancelot's left

And here are the members of the Round Table:

  • Arthur, King of Camelot
  • Guinevere, Queen of Camelot
  • Merlin, Camelot's trusted magician
  • Lancelot, Gawain and Percival are all three Arthur's knights

Now, can you figure out where everyone is?

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  • $\begingroup$ can we assume they are all facing the same direction (say towards the centre)? $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    May 4 at 9:02
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    $\begingroup$ Every chair is facing the center yes $\endgroup$
    – Auribouros
    May 4 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ Is there a language component to this question? rot13(Pbhyq lbh ercynpr "vf" jvgu "fvgf" va nyy ohg gur svefg uvag?) $\endgroup$
    – xyldke
    May 4 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ @xyldke Lbh pnaabg, abg sbe nyy bs gurz gung vf $\endgroup$
    – Auribouros
    May 4 at 11:26

3 Answers 3

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Here's what we can deduce:

1. Gawain sits next to two other knights (Lancelot and Percival) and is at Lancelot's left, so Gawain has Lancelot to his right and Percival to his left. (Somewhere in the counter-clockwise arrangement there is a consecutive string of Percival, Gawain, Lancelot)

2. That means, Merlin is on Lancelot's left, because Merlin sits opposite Percival, which means there are 2 people (Gawain and Lancelot) between Merlin and Percival. (Somewhere in the counter-clockwise arrangement there is a consecutive string of Percival, Gawain, Lancelot, Merlin). This also fulfills Merlin being closer to Lancelot than to Gawain. You'll note that that makes it impossible to fulfill the requirement that Guinevere sits closer to Lancelot than to Arthur, we'll get to that.

3. Arthur can see his knights without turning his head, so he sits opposite of the middle knight, which places him two seats from Gawain and thus to Merlin's right. (There is a consecutive string of Percival, Gawain, Lancelot, Merlin, Arthur). That leaves Guinevere to sit to Arthur's right. So in the end we have the following arrangement.

This is my solution

Starting in the north and moving in a counter-clockwise direction the seating arrangement would be: Arthur, Guinevere, Percival, Gawain, Lancelot and Merlin.

However, since "Guinevere is closer to Lancelot than to Arthur", there is something sneaky happening. In fact, it is well known that Guinevere and Lancelot were involved in a love affair that eventually tore the court of Camelot apart.

Guinevere is in fact under the table in front of Lancelot. Since she is facing Lancelot, Gawain is indeed at her right and at Lancelot's left simultaneously.
I think details are best left to the reader to whom I'll also leave the decision whether such an act of betrayal would remove Lancelot from the group of Arthur's most loyal knights.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It makes sense because it has tag "lateral thinking" which definitely means something's out of box. $\endgroup$
    – I'm Nobody
    May 4 at 10:20
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    $\begingroup$ Well technically, I did use all statements. I just chose a creative interpretation for one of them ;) $\endgroup$
    – xyldke
    May 4 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ Alright, I'll give you another small hint: Gur Ebhaq Gnoyr vf uvtu rabhtu sbe fbzrbar gb svg haqre. But given your answer, if you still can't find the "intended" answer, you still would deserve the checkmark $\endgroup$
    – Auribouros
    May 4 at 12:02
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    $\begingroup$ That last instruction is positively brilliant! Thanks for the hint. Without it, I don't think I would have ever considered fhpu hapbhegyl ebznapr. $\endgroup$
    – xyldke
    May 4 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ It's still true. Picture her under the table with Lancelot is straight ahead of her... so yeah, Gawain is to her right. $\endgroup$
    – dcsohl
    May 5 at 15:27
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The table seating is represented as a clockwise sequence of chairs, starting at the north seat:

Arthur can see his three most loyal knights without turning his head gives:
Arthur | ? | Knight | Knight | Knight | ?

Gawain sits next to two other knights puts Gawain in the center of the three knights:
Arthur | ? | Knight | Gawain | Knight | ?

Gawain is at Guinevere's right and Lancelot's left. gives:
Arthur | ? | Lancelot | Gawain | Percival | ?

Percival is directly across from Merlin fixes a relation between Percival and Merlin:
Arthur | Merlin | Lancelot | Gawain | Percival | ?

The puzzle is a little vague about whether everybody is sitting on chair. If we assume that terms like the "position of X" and "the position of X's chair" mean the same, and that formulations like "X is", "X sits" and "X's chair is" all resolve to the position of the people, then Guinevere needs to take the last free seat, giving
Arthur | Merlin | Lancelot | Gawain | Percival | Guinevere

At first glance, this seating plan seem to be contradicting
Guinevere is closer to Lancelot than to Arthur
But this contradiction is based on the implicit premise that the hexagon was equilateral. This assumption is not backed by the question text. A solution is to put a big distance between the chairs of Arthur and Guinevere and pack Guinevere, Percival, Gawain and Lancelot quite close. If one interprets "closer" to refer to the physical distance -- which is not a stretch at all -- and not to the distance in the permutation, there is no contradiction left.

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The chairs belong in clockwise order to:

Arthur | Merlin | Lancelot | Gawain | Percival | Guinevere

But:

everony is seated, except Arthur, who stands a bit behind his chair, so that he can see his knights but Guinevere is closer to Lancelot than to Arthur (e.g. his distance greater than the tables diameter).

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