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In a kingdom, the King did not allow any citizen to visit the world outside. Also only a person with a proper paperwork was allowed to enter or he was sent back. A wooden bridge was the only connection between the kingdom and the rest of the world.

The king had appointed a sharpshooter who would check the bridge every five minutes for escapees. After checking, he would go back to his hut and return exactly after five minutes again. You can't cross the bridge in less than 9 minutes, so the sharpshooter would be guaranteed to catch anyone trying to make a break for the other side.

A merchant who was a citizen of the kingdom was able to cross the bridge and escape the kingdom without harming the shooter.

How?

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    $\begingroup$ should "harming the shooter" be "alarming.." ? $\endgroup$ – MrSudds Apr 15 '15 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ @IanMacDonald But they're all lateral-thinking answers and there's no [lateral-thinking] tag. leoll2's answer seems more correct to me. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Apr 15 '15 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Ian I have to disagree. Your four answers seem more like loopholes than solutions. Bribing? C'mon. $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Apr 15 '15 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ @corsiKa, bribery (in one form or another) has been a means of escaping a situation since the dawn of time. I don't see how a solution that suggests the merchant (who obviously makes deals on a daily basis) makes a deal with the lookout in order to afford himself safe passage is considered to be abusing a loophole. $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Apr 15 '15 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ Under what conditions does the sharpshooter shoot? Why is the answer not "just walk across the bridge and don't worry about the sharpshooter seeing you"? I assumed when reading the question that the sharpshooter will always shoot if there is someone on the bridge. $\endgroup$ – Brilliand Apr 15 '15 at 19:36
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Here's my idea:

The merchant starts walking across the bridge at the point that the sharpshooter enters his hut. Four and a half minutes pass, and the merchant has reached the middle of the bridge, at which point he turns around. After thirty seconds, he is exactly five minutes towards the castle from the other end of the bridge, which is where he would be if he started walking from the other side when the sharpshooter left. The sharpshooter sees him walking towards the castle and does not shoot, instead turning to go back to his hut.

From here, the merchant has two options:

1) The merchant turns on heel and walks away, with exactly five minutes of bridge between him and freedom. This pushes the timing a bit, but if he moves quickly enough he will escape.

or

2) The merchant continues to the castle, pretending to not have correct documents. At this point he is sent back, during which he will not be shot by the sharpshooter because he is not attempting to escape.

Either way, the merchant escapes across the bridge to freedom.

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  • $\begingroup$ #2 is what I was going to answer $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Apr 15 '15 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ Let's say sharpshooter sees further than the bridge. In that case he would see before his 'first' visit to the hut, that no one is approaching the bridge. Then after 5 minutes he sees a person in the middle of the bridge, the only logical option is that it's a trick. $\endgroup$ – Zikato Apr 16 '15 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ #2 is the right answer, well done ;) $\endgroup$ – Pierre-Arthur Ferraro Apr 16 '15 at 7:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Pierre, why does the sharpshooter allow citizens to roam on the bridge unsupervised once detected? Does he care more about returning to the hut than he cares about following orders from the king? $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Apr 16 '15 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Ian MacDonald he doesn't, he stop every person on the bridge and ask paperwork depending if the person go to the castle or to the world, so if the mechant go to castle when he look at the bridge he will ask him the paperwork needed to enter the castle.(sorry for bad english) $\endgroup$ – Pierre-Arthur Ferraro Apr 16 '15 at 16:17
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When the shooter went away, the merchant started crossing the bridge. After 5 minutes, he has already passed the middle of the bridge.
When the shooter is back, the merchant turns back and slowly returns to the fortress, so slow that he doesn't cross again the middle of the bridge. When the sharpshooter goes away again, the merchant turns back and escapes as soon as possible! If, for some reason, the shooter decides to wait for the merchant to arrive, the business-man can just approach the gates, ask to enter, be rejected and go away without problems!

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ "Hmmm... with how slow he's walking there's no way he could have made it that far since I last checked. He must be trying to trick me!" - sharpshooter. Followed by "BANG". $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Apr 15 '15 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ "Hmmm...perhaps he's carrying a very heavy bag full of commodities!" $\endgroup$ – leoll2 Apr 15 '15 at 19:29
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The king does not allow any citizen to leave to visit the outside world. However, the merchant is a foreigner doing business in the kingdom. He simply showed the sharpshooter his own country's passport and walked across the bridge unchallenged.

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The merchant walks for 5 mins while the shooter is in the hut. Then turns around to pretend he is a visitor entering the kingdom without paperwork. The shooter turns him away, as he has no paperwork. The merchant therefore escapes unhurt.

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I'm assuming that the sharpshooter isn't going to leave the scene while something is happening on the bridge. I'm also assuming that the sharpshooter knows that the merchant is a citizen and can recognize him.

A foreigner with a large cart walks up to the bridge as the sharpshooter is leaving. The merchant and the foreigner meet in the middle of the bridge after 4 1/2 minutes; the merchant climbs into the cart and hides. The sharpshooter returns, asks for paperwork, and the foreigner has none; the foreigner turns around with their cart, is not shot, and leaves with the merchant.

Or, less interestingly:

The merchant hides himself in his wares, which go out like normal (however that works--he certainly isn't the one taking them).

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