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Bob wakes up one morning, and he needs to grab a pair of socks for work. In his sock drawer, he has 5 pairs of blue socks, 3 pairs of red socks, and 4 pairs of white socks (Bob is American and very patriotic). If Bob is logical, capable, and an observant person, what is the minimum amount of socks he needs to grab before being sure he has a pair of white socks for work?

The answer will (hopefully) not be the first thing that comes to mind. Also, this is a riddle, so inventive solutions are common and entertaining. If nobody has submitted the answer I was expecting in the next couple days, I will accept the answer I think is most creative.

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  • $\begingroup$ I guess you can remove those disclaimers, would make it a little more challenging without them being in place $\endgroup$
    – skv
    Oct 25, 2014 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ Uhh, downvotes with no comments? Thanks guys. $\endgroup$
    – mdc32
    Oct 27, 2014 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ I had assumed the "it was dark" premise and was going to suggest making it explicit... But now I think I understand the downvotes. It seems like many Puzzling users dislike puzzles that rely on tricky wording. "This wording isn't tricky!" you might say; but if there's no trick in the wording, then this really isn't a puzzle! $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2014 at 20:13

3 Answers 3

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Two. Since it doesn't seem to be dark in the room, Bob can pick out two of the white socks.

(I never know whether I'm being clever or incredibly pedantic with these things).

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    $\begingroup$ Well, crap. I was expecting that to take at least a little bit longer. Great job, btw. I will accept when I can. $\endgroup$
    – mdc32
    Oct 24, 2014 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ :) I know the feeling. FWIW, I did start down the probability theory path before I noticed. $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Oct 24, 2014 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ I like thought this immediantly, but I was late on the scene. $\endgroup$
    – warspyking
    Oct 25, 2014 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ I'd go a step farther and say he only needs to grab 1 sock. Because this "logical, capable, and observant" person would lock his socks together in pairs before putting them in the drawer. He grabs one white sock and pulls out the pair. $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2014 at 22:08
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I'm going to stray from the normal and say:

4. He'll need to remove the two off of his feet of unknown color and then the two white ones from the dresser.

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Bob have to draw 9 pairs to be guaranteed that he draws one pair of white socks.

Not very creative tough ...

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    $\begingroup$ You did not explain why its 9 or why you feel its 9 $\endgroup$
    – skv
    Oct 25, 2014 at 5:07
  • $\begingroup$ The general assumption in these sock puzzles is that the socks are separate and not bundled into pairs. $\endgroup$
    – Moyli
    Oct 25, 2014 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ @skv It is pretty obvious why he thinks it is 9 - you might be unlucky and draw the red and blue socks first, meaning that until you draw 9 socks you aren't guaranteed two white ones. $\endgroup$
    – Trenin
    Oct 31, 2014 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ :) I think its important that the answer contains these assumptions, that is the only reason I pointed it out $\endgroup$
    – skv
    Oct 31, 2014 at 16:56

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