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Three women go out to sushi dinner together, and each of them brings their only daughter. The first course that arrives is a specialty sushi roll which is placed in the center of the table, and contains one piece for each person. Before they begin eating, the eldest at the table leads them in a prayer. Everyone closes their eyes and bows their head, and each of the women holds the hand of their daughter throughout the prayer. When the prayer is finished, everyone opens their eyes, and notices that one piece of sushi is missing. The youngest at the table, legitimately surprised, shouts, "Hey, someone took a piece!" After a few seconds she continues, "Oh, I know who took it."

What is the maximum number of people at the table that could know who took the sushi?

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Can one woman be the daughter of another or are there six women in all? $\endgroup$ – GoodDeeds Jul 29 '16 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ Would the person speaking the prayer be a known innocent due to the difficulty of mouth stuffing while talking? $\endgroup$ – Going hamateur Jul 29 '16 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ The maximum number of people is six, if the culprit was particularly obvious. $\endgroup$ – f'' Jul 29 '16 at 19:13
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So start with the fact that the person who took the missing piece

had one hand free during the prayer, and is not the youngest (who was genuinely surprised).

Since the youngest could quickly deduce the culprit, that means that everyone else must have

been holding two hands during the prayer, and thus couldn't take the sushi.

And each person holding

two hands must be a mother AND a daughter, because one hand was holding her mother's hand and the other was holding her daughter's hand.

The maximum number of people that can apply to and fit the story parameters is

4, arranged like

Free hand→Great grandma→grandma→mother→youngest→free hand.
The three mothers are the first three listed, and their only daughters are the last three.

So there were

4 total people, and the oldest was the sushi thief. (Which she probably thought she'd get away with, because unless this takes place in Japan sushi is definitely more of a younger-generation thing.)

Or...

a more lateral-thinking answer could be 5, because the question doesn't explicitly state that no one else is with them, so perhaps one man came along and he's the culprit, and the youngest ruled out the great-grandmother because she was giving the prayer when the sushi was taken/eaten.

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  • $\begingroup$ But that would mean that the great grandma took the sushi which seems unlikely because she was talking the whole time. However she could have put the sushi in her purse because didn't say the sushi was eaten. $\endgroup$ – Maxqueue Jul 29 '16 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Maxqueue That's true. It's hard to tell from the wording if the sushi is required to be eaten or just taken. I assumed the latter. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Jul 29 '16 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ Russel Yes i agree assuming the latter i think your solution works. $\endgroup$ – Maxqueue Jul 29 '16 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Maxqueue: Correct. Eating the piece was not a requirement. I suppose she could have added a moment of silence to the prayer if she was extremely hungry. $\endgroup$ – TTT Jul 29 '16 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ But wait! There are more solutions if you allow for same-sex relationships. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Jul 29 '16 at 19:34
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I thought there was 6 people. 3 women with 1 daughter each. Each person had their eyes closed and each person had one free hand, so my answer is:

Zero and I think the waiter took it.

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  • $\begingroup$ The goal is to get the maximum number, so even with 6 people, having someone at the table taking it would still be better because then you have 1 person knowing. $\endgroup$ – TTT Jul 29 '16 at 20:01

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