A party is being held at a local mansion, starting at 7pm. The host is very rich and his success is because of one thing — his famous recipe for spaghetti!

The only guests that may attend are people who correctly reply to the guard at the door.

You have a friend called Narmer, a former acquaintance of the host, who has talked you into trying to get into the mansion in order to steal the spaghetti recipe. The pair of you hide by the entrance to the mansion at 6pm and wait for the other guests to arrive.

The first guest arrives at 7pm. The guard says "4". The guest says "6". A gunman pops up from behind the wall and shoots the guest.

The second guest arrives at 7:15pm. The guard says "15". The guest says "8" and is admitted.

The third guest arrives. The guard says "14". The guest says "11" and is admitted.

The fourth guest arrives. The guard says "12". The guest says "6" and is admitted.

The fifth guest arrives. The guard says "21". The guest says "7" and is admitted.

"Can it really be that simple?" your friend murmurs to himself.

The sixth guest arrives. The guard says "9". The guest says "5". The gunman pops up again and shoots her too.

The seventh and eighth guests arrive together. They are talking to each other but you cannot understand what they are saying. The guard says "7" to one and "3" to the other. They answer "5" and "3" respectively; both are admitted.

"It is!" your friend exclaims. He breaks cover and saunters up to the entrance. The guard eyes him suspiciously and says "1". Your friend says "3" and is admitted.

The guard is now peering at your hiding place; he must have seen where your friend came from. You cannot stay here much longer. When the guard looks away for a moment, you emerge and walk up to him. He says "22".

First question: what number do you tell the guard?

Bonus question/hint 1: how does the guard decide what numbers to use as challenges? (There is a pattern to it!)

Hint 2:

Where do Narmer and the host know each other from?

Edit after Michal's answer: none of the guests has a calculator with them; they all give their replies after only a few seconds' thought, without recourse to any electronic aid.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Does the Guard's Number have to do with the current time? $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2014 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @No.7892142 - No, but there is a (slight) hint in what I've said about times. $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2014 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Tsk! MY spaghetti formula is much better, that's why I want to stole his! $\endgroup$
    – Narmer
    Nov 17, 2014 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Narmer - You're our inside agent now for all these spaghetti parties; you can tell us all about the host's weak points :-) $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2014 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


Without a moment's hesitation, I answer:



The host is a famous spaghetti chef, so of course he must be Italian. The guard gives the guests numbers and the correct answer for each is their letter count when translated to Italian. For 22, the translation is "ventidue" which has eight letters.

All the clues I've found towards this:
1. The whole spaghetti thing (which has been mentioned in 37 puzzles here but only used as a clue in this one).
2. Everybody's arriving late except for the poor Spanish guy at 7pm. ;)
3. "Can IT really be that simple?" (country code for Italy)
4. Guests 7 and 8 are discussing in a foreign language.

Added by OP:
5. Your friend Narmer is Italian.
6. Instead of being trampled by elephants like at the other spaghetti parties, guests who answer wrongly are shot by a mafioso!

My shot at the bonus question:

The guard chooses the numbers based on the host's name. He begins with a 4 - D is the fourth letter of the alphabet. Followed by O, N, L, U, I, G, C, A, V. The host's name must be Don Luigi Cavaliere or something similar. Our seventh clue.

  • $\begingroup$ Excellent! Can you find all the hints towards this in the question (and answer the bonus question)? $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2014 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor: I think so. See the updated answer. Nice riddle by the way! $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2014 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Clue 3 was unintentional, and clue 1 actually appears in all these 'Security to the Party' questions (that's what gave me the idea). There are two more clues, one related to Narmer and one to the lack of elephants. $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2014 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ Mind if I edit your answer to mention the last two clues? $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2014 at 15:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Mamma mia! Spaghetti e mandolino! Congratulazioni! E comunque arrivare in ritardo è segno di buona educazione (no, non è vero)! $\endgroup$
    – Narmer
    Nov 18, 2014 at 16:53

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