Accio!

Yesterday afternoon my friend A treated a bunch of kids to a Harry Potter treasure hunt. He loosely based it on some of my puzzle hunts of yore.

I contributed the following logic problem to the endeavor:

Wands are used by wizards and witches to channel their power. Each is composed of a wooden casing and a magical core, the combination of which makes it distinct from all others.

Four members of the house of Slytherin have wands of different lengths, different woods, and different cores. From the clues below, can you determine who owns which wand?

  1. Draco Malfoy’s wand is longer than both the wand that contains the dragon heartstring and the wand that contains the veela hair, but shorter than the cherry wand.
  2. Salazar Slytherin’s wand is shorter than both the cherry wand and the elder wand, but longer than the wand that contains the dragon heartstring.
  3. Lucius Malfoy’s wand is longer than both the walnut wand and the wand that contains the unicorn hair.
  4. Bellatrix Lestrange’s wand is shorter than both the wand that contains the phoenix feather and the yew wand.

S O L U T I O N

Slytherin Wood Core
Bellatrix                      
Draco
Lucius
Salazar

The puzzle can be solved with only the information above. However, since this was aimed at youngsters, I provided two additional clues. Feel free to use them if you get stumped, or want to verify that your answer is correct:

  1. Both the longest wand and the shortest wand are made from the wood of trees that produce food.
  2. Neither the longest wand nor the shortest wand contain a hair.

I was pleased with how it turned out. Having exactly one clue per Slytherin struck me as elegant, it has a bit of a twist, and the challenge was about perfect for the target audience of fourth graders. The challenge of solving the puzzle, I mean. The challenge of writing about “wands” and “length” without making the target audience of fourth graders snicker uncontrollably was one I didn’t even bother to tackle.

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12 comments.

  1. If you want to post solutions or hints to this thread, please use the spoiler tag [spoiler]like so[/spoiler].

    For instance, here is the “twist” I alluded to in the post (the revelation of which doubles as a solving hint): the puzzle is presented as if wand length is incidental to the solution, when in fact it is key.

  2. This was the most productive thing I have done all day. I think it is time for me to pack it in and head home

  3. I got it! And without using the supplementary hints too; that must mean I’m smarter than a fourth grader! (though just barely, I can say from personal experience).

  4. Geez, you make puzzle hunts but didn’t jump at my offer to check out the National Puzzlers’ League convention when we were in Seattle? You are a ninny.

  5. Ahhh! LSAT flashbacks.

  6. Any chance we could see the rest of the treasure hunt prompts? Love HP and hunts – such a great idea!

  7. Very nice puzzle. If you twig to the twist (or something equivalent) it’s a fast solve, but if you don’t, it’s hairy.

  8. Bellatrix has the Walnut wand, with a Dragon Heartstring.
    Draco has the Elder wand, with a Unicorn Hair in its core.
    Lucius has the Cherry wand, with a Phœnix Feather.
    Salazar has Yew wand, with a Veela Hair.

  9. I actually drew out that old logic puzzle grid from sixth grade so I could solve this. Took me a little while, and when I finished I realized I’d already solved it in scribbled notes off to the side. Logic 1, Paying Attention 0.

  10. What in the world is a logic puzzle grid? I admit I created a grid with names, length, wood, and core and then used the sidelines to name all the options which I crossed off as used. Then used what was left to make the answers. Is that the same thing? Regardless, I solved the puzzle! I am ready for 4th grade.

  11. the most productive thing I have done all day.

  12. So that’s the twist! I though it must be that the owner of the elder wand is the only one who won the elder wand in book 7. (hint/HP7 spoiler)

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