IFComp 2020: Sheep Crossing

OK so you have to bring a cabbage, a sheep, and for some reason a bear to your grandmother, who lives on the other side of a river, and there’s boat but you can only bring yes it’s that one. The only complication here beyond the classic brain-teaser is that the sheep isn’t completely compliant.

To an old-timer like me, this game immediately brings to mind Fox, Fowl, and Feed from the 2007 Comp (the very first Comp to be covered in this blog!), which does exactly the same thing in considerably more depth. I’m assuming that the author wasn’t aware that the idea had been done before — which is fair, it’s not a reasonable thing to expect people to know! I’ll say this much for the comparison: Sheep Crossing is more reasonably completable. The solution to FF&F involved ripping a hole in the grain sack so you could get some grain to feed the goose, which violated the explicit instructions that all three things be delivered intact. Sheep Crossing does no such thing. On the other hand, it also has only one puzzle, other than the classic one, which hardly counts as a puzzle any more.

Here’s a suggestion for any future authors of river-crossing-puzzle-based IF: Why not use a different river-crossing puzzle? Adapt the Missionaries and Cannibals problem or the Flashlight puzzle or something. Heck, come up with your own original variant. I guess this would change the nature of the game, make it less of a commentary on a ubiquitously-known folk puzzle. So ignore this suggestion if you want. Just be aware that there are other similar puzzles out there that haven’t been given the IF treatment yet.

1 Comment so far

  1. matt w on 30 Oct 2020

    The missionaries and cannibals problem and the jealous husbands problem are both very problematic!

    Did I ever mention my idea for a similarish puzzle involving getting guests to leave an academic party? There is a group of graduate students, a group of assistant professors, and a group of full professors. They all start in the dining room, and if they all are in the hall at once they will all leave. Each group moves as one, and you can get a group to move from one room to another (or the living room) by reminding them of something interesting in the room–food in the dining room, a chess game in the living room, a cat in the hall. But graduate students will not enter or leave a room with any professors, and assistant professors will not enter or leave a room with the full professors.

    The secret: vg’f gur shpxvat gbjref bs unabv.

Leave a reply