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Puzzle Contest: Rigging the Bathroom

Posted in Puzzle

In the illustration above there is a hotel bathroom. The doors on either side open into adjacent rooms, which share the bathroom. In similar situations, hotels (and private residences) have put locks on the doors, so that someone in the bathroom could be assured of privacy, and all they have to do is to unlock the other door before they return to their own room.

Unfortunately, people often forget to unlock the other door. Pounding and shouting ensue. But in this hotel, the management came up with a solution, involving two short pieces of rope, that solved the problem perfectly. What did they do?


If you think you know the answer, send it to . Get your entry in by noon, Pacific Time, April 16th. We will randomly draw a winner from the pool of correct entries, and that person gets a very special prize: a copy of the monumental book The Sailmaker’s Apprentice, autographed by the author, Emiliano Marino. To learn more about Emiliano, visit The Artful Sailor.

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  1. Victor Raymond
    Victor Raymond

    There is a latch at each door. I am not sure what they call them but they are like guillotine if you will. The cord goes from the top of one latch to up the wall across the ceiling and down the opposite wall to the top of the other latch. When one latch is moved up the other latch falls down to a locked position.

    April 11, 2018
  2. I can think of several ways depending on latches, turning blocks and which way the doors open. Not sure about simply two short lines; but, my favorite way would be to rig lines from the pull chain on the loo such that the act of flushing would simultaneously unlock both doors.

    April 12, 2018
  3. Todd Morgan
    Todd Morgan

    Tie the two ropes by one end making it one piece. Place slip knots on the opposite ends of the rope. One slip over one door knob and the other slip knot over the other door knob. Adjust to remove extra slack. You have secured both doors by using opposing forces. Also you ensure both doors remain unlocked when vacated because at least one slip knot must be loosened and removed from one knot allowing the person inside to exit thus also allowing access from both doors as needed.

    April 15, 2018
  4. Steve Miller
    Steve Miller

    Tie a piece of rope to each doorknob, on the bathroom side of the door. While using the bathroom, tie the ropes together, assuring privacy by preventing either door from being opened. When done using the bathroom, ou have to untie the ropes to open your own door, this “unlocking” the other.

    April 15, 2018

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