Can you solve the wizard standoff riddle? – Dan Finkel


Can you solve the wizard standoff riddle? – Dan Finkel

You’ve been chosen as a champion
to represent your wizarding house in a deadly duel against
two rival magic schools. Your opponents are fearsome. From the Newt-niz school, a powerful sorcerer wields a wand
that can turn people into fish, but his spell only works 70% of the time. And from the Leib-ton school, an even more powerful enchantress wields
a wand that turns people to statues, and it works 90% of the time. Lots are drawn, and you’re chosen
to cast the first spell in the duel. The Newt-niz magician will go second, and the Leib-ton enchantress third, after which you’ll repeat casting in
that order until only one of you is left. The rules of magic duels are strict, and anyone who casts out of
order immediately forfeits the duel. Also, to prevent draws, the rules stipulate that
if everyone’s still standing at the end of the first round, you’ll all be turned into cats. Now, you must choose a wand. Your wizarding house presents you
with three options: the Bannekar, which binds
one target with vines and casts effectively 60% of the time, the Gaussian,
which turns one target into a tree and works 80% of the time, and the incredibly rare Noether 9000, which banishes one target
to a distant mountaintop and casts perfectly 100% of the time. Your opponents are masters of strategy,
as well as sorcery, and you know they’ll make the choices that
maximize their own chances of success. Which wand should you choose and what strategy should you employ to have the greatest chance
of winning the duel? Pause the video now if you want
to figure it out for yourself! Answer in: 3 Answer in: 2 Answer in: 1 You reach for the Noether 9000 first. After all, it makes sense to enter
the duel with the most powerful wand. But before you pick it up, you consider
what would happen. As the most dangerous wizard, you’d also be the target
of the other two magicians, and you’d need to take
care of the most dangerous of them first. But afterward, there’s a 70% chance you’d
be struck down by the remaining wizard. That’s trouble. Maybe it’s better to take the Gaussian. It works 80% of the time, which means you wouldn’t be a target
until the enchantress was incapacitated. But if you succeeded in transforming her, you’d probably be turned
into a fish immediately after. If you transformed the sorcerer, the enchantress would almost
certainly turn you to stone. It would really be better if you missed. And that’s when you have an idea: what if you took the Gaussian,
then missed on purpose? Then, you would wait for the sorcerer
to attack the enchantress, and you’d have an 80% chance
of winning against the sorcerer. It’s a good idea, but there’s a problem; the sorcerer could also pass his turn and the enchantress, knowing that
she couldn’t pass without becoming a cat, would cast her spell on one of you. And since you’re the most dangerous
between you and the sorcerer, you’d be the target. And that’s when you see
what you really need to do: take the weakest wand, the Bannekar,
and miss on purpose. Now the sorcerer knows that
he’ll be targeted by the enchantress and he’ll have to try to turn her into
a fish to avoid being turned into stone. Seventy percent of the time he’d succeed and you’d have a 60% chance
of winning the duel at the beginning of the next round. If he fails, chances are he’ll be
turned to stone and you’d still have a 60% chance of
winning the duel against the enchantress. There’s a slim 3% chance
you’ll all be turned into cats, but when everything’s accounted for, you have better than even odds
of winning with this strategy. And that’s the best you can do. Here’s what the probability of winning
for the different strategies looks like. Who would’ve thought
that the best way to take your shot would be to throw away your shot?

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100 thoughts on “Can you solve the wizard standoff riddle? – Dan Finkel”

  1. TED-Ed says:

    Sign up to be emailed the solution to the bonus riddle:! Also, the first 833 of you who sign up for a PREMIUM subscription will get 20% off the annual fee. Riddle on, riddlers!

  2. Fredeliza Aiza says:

    This is more easy than the other riddles you uploaded

  3. Yeslea Ash says:

    Hey Ted sauce! Ted Ed here!

  4. Zoyster Cracker says:

    Its the Triwizard tournament all over again

  5. Teresa McMurrin says:

    There are worse things than being turned into a cat…

  6. Rose C says:

    I am not throwing away my shot! Or am I?

  7. Cat Loving Trio says:

    Winning Schminning. What option is most likely to get me turned into a cat????

  8. Yani Official says:

    Green apples : 70 % survival

    Red apples : 50 % survival

    So take the green apples

  9. Maya Amylee Jialu Robinson says:


  10. Too Much Editing says:


    1.6% chance to win with Noether 9000 (100% success chance) when you pass the first turn?
    Someone please explain that to me.

  11. Omaree burton says:

    How do you calculate the chance of each outcome

  12. Deb Hines says:

    Red apple

  13. Underlord 26 says:

    I grab the banikar, then stab the others with it, who said the stick with throns on it was a wand?

  14. Alberto Louie says:

    Leibton and Newtniz…Newton and Lebiniz. Of course! You did it again, TED-Ed, you sneaks

  15. Itz Shana_Louise says:

    At 4:15 did u guys make a Hamilton reference????

  16. •[Trashist]• K. says:

    4:13 Loving that Hamilton reference there

  17. Crimson wolf says:

    Haven't read the comments but I believe after about a minute of thinking and looking over the wands I banish myself to the mountain

  18. legendhero 45 says:

    Thank you for the video! All of you friends are super awesome!

  19. Andrew Lemon says:

    So the tri wizard tournament?

  20. Ahmet Yunus Gırcın says:

    In the apple riddle, in both choices you have a 3/10 chance to die so it doesn't matter.

  21. -Txga- -Himikx- says:


  22. pHD StatiK says:

    This is the only riddle I’ve gotten right

  23. Multitasker Sanidhya says:

    Red apples

  24. Reelee Amashing says:


    I like Hamilton

  25. Popskiptea says:

    Sure…sure…or I could just take the most powerful wand and teleport myself far away from this duel to a remote corner of the planet!

  26. ZippyZapik says:

    Omg I WAS RIGHT FOR THE FIRST round but. I didnt know you can miss on purpose…

  27. pokepwned says:

    newt-niz and leib-ton, i see what you did there

  28. Nason Li says:

    your a wizard, Harry.

  29. lone wolf says:

    I think I have the answer to the bonus riddle.
    Eat from the green apple bowl. Here's my explanation:
    In the green apple bowl, there's a 60% chance of eating a safe apple. But, if you eat a safe apple, you still have a 50% chance of eating one poisonous apple. Then you have a 33% chance of eating the other bad apple and dying. There's also a 40% chance of you eating one poisonous apple first, and then there's a 25% chance of you dying, and a 75% chance of you eating one good apple, and after, a 33% chance of you dying.
    In the red apple bowl, you have 40% chance of eating one safe apple, which will keep you alive no matter what. But there's a 60% chance of eating a poisonous one. Then there is a 50% chance you will either die or live.
    Let's say your opponent eats a poisonous apple from the green, and you eat a poisonous one from the red. You have one 50% chance of surviving. Your opponent has a 75% to eat a good second apple, and then a 66% chance to eat another good apple. That's a 70% chance of survival. The green bowl is better.

  30. Poasa Vaai says:

    I would just yeet myself to the top of the mountain.

  31. 0skele says:

    That Hamilton reference 😂

  32. James david Paluay says:

    Red apple

  33. Spectrum 0 says:

    You could just hit your self with the one hundred wand because if you can miss you can hit your self so you take your self to a far off place and if they both miss your the only one left because they get turned into cats anyway

  34. Geometry Dash And More! :D says:

    Why did you not count the % of casting the spell

  35. prapann nagpal says:

    Really, Ted-Ed? Cross matching Newton and Leibniz? You thought you could pull that sneakie on us?

  36. CosmicQuaesitum says:

    Why would i need to learn that from a website? Its simple mathematics

  37. Eduardo Castro says:

    Why is this Harry Potter?

  38. skull jokes says:

    i would use the noether 9000 to 2nd wizard, and by the rule, the 3rd wizard cannot cast out of order while the 2nd wizard still alive or she forfeits the duel, hence i am the winner

  39. Spotted Hyena says:

    Who else just wants to become a cat?
    Like if you do

  40. Anonymous Hetalian says:

    Video: You've been chosen as a champion-
    Me: No.

  41. uniqueusername_1024 says:

    Seems kind of important that you can MISS ON PURPOSE.

  42. Jhalexuis Chandler says:

    For the apple one, cut all the apples in half and eat half of each apple. That way you won’t be able to eat 2 fully poisoned apples. At most you’ll eat 1.5 if you’re unlucky. That’s the best I got for that one anyways….

  43. gato_feliz says:

    What? Are you saying cats can’t magic? You dare challenge me mortal?

  44. Kim Kookie says:

    Ted-Ed: “And you know they’ll make the whatever for their own chance if success”

    Well OBVIOUSLY they’re not gonna purposely try to make themselves FAIL

  45. Bogs 1989 says:

    Rule: dont join any duels or any contest.. I'd only sleep and watch youtube.. Nyttt

  46. Astha Thakur says:

    Take the Noether, walk away from the duel till one of the others is taken out + you have your turn, then take the other one out. They didn’t say you couldn’t away, just like they didn’t say you could miss your shot.

  47. J.Y. K says:


  48. brandy31313 says:

    ḭ̃ w̰̃õ̰ñ̰'t̰̃ t̰̃õ̰ b̰̃ḛ̃ ã̰ c̰̃ã̰t̰̃ 🐾🐾

  49. Zichen Luo says:


  50. 21 Matei Zahariev says:

    For the apples it doesn't matter it's always 3/10 chance of death

  51. Dark Angel says:

    Raven claw huddle puff and griffin does are fighting :O

    I reader where the schools came from but it just reminded me of them

  52. ItsAngeloOrayt Soriano says:

    What if u cast The N9000 to urself then youll be safe?

  53. Ricki Gamer says:

    Harry Potter?

  54. Charles Mcguire says:

    I chose the right wond but for the wrong reason

  55. Agnes Zapanta says:

    Doesnt matter

  56. Evan Boni says:

    Duel definition: a contest with deadly weapons arranged between TWO PEOPLE in order to settle a point of honor.


  57. ToPhu says:

    Allow yourself to be turned into a statue, you would be the last man standing

  58. ARandom VideoMaker says:


  59. Poo Poo says:

    Well you never said they knew what wand you chose or the percentage of success so why not choose 100% then say you have 1% because we love not hinting at information or specifying anything

  60. Sudeep Singh says:

    They want to emphasize how thinking out of the box can help!
    However, why take the duel in the first place?
    Teleport yourself far away & enjoy a 100% survival!

  61. Sudeep Singh says:

    I don't fully agree with the miss on purpose solution, because if both 1 & 2 target 3, the odds of eliminating her are increased.

    If you conclude there's a 65% chance she'll be eliminated by her turn, you'll still have a 60% chance of eliminating 2nd Wiz & you're still getting the first shot at this.
    Missing on purpose just pits them against each other for survival.
    Meanwhile there's an increased chance you'll all miss & lose!

    Also, How can u miss on purpose with a spell not 100% effective?
    You don't cast it at target?
    Shouldn't it mean disqualification?
    If you can cast it somewhere else, why not use the vines spell on yourself (you're not a statue or fish or cat that way & they can be cut + you're still there.
    The mountains is bad but still not a cat or fish or statue!

  62. sheldon pereira says:

    Meh id take the last wand and self cast

  63. admirableUserName says:

    Stall for your turn, so nobody wins.

  64. Heynah Mata says:

    hamilton reference. my only weakness

  65. LazzyBurrito says:

    The way to win is you cast out of turn, fourfeiting the duel so you can stay alive

  66. Denzel Porlaje says:

    Loved the Hamilton reference

  67. Keksbombe005 says:

    Got the correct answer 😀
    I thought I could just do nothing during the first round.
    And I was wondering if the other wizards would know about my wand.
    But since I know their chances it only makes sense if they would know too.

    But thanks for this awesome riddle 😉

  68. Kyoro Shi says:

    Banish your self to the mountain so that you wouldn't be targeted by any of them?

  69. Blake_playzgacha and more says:

    Answer grab two wands and kill em both

  70. Vantor Vantor says:

    simlipe the rules ay nothing about defencive spells and the like so take the defence one against the lady and bring a enchanted gun then shoot the guy

  71. Mark Barlao says:

    Application of Probability and Odds .

  72. zaiplayz 1234 says:

    1v1v1 hero mains be like:

  73. Raymond Lontoc says:

    What if when I casted on the enchantress and failed?

  74. DeadMonkey says:

    The green bowl is better, because every time you choose the green bowl you got a 10% chance that you will die. But the red bowl has 30% chance you will die. So green in the way to go.

  75. Sofia's Glitter Time TV says:

    Sorry but I haven’t gotten my hogwarts letter

  76. Nadia Jahani says:

    the only genius thing about this is that hamilton reference at the end.

  77. LK007 says:

    green one basket has only 52.3% chance only where as red with 70%

  78. Mahbob Ahmed says:

    Take the 100% chance wand. Cast it on yourself. You’ll still be alive, just on a mountain

  79. Abxl_Smxth 18 says:

    This is one of my fav YouTube channels!! Btw I Have an AMAZING riddle if you wanna hear it.

  80. Balázs K says:

    Nonsense. Why would I count as a MORE dangerous opponent once my turn has ended? I can't shoot anymore. It's a 50:50 chance I get targeted at the end round whichever wand I choose. Nonsense.

  81. matrixphijr says:

    Better solution: Open the hidden compartment in the briefcase and take out the Wand of Chaining, which gives you a 5% chance of successfully casting a spell, and then has a 1% chance to arc chain that spell onto an additional target. Since you don't have to actually target both enemies, the wand is legal. You then intentionally miss with the wand. Since you have a 5% chance of succeeding, you therefore have a 95% chance of failing your spell and actually hitting a target. It will then chain at a 99% chance, giving you an overall 94% chance of eliminating both targets on the first turn. Conglaturation! You win!

  82. Chadd Joutsen says:

    I said the baniker and attack stone lady before I knew you could pass, then I said get the baniker and pass when they finally told me the rules. Im counting this as a solve.

  83. Erin Sherman says:

    Being turned into a cat doesn’t sound all that bad… you get free food and you can sleep all day

  84. Insert_Name :P says:

    Cheat and don't forfeit

  85. Segway_dinos Plays says:

    Chose all the wands and duct tape them together

  86. AmazedKevin618 says:

    How can you possibly have a 1.6% chance to win with using the Noether 9000 and miss on purpose?
    You will be targeted by everyone and not be alive, or be turned into a cat if the others also miss on purpose.

  87. Donald Shehane (student) says:

    I would’ve chosen the Banekkar anyway cuz it’s cool

  88. Joshua Rey Aguinaldo says:

    Bad Riddle…

  89. Krizteffe Marie Nieves says:

    4:17 is a hamilton reference

  90. Perfect_Poop says:

    Harry Potter: Misses Voldemort

    Voldemort: “Hehe, I’m in danger”

  91. Sudowoodo The Great One says:

    Since hydro pump always misses I’m going for the 90 then the 70

  92. Fra ottini says:

    That wasn't well explained. I didn't understand that it was possible to attack the enchantress first

  93. Nicolas Laine says:

    This is like playing a board game and jumping off the board 😂. Yes, the rules don't say anything about that but games just don't work like that

  94. James Molloy says:

    I would take the red apples 🍎 because the chance of getting two of them that are poisonous are very small so that’s what I would do

  95. Imperious Hearth says:

    I had a simmilar idea I though to use this first wand on my self it probably dont work and still if it would work I can cancell that spell because I cast the spell so this 2nd guy is going to cast spell on the 3rd guy if it doesnt work he will be turned into statue and it will be my turn I free my self and cast spell on the 3rd guy if it worked great if it dont well I think I will be great statue if the 2nd guy turned 3rd guy to fish the same you escape end cast again spell I think it would better worked with 2nd wand

  96. ALIYA AHMAD says:


  97. Leah Albano says:

    Harry Potter?

  98. ßėxxý :þ says:

    I would love to see RM try to solve this. Even though it'll take him 3 seconds.

  99. stop hating and spread love says:

    I want to be a cat

  100. Leopold Hetzner says:

    Oh wow a dual with 3 people -_-

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