In solving this little puzzle we are concerned with the exact interpretation of the words used by the buyer and seller. I will give the question again, this time adding a few words to make the matter more clear. The added words are printed in italics.

"A man went into a shop to buy chestnuts. He said he wanted a pennyworth, and was given five chestnuts. 'It is not enough; I ought to have a sixth of a chestnut more,' he remarked. 'But if I give you one chestnut more,' the shopman replied, 'you will have five-sixths too many.' Now, strange to say, they were both right. How many chestnuts should the buyer receive for half a crown?"

The answer is that the price was 155 chestnuts for half a crown. Divide this number by 30, and we find that the buyer was entitled to 51/6 chestnuts in exchange for his penny. He was, therefore, right when he said, after receiving five only, that he still wanted a sixth. And the salesman was also correct in saying that if he gave one chestnut more (that is, six chestnuts in all) he would be giving five-sixths of a chestnut in excess.


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