Pirate Pete and the Firing Squad on

Published in Brain Teasers

Pirate Pete had been captured by a Spanish general and sentenced to death by firing squad. The fifty-man squad were infamous for their terrible aim, and often failed to kill their victim immediately. The general's habit was to leave the prisoner to die -- slowly and painfully -- when this happened. Knowing this, Pete finally begged for mercy.

"Very well," said the general, "I have some compassion. You may choose where the men stand when they shoot you, and I'll add fifty more men to ensure that at least one of them hits you. Oh, and just so you don't get any funny ideas, they must all be within twenty feet of you, they must all be facing you, and you must remain tied to the post in the middle of they yard. And to show I'm not totally heartless ... if you're not dead by sundown, I'll release you so you can die peacefully outside the compound. I'll come back tomorrow to check on you -- although I doubt there will be much left to check on." After giving his instructions, the general left.

Upon his return the next day, he found that Pete had been set free alive and well -- and without a scratch on him. "How could this be?" demanded the general. Nervously, the captain of the squad replied, "It was where Pete had us stand."

Where did Pete tell them to stand?


Pete told the squad to form a circle around him. Facing each other and being such notoriously bad shots, the squad members were more likely to hit each other than Pete. By sundown, not a single shot had been fired.

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