21 MARCH 1931, Page 19


SIR,—The relationships shown to be possible by the winner of the Weekly Competition in your issue of March 7th are certainly very ingenious : 'but in No. 5 there appears to be an error, probably due to inaccurate transcription from an

earlier draft : -

" Q.: My brother's wife is my son-in-law's daughter. Can you explain this.? " (p. 378).

" A.: My daughter's husband was a widower having one daughter, who married my son" (p. 380).

It seems to me either that the question should read, " My son's wife . . ." or that the answer should read, ". , . -. who married -my brother:" Allow me, when writing, at any rate to mention a possibility of relationship not less curious than any in the list given by your successful competitor. It may be more intelligible if cast into the form of A -story.

Andrew Brown and John White, two widowers, became neighbours in the village of Craigdairnie. Each had a daughter, Mary Brown and Jessie White respectively. Though previously quite unrelated and, indeed, strangers to each other, the two families became so friendly that Andrew Brown married Jessie White. Being thus left with no one to keep his house, John White remedied the defect by marrying Mary Brown. Of each of these unions a son was born, viz.,

Robert Brown and Peter White. How were Robert and Peter related ? Careful study of the problem will show that each was the nephew (and therefore also the uncle) of the other : for Robert Brown being the (half) brother of Mary, her son Peter was his nephew ; and in like manner Peter White being the (half) brother of Jessie, her son Robert was his nephew.

Thus, absurd as it may seem, it is quite possible for a man to be . the uncle of his own uncle. The story solves your competitor's problem No. 10, ".My uncle and I are both uncles, and my uncle is my nephew," in a, quite different manner from that which he suggests, viz., " My mother's brother-in-law married my sister's daughter."—I am, Sir, &c.,


18 Wester Coates Gardens, Edinburgh.