Brain-Teaser 560: Ribbon counter

From The Sunday Times, 26th March 1972 [link]

“Puzzle here”, says Bell at the pub. “Chap has a ribbon shop, sells the stuff by the inch, no commercial sense. He’s barmy anyway; look how he measures it. His counter is exactly 100 inches long and he’s marked it off into 16 bits; 6 of 11 inches, 2 of 6 inches, 3 of 5 inches, 1 of 3 inches and 4 of 1 inch, and he can measure any number of inches up to a hundred, that is, by picking the right pair of marks.

“You have to sort the spaces out; but I’ll tell you, all the 11 inches are together round about the middle — well, a bit to the right, but not as much as 4 inches off centre. You get the idea? For most measurements he’s using a kind of feet and inches with eleven inches to the foot”.

“Young Green is nearly right: he can’t measure 99 inches unless there’s a 1-inch space at one end, but he doesn’t need a 1-inch at the other end for 98 inches; he does it with two 1-inch spaces at the same end; but there might be a 1-inch at the other end, all the same, and there might not”.

“In answer to two foolish questions, the ribbon must be measured single thickness, no folding; and it’s a straight counter, it’s not circular”.

“Usual prize, one pint”.

How were the spaces arranged from left to right?

This puzzle was included in the book Sunday Times Brain Teasers (1974, edited by Ronald Postill).

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